168 Hours: Why You Should be Writing Your Holiday Letter Today

Last week, I wrote about how you have more time than you think to do more meaningful activities than you are now, and I even gave you tips to start reclaiming just five out of every 168 hours so you could start living a life you love.

Today, I’m giving up my Monday spot in honour of Laura Vanderkem, the author of 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think. She graciously accepted to write a post just for you, dear readers, so be nice. Oh, and don’t worry; it’s a special exception – I’ll be back on Monday to regale you with my usual wit. Until then, enjoy.

If you’re like many of us, you send out an end-of-year letter with your Christmas holiday cards. This missive exists to inform friends and family of what your household has been up to, but unfortunately, this genre is known for its tedium. “John is still writing reports for various corporate clients, John Jr. is now in fourth grade and is playing soccer, and Sarah is in 2nd grade and starting piano lessons…”

That’s because most people’s lives are pretty tedious.

But imagine, for a minute, a letter that’s a little different: What do you dream of being able to recount in your annual letter?

Maybe you’ve finally started taking the community college classes you’ve been talking about for years. You started a blog or committed to a regular guest posting gig on someone else’s. Your wife decided that her job was holding her back, and found a new one that makes her excited for Mondays. You took that trip to the mountains as a family and went camping. You and your daughter are singing in a choir together. And, by the way, here are some great pictures you’ve taken now that you’ve rediscovered photography as a hobby.

Wouldn’t it be nice to write a letter like that?

So write it. Now. Imagine it’s December. Write down what you wish you could tell the world about how you and your family have spent the 168 hours we all have each week creating the lives you want. You don’t have to send this letter to anyone. But read it as often as you can.

Because once you know what you’d like to do with the rest of this year, you can break these goals down into actionable steps, and then get organized about putting them on the calendar. What can you do during the next 168 hours to move closer to making your letter come true?

You can research that community college open house and make time on your schedule to show up. You can ask around to see who has camping equipment you can borrow, and start watching air fares. You can use the 20 minutes the carpool is late bringing your kids home from school to take a series of photos of the late-summer trees, and bookmark a photography website to visit later.

When we think about what is important to us, we start thinking about ways to make these things happen. Time management isn’t just about saving a few minutes here and there; it’s about filling your life with things that deserve to be in it.

So write your end-of-year letter early. It’s a great way to figure out what you’d like to be doing with your time. Think of it as an early Christmas gift – to yourself.

About the Author: Laura Vanderkam is the author of 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think and Grindhopping: Build a Rewarding Career without Paying Your Dues. She’s also one of those people who actually does what she loves to do (most of the time). Take a page from her book and visit www.my168hours.com (just click the clock to read her blog) to learn more tips and tricks.

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