It’s been a buzzphrase in business and productivity for a while now, the idea of doing a time audit on your calendar and your schedule. The idea is that you observe yourself on an average day or week, and note what you’re working on in 15-minute increments. Once you’ve gathered all the information on these 15-minute chunks, you can then determine where you’re spending too much time, what is taking more time than you’ve budgeted, and where you might be able to make some adjustments.
Why not take the same idea and conduct a health audit on yourself, to get an accurate picture of what you’re doing to take care of yourself and where you could add some intentionality and focus? It’s a great time of year to conduct a health audit, as you consider what approach you want to take to your healthcare for the upcoming year.
So how can you perform your own health audit? Grab your phone or a notebook and follow these simple steps to give yourself an up-to-date picture of your personal wellness. And remember, if you’re an Altrua HealthShare Member on certain memberships, you have access to the Altrua HealthShare App, which has features for monitoring and recording several of these health habits and practices. (If you’re not yet an Altrua HealthShare Member, you can learn more about becoming part of this innovative, affordable approach to healthcare by clicking here.)
- Commit. Aim to make notes on your eating habits, physical movement, sleep, supplements, time outdoors, and emotional state for at least three days. And if you can make it five days or seven days, even better, as that can give you a more accurate picture overall.
- In your notes app on your phone or in a notebook, start your morning by writing down the amount of sleep you got the previous night. You can also add a note about the quality of sleep you experienced.
- In that same notes app, write down everything you eat during the course of the day and the amounts of each item. It’s easy to over-or-under estimate just how much you’re eating each day or to not realize when you’ve blown through a bag of chips. The idea is not to shame yourself about your food consumption, but rather to get an accurate picture of what you’re eating throughout the course of a day.
- Record what physical activity you engage in throughout the day. Did you go for a walk around the neighborhood? Did you do some heavy cleaning or organize the garage? Over the course of the days in which you’re taking notes, jot down any exercise and heavy physical movement you engage in. And be very clear about what you’re recording. A lot of us have probably had the experience of seeing people at the gym who are there for an hour, but spend most of that on their phones or wandering around and chatting. It’s not about how long you spend at the gym; it’s about what you’re doing while you’re there.
- Make a note of the time you spend outside each day. Healthy doses of sunlight are great for calibrating your internal clock, increasing alertness during the day, increasing bone density health, and for regulating blood pressure. Overexposure and the lack of use of sunscreen can increase your risk for skin cancer. Getting an accurate account of the amount of time you’re spending outside, whether too much or too little, is an important aspect of your overall health.
- Include a checkbox to record if you take your supplements.
- Also include checkboxes for every 8 ounces of water you consume during the day.
- Record your current weight.
- Make a quick note of your mental state each day. You can keep it short and sweet, something like, “a little stressed,” or “feeling a little down,” or “peaceful, productive day.”
At the conclusion of the time period you’ve committed to, take a look at the overall picture this audit is providing you with. Are you working out more than you thought? Or have you missed a few days? What about your eating habits? What does the veggie count look like? Are there more pastries on the record than you would have expected?
Also, take note of where you feel like you’re doing a good job with your health. Maybe you’re happy to learn that you’re doing a good job staying hydrated or that you’re being really consistent with your supplement routine.
Once you have an opportunity to look over the information you’ve gathered, take some time to determine where you’d like to make some improvements. And then commit, on the calendar, to making that happen. Maybe you’d like to do a better job with your water intake. Set reminders on your phone to drink up on the H2O. Perhaps you decide that you need to add some more veggies and fruit to your plate. Plan when you’re going to put those items in your lunch bag or dinner plate.
There’s nothing quite like going through the process of recording, real time, how you’re actually living your life and the habits you are engaged in. With a bit of intention, honesty, and consistency in recording these important areas of your health, you can develop a more accurate picture of where you’re at and where you’d like to be when it comes to your overall wellness.