Karl complained he did not have enough time.

Up at 6 and out the door by 7, he worked hard as an up and coming manager. People liked and he worked hard. Also, he had an active 3-year-old and a newborn at home.

He dragged himself home. He wanted to do what he wanted. He surfed Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Twice a week, he met with a group of friends for conversation over coffee.

He knew something was wrong. He and his wife exchanged icy stares rather than words many days. Kids cried. Nerves frayed.

After a couple of numbing hours of TV, Karl collapsed into bed for a fitful night.

He knew the answer to his problems. He needed more time. Yet, he kept adding to his plate which was already overflowing.

Who has not felt the cold finger of time pressure on my neck! Life presents challenges, deadlines, and demands.

The cry of 21st century Americans is the plaintive “I don’t have enough time.”

It’s easy to fool yourself into believing it. After all, we sense our pulse racing, our blood pressure pumping, and our to-do list lengthening.

If only we had more time.

Is it accurate?

Laura Vanderkam looked at this dilemma in her book 168 Hours. Her basic premise is our lack of time is self-deception.

When it comes to time, all men are created equal. While we may not have the same amount of money, with every 7 rotations of the globe, we all have 168 hours. Whether you are the president, a college student, or an unemployed job seeker, all have the same 168 hours.

(Please don’t say, “but I am different.”)

Vanderkam arms herself with significant and incontestable evidence. Through long-term time studies conducted with intricately kept time logs, we are not as busy as we believe. In fact, almost without exception, the most occupied American has time to burn (and we usually do).

What is her conclusion about our time? It’s not how many hours we have but how we choose to fill our hours. It is our choices, not our demands that create trouble.

Think about your choices. How much surfing of the internet happens to you? How much time on social networking (masquerading as “relaxation”)? How many does your family get while snatching peeks at your cell phone? How much video do you watch?

I have to confess those questions convict me at some level.

Franklin once said of time, “Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff that life is made of.”

Squandering time is never on petty things but only on less important things.

Are you ready to find out exactly how “time-stressed” you are? Here are four things to do to face the facts.

Measure. Keep a time log. Time logs are easy to keep. You can find dozens on the internet. Print one out, take 3 minutes every hour and put down what you are doing. (It is an eye-opening experience!). Do this for no less than 2 weeks.

Confront. Make a list of the categories and time spent on each. Don’t cheat. Don’t make excuses (but that is important). What you find is what you did. Grow up enough and take notice of what you actually do.

Decide. Your time log reveals what is important to you. We make time for what is important to us, not for what we say is important. Is your family important? How much time did they get from you? Did the internet claim an extraordinary part of your life? What about socializing? TV watching? Netflix? Youtube? Hobbies and personal passions? All are gremlins grabbing your attention by the lapels and demanding attention.

You will always give attention to what you want to give attention to.

Change. Make better choices. When higher priorities come, it is time to give up lesser activities, even those you love. Stop doing what you don’t need to do and then schedule new activities like it is an appointment to claim the winning lottery ticket.

Too many lives are wasted and too many families soured by the busyness trap. It’s never the time. It’s the person using it.

How are you choosing to use your 168 hours?