LifeGoesOn: The Pie Exercise

June 24, 2011






I feel like all I ever do it work. There is never time for me. I have a full time job, a husband, and 3 teenagers. My life feels like I’m just passing time with no real rest or enjoyment. What can I do?



Remember when your third-grade teacher had you draw a pie with slices for play-time, school, TV time, and family time? You had to fill in the areas of your life, according to how you spent your time. I want you to do that now.

Draw one big circle, and fill in the spaces with how you spend your day. This is called your Time Pie. For example, if half your time is spent at the office, that would fill half your pie.

Work, spouse/significant other, children, parents, friends, commute to work time, alone time, hobby, sports, TV. These are some examples of how you may spend your time.

Now, I want you to draw a pie that shows your interests, where your heart is. This is your True Self Pie. If your family is the most important part of your life, make it a big piece of your pie. If work is meaningless and un-enjoyable, make it a tiny slice. Or vice versa.

Now, look at your two pies. Do they match? Are they even close? Ideally, we are spending our time doing the things that are the most important to us. So, for example, if family is important, but work fills most of your Time Pie, you’re in trouble. The happiest people are spending their time doing the things they love to do. Use this tool to re-prioritize your life. Make changes where possible. Make a plan to harmonize your life.

One major method is to learn how to say NO without guilt. As the mother of teenagers, you might be quite the chauffeur. Coordinate with other parents, limit their activities, spend more quiet time together at home. KEEP (NOT MAKE) TIME FOR YOURSELF. After all, I doubt if you say, “I don’t have time to bathe this week.” Set aside time for you.

Excepted from The Psychotherapy Workbook


Kathleen Cairns, Psy.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in West Hartford, Connecticut. She works with adults, adolescents, and couples. You may call her at 860-236-5555 to make an appointment. She is the author of “The Psychotherapy Workbook.”  You may email her at and she will try to answer as many of your questions as possible.

Life goes on… and every day matters…



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One Response to LifeGoesOn: The Pie Exercise

  1. Johnny Turner on June 28, 2011 at 9:23 am

    Superb on this! What a great way to analyze your time.

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