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Thought2Action LLC ®
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Posts: 99

Do you ever feel that no matter how hard you work - at home or at your job - you just can't find time to do what you would really like to do?  Have other people's needs taken over your schedule?  Does it seem like there's not enough time in the day?  It's time to take a closer look at your schedule to find out how you're using your most precious resource - time.  Use these six steps to find the time you need:


1. Keep a log for one month


Track how you’re using your time in one-hour increments. If you’re a pen-and-paper person, use a spiral notebook, daily planner, or a note pad. If prefer electronics, use a spreadsheet on your computer, the task list or calendar on your PDA or smart phone.  Record all of your daily activities, and be as complete as possible. Be sure to include everything from sleeping and eating to dog walking and picking up the dry cleaning.


2. Make an appointment with yourself


Record your activities every day. Otherwise, you will forget the little things that, added together, use a lot of time. If you can’t make notes throughout the day, set aside 5-10 min each day to keep up your list. Help yourself feel like you’ve accomplished something by counting down the days until you complete your month-long log.  At the end of the month, make an appointment with yourself to spend a couple of hours on your time log. Read through everything that has kept you busy during the month. What surprises you? What pleases you? What disappoints you?


3. Create time categories


Now, put all of your activities in categories. Some examples:

• eating,

• sleeping,

• preparing meals,

• shopping (food vs clothing or other),

• running errands,

• visiting friends/relatives,

• participating in religious activities,

• participating in community activities,

• participating in exercise or sports activities,

• going to medical appointments,

• getting ready for work/school,

• traveling to and from work/school,

• watching TV,

• working/playing online,

• caring for pets/children/others, etc.


4. Look at how you’re spending your time


Now, use your log to estimate how much time you spent on each category. Review the activities that are taking a lot of your time, as well as those that take just a little. Ask yourself:

• Where would you like to spend more time?

• Where would you like to spend less time?

• What would you add to your schedule?

• What would you remove completely?


5. Create a schedule that works for you


Answer these questions honestly, and you will gain some valuable insights for your decision-making: Start with your "remove completely" activities and think of ways you can make those tasks disappear from your schedule. If they can't disappear, how can you minimize them?


Then look at your "less time" activities in the same way. How can you minimize the time you spend on them in your schedule? Remember that your goal is to make time for the things you really want to do.


What are your "more time" activities? Can you now make more time for them after cutting back on other tasks? Have you found some time for one or more activities you would like to "add"?

6. Try your new schedule for one month


Make adjustments to your schedule based on your thinking in Step #5. Find opportunities to combine trips or tasks, get help from others, and off-load activities that are not productive, enjoyable, or healthy. Treat yourself to one or two of those activities you would like to spend more time doing or add in to your schedule. At the end of your trial month, fine-tune your schedule so that you are able to keep more of what you enjoy and do less of what is unhealthy, counter-productive, or doesn't make you happy.


March 12, 2010 at 7:46 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Thought2Action LLC ®
Site Owner
Posts: 99

From a post in the General Hints & Tips section, 7/21/2009:

Ever feel like you're out of control at work, like so many people place so many demands on you that it's difficult even to get started each day?

You can have control, right from the time you arrive. The routines you establish to start each workday help determine the general outcome of your day. First, plan your personal activities as much as you can so that you arrive at work at least a few minutes before your expected start time. Arriving just a few minutes early can give you the breathing room you need to get your day started productively. Here's an example.

I returned to the office this morning after a week away, managing faculty and students in several education programs for which I'm responsible. I arrived at the office about 15 minutes early, plenty of time to make some tea, lay out the files and paperwork I brought back from travel, collect the paper mail from my in -box, and note how many voicemail messages were awaiting my attention. Before starting any lengthy to-do list task, I completed the following routines:

- listened to and addressed phone voicemail messages (making notes about each message on a telephone message pad and indicating action to take or action taken);

- opened and categorized paper mail (file, act [specifying what action to take by making a note on the envelope], discard);

- reviewed email that had accumulated since I last checked (flagging messages requiring action, filing messages for later reference, and discarding junk or irrelevant messages, similar to paper mail process);

- added tasks to my running to-do list (I keep a spiral notebook of monthly to-dos, marking each according to importance/urgency, and checking off each as it's completed; and

- checked my electronic calendar for today's commitments to meetings and phone calls.

By addressing these basic tasks at the start of my day, I felt more in control of the rest of my schedule for the day and the week. Time for another cup of tea!

March 12, 2010 at 6:07 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Thought2Action LLC ®
Site Owner
Posts: 99

From Jennifer, 7/21/2009:

I find that when I arrive home from work, if I resist the urge to sit down, even for "just a few minutes," I can get myself organized to start the next day in no time. First, if I can run a quick errand before I get home (to pick up dry cleaning, for example), I feel so accomplished! Second, as soon as I get home I pick up the mail and sort it before anything else, tossing the junk, keeping the items that need attention, and making a note on each about what next step I plan to take. The keepers go into a basket in the home office to deal with when I have more time. The dry cleaning goes directly into the closet where it belongs. What's tossed goes into a recycling pile for the trash pick-up

Next, I take my lunch bag (I pack - what a savings!) into the kitchen, where I refill the bag with food for the next day. I usually make a week's worth of lunches on weekends so refills are quick. After a long day at work, I don't feel like starting from scratch! If I happen to splurge and buy myself lunch one day, I have lunch already made for the following day. Another bonus.

Finally, when it's my turn to cook dinner (it's just the hubby and me - kids are grown and gone), I usually have something bubbling in the crock pot or thawing in the fridge, so prep time is minimal. And, don't forget a soothing beverage - I pour a drink during dinner prep or wait until it's time to serve.

Either way, when I finally do sit down, it's to spend a leisurely few minutes at dinner knowing I've already begun getting organized for the next day. Ahhhh!

March 12, 2010 at 6:09 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Thought2Action LLC ®
Site Owner
Posts: 99

Here's a tip for the end of the work day to help ease your stress. 

Whether you work at a location away from home or in your own home office, it's easy to end the work day feeling frazzled, irritable, and generally stressed. Those feelings make it difficult to relax during your after-work time, too.


By forming a few simple habits, you can relieve work stress and have a more peaceful evening at home:

1. Set aside time to wrap up your work day. This will help you make the transition from work time to personal time. You should need no more than about 15 minutes. To help make this a habit, mark the time on your calendar or in your appointment book, and treat it as you would any other commitment.


2. Sort and file papers. During the day, many documents, sticky notes, telephone messages, and other papers accumulate on and around your desk. Do an end-of-day sort using the File-Act-Toss method. You'll have a clearer idea of what you've accomplished and what remains to be done.


3. Straighten up your computer's desktop. Similar to your paper sort, review your email list and desktop documents, moving, tagging, and deleting items as appropriate.


4. Update an existing task list, or create one for the following day. Make notations by each task that include priority (for example, High-Medium-Low), deadlines, and other people who should contribute or participate in each task.


5. Straighten up your work space. There's no need to completely clear your desk or work space, but take a few minutes to set up the files, materials, and other items you'll need at your fingertips when you begin work the next day.


By making it a habit to attend to these simple end-of-day activities, you will find it easier to leave work knowing that you're ready for the next day, and you'll enjoy your personal time much more.

March 30, 2010 at 2:59 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Thought2Action LLC ®
Site Owner
Posts: 99

And here's a tip for each evening at home to reduce the morning rush:


The way you start your work day sets the tone for the whole day. If it starts in a rush, it's likely you'll feel rushed and stressed all day, and your day will feel endless. If it starts calm and relaxed, there's a good chance that you'll feel relatively calm the rest of the day, too.

By forming a few habits each evening before going to sleep, you can help assure a relaxed beginning for the next day (you'll probably sleep better, too!):

  1. If there are tasks you can complete in the evening, instead of waiting for the early morning rush, make time for them: packing lunches, reviewing or signing children's school papers or homework, choosing the next day's clothing, planning the next evening's dinner.
  2. If you spend a lot of time thinking about what you need to do the following day, make a list of those things, and keep the list by your bed in case other tasks occur to you. Knowing you have made a list of tasks means you don't have to try to remember them.
  3. If you have children, engage them in relaxing activities before they go to sleep. This will help you feel calm, too.
  4. Turn off the TV and computer at least 30 minutes (an hour is better) before trying to sleep to reduce the stimulation that keeps your brain active and delays sleep. Consider playing quiet music instead.
  5. Soak in the bathtub or take a hot shower to relax your muscles and your mind. When you leave the bath or shower, put on soft comfortable clothing to maintain your relaxed feeling.
  6. Do some stretching exercises or have your partner give you some massage - not vigorous exercise - to loosen the kinks and calm the muscles as you relax.
  7. Sip a calming beverage - decaf tea or coffee, warm milk, or glass of red wine - to quiet your mind and help you relax.
  8. Choose something relaxing to read before trying to sleep.

Any combination of these suggested activities can help you end your day calmly and begin the next day with minimum stress and a positive perspective. Promise yourself to try out your new habits for a minimum of two weeks and notice the difference!

April 4, 2010 at 1:54 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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