Time Management Made Easy Just for YOU

Managing your time is more than managing your work – it’s managing your life. The essential ingredients are realistic honesty and the ability to say no.

I have a friend who is chronically late-forever playing catch up. For me, she is an irritant because she refuses to change even when I have given her the tools to do so. She believes her life is so much more involved than the lives of those around her so everyone should understand. What a crock of hooey.

She always marvels at me because I am able to do everything I need to do and still find time to relax. She is forever getting home late, waking up late, getting to work late and accomplishing half of what she wants to on a regular basis. Why? Because she is unrealistic in not only how long a task actually takes but when to do each task.

Just because you want to learn 3 languages, become a master chef, learn the piano and become a pilot all while working, commuting and managing a family doesn’t mean it will happen. Dreams without action never become a memory.


I will digress for a moment let’s equate all the things in your life to gardening because it represents a process. The one thing needed to garden is: Patience an absolute must. You will never be a “real” gardener without it. I am not talking about buying a bunch of annuals, planting then watering them in the summer. I am talking about growing from seed, doing all the tasks to nurture and grow, then developing a truly wonderful garden. Gardening is a never-ending series of tasks-some daily, weekly, monthly or seasonally. You must weed, water, fertilize, prune, dead head, plan, clean, maintain tools and so on. All of these tasks are done at intervals during the growing season and some must also be done in the off-season in preparation for the upcoming season. If you don’t time many of these tasks as needed you will have a weed’s nest of dead plants.

Now I view everything I do as a JOB. From feeding the dog to watching TV to working everything I do requires time to do it and that is no different than a paid job. If you view everything as a job, then it will affect what jobs you want to or need to do and what jobs you don’t. Also this will help you to accomplish more at your day job.


Within the realm of the tasks you must do there are those you despise doing but are mandatory. My suggestion is to pick a time of day when you are at your peak and just do them without prior consideration. Once one task is done, move on to the next. If nothing else, this will alleviate the stress of thinking about doing them.

People who are chronically late or take twice as long tackling a task do less work than those who are consistently on time and get their tasks done. This really makes the doers and the on-task people angry. The chronically late are the people who constantly tell you how busy they are when you can see that the only thing they are busy with is talking about being busy and wasting time.

There are some simple steps to get you on the road to managing your time better. We will begin with a simple process to follow. The items needed are your cooperation (honesty), a tape recorder or recording device and a desk clock. And in our example we will be collecting data for our typical weekday tasks. First, list all the things you need to do daily that requires more than one minute to do. (Work is left out of this equation because you need to find out what you are doing in your daily routine to find more time. Obviously, you will need to still be at work for a set time each day that cannot be altered.)

Your list should be what you do every day, no exceptions. And next to each task put how long you think each task takes in minutes. Below is an example of what the list could comprise.

1. Walk the dog (10 minutes)
2. Feed my pets (5 minutes)
3. Shower (20 minutes)
4. Make up or Shave (10 minutes)
5. Hair (15 minutes)
6. Get Dressed (10 minutes)
7. Go to the bathroom (20 minutes)
8. Eat (break down by meal)
9. Cook (break down by meal)
10. Make personal calls (call kids, spouse, parents, friends)
11. Check personal emails, Facebook, Internet searches or general reading
12. Watch TV, listen to music, read a book
13. Commuting (realistic time from when you get in the car until you are at your desk or work area)
14. Smoking (the average time to smoke a cigarette is three minutes and does take away time to do something else).

I am not talking about those things you do once a week or three times a week. I am talking about those things that you do every day no matter what. Then divide these into when you do them. For example, some shower at night and others in the morning. You want to segregate when you do things. Once you determine what you do in the morning or at night separate your list accordingly.


Your next step is to determine, if you don’t already know, whether you are an early morning, late morning or afternoon person. Once you know who you are then do more things during the time you are at your best.

Once your “person type” has been established the next step is to find out the time it takes you to complete a task. Plan to gather data for three or four days. These must be typical days where your schedule doesn’t deviate. If you exercise on three days then gather data for the three days you exercise and the two you don’t. You will need are a tape recorder or other recording device (make sure to check its working and you don’t run out of tape) and a desk clock placed next to it. Find a central place where you walk through doing your morning ritual. This can be the kitchen table or the living room but it must be some place where you will need to walk past each time you go to another task.

In our example, let’s use the kitchen as the central point. You get up and walk into the kitchen flip on the recorder then talk out loud. For example,
• “Its 6 a.m.-going to make coffee (drink it) and make my lunch.”
• “Its 6:20 a.m.-going into the shower.”
• “Its 7 a.m.-taking the dog out.”
• “Its 7:12 a.m.-feeding the dog.”

And so on. Each time you walk by your recording device, say what you are currently doing or about to do. At this point do not try to examine or analyze the information, just collect it. Remember if you go upstairs to get ready for the morning you may want to move the recorder with you if you want more exacting data.

Then wait a few days and do this process again for another two days.

Have data for at least five days. Make sure they are typical days. But consider that, if you had an emergency or did something out of your routine, this information will not help you unless you do these things on a weekly basis. Once you have completed five to six days, take your list, listen to the recording and plug in your data next to the task. For example: showering, maybe some days you washed your hair and other days you didn’t so one day is 15 minutes the other is 20 minutes.

Take your data and find the average time for each task. Chances are it took double the time you thought it would. Maybe you day dream, maybe you weren’t feeling well on a given day or you got to bed late the night before. That is why data has to be collected over a period of days. You can also throw out the lowest and highest time then take the average. There is no right or wrong, this is your information for you to use so you can find out how you’re spending your time. If you are constantly behind the eight-ball then you need to find out why. Where do you think you are going to rob this time from? Your commute? Your job?

If it takes you two hours, on average, to get ready in the morning and you must leave for work by 7:30 a.m. you will need to get up by 5:30 on the nose. Morning people may have an advantage but if you are a time waster it won’t make much of a difference. This is where discipline and organizational skills really help-but that is for another article. For a lot of people, once they start running late they become anxious, which creates stress. This in turn wastes more time because you start to think about it, losing focus on the task at hand. If you punch a clock at your job you will find ways to be on time but for many who work in offices the rules are more flexible. If you were supposed to start at 8:30 and always get in at 8:40 or 8:45 you are probably not starting work until 9:15 or later. If you were to get in on time with a few moments to ease into your day you would start working by 8:30 but when you arrive late you actually need time to unload all the emotions being late created. So mentality, you waste more time. Now where is all this time going to come from? So you work late, get home late and the vicious cycle continues.

Incidentally, no matter how good a worker you are if you don’t think your boss or your co-workers don’t notice or care about your chronic lateness or delay in completing a task you are dead wrong. Believe me you annoy a lot of people.

Now that you have the basic tools to find out what you are doing with your time, then the next step is how to make changes. Change is gradual and should be taken in small steps, the first being that you want to change. If you don’t truly want to change, then you will end up putting your analysis in a closet with all the infomercial items you bought but don’t use. The choice is yours.

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