Time flies when you’re having fun, but what if you’re not having fun and your time still seems to “fly away?” Do you ever feel like your schedule runs you, rather than the other way around? Maybe you’re feeling like you can’t get everything done, or that you don’t really know where your time goes. Sound familiar? If so, a “time makeover” might be just what you need! Here are some simple strategies to help get your calendar under control:
Take stock. To truly maximize your use of time, it’s helpful to first find out how you’re currently spending your day. In a journal or on a notepad, write down what you’re doing from hour to hour for a few days. Note what your current daily schedule is (if you have one), what’s working, and what isn’t. Also notice what your energy rhythms are – are you more “up” in the evening, or are you more of a night owl?
Check it out. After keeping a log for a few days, start looking for patterns. Are you spending most of your time on the things that you want or need to do, or are you wasting lots of time procrastinating or surfing the web? Where is time being used well, and where do you see room for improvement? Also see whether the things that are most important to you are synchronized with when you are the most “up.”
Build blocks. Group your different daily tasks into categories, and then make the categories into “time blocks.” Common categories are work time (time you spend at your job or business), admin tasks (paying bills, processing paper, etc.), pleasure time (breaks and other downtime), and kid-related time (carpooling, getting the kids ready for school).
Fill it in. Look at a blank calendar, and start setting up your revised schedule. Put your time blocks onto your calendar, based on how much time the tasks within each category take up. As things come up during your day or your week, you’ll now have time literally “blocked out” for the tasks to fit into. Try to group related tasks together – for instance, if you noted in your logs that you were paying bills online on Tuesday and writing checks on Friday, try to group those together on your calendar. Every process that you can group or streamline will make a difference in how efficient you can be.
Keep at it. After you’ve filled in your time blocks with tasks, you’ll be left with a revamped schedule. Try implementing your new schedule slowly – that way you can make adjustments and tweaks. If something works well – great! If not, see if you can shift a task to another time block or shift the blocks around. Keep with it until you find the mix that works for you.
You CAN get control over your schedule! With a little advance planning and a few of my tips, you’ll soon be master of your day once more.