Time management skills are ideally something we learn in our teens and perfect in our twenties, but the accelerated pace of modern life can feel designed to prevent us from ever getting on top of things. There just never seem to be enough hours in the day, not with work responsibilities, home responsibilities, errands needing run, and the (very) necessary activities or hobbies that keep us sane.
But the thing is, there are enough hours in the day. 24 of them, in fact! And be honest: you probably spend more than a few of these not only being unproductive, but locked into an unnecessary and unloved time suck you could easily do away with once you see it for what it is.
Here’s an easy way to look at your days a little more clearly. Pick a start day (Mondays work great), and from that point forward, in a pocket notebook you'll bring with you everywhere, track every single thing you do for one week. Write down when you wake up, when you head into work, when you’re done for the day, when you get home, what chores you do, how long they take, when and how you relax, and when you go to bed.
Even if you’re just watching TV, note that, and for how long. Heading to the gym? Write it down, with notes on your workout, too, if you’d like. Do it right, and a day’s entry will read something like this:
6:30 – wake up
6:45 – shower, get ready
7:10 – breakfast, coffee, news
7:45 – leave for work
8:15 to 5:30 – work
6 – home from work, play with kids, make dinner
7:15 to 8:45 – yoga class
8:45 – back home, help with homework, tuck in kids
9:30 to 11:30 – TV with husband, bed, lights out
Now that’s a full day! But once you get into doing this regularly, you’ll start to see entries like “4:15 to 5:30 – TV, nothing on” or “7 – wake up, lay in bed for forty-five minutes”. There’s nothing wrong with either of those, as such (we all need to relax), but if you’re constantly overwhelmed, those are prime targets for elimination or restructuring; like, say, getting some reading done while laying in bed, or using that hour not watching anything important on TV to put in time on a hobby that refreshes you emotionally or physically.
Get the hang of the project overall, and you'll start to apply it to your work life. Instead of “8:15 to 5:30 – work”, you’ll have “9 – arrive at work; 9:15 – coffee with Liz; 10 – respond to emails; 10:30 – begin Johnson report; 11:15 -- meeting with content marketers…” and on and on. Focus on developing better time management skills, in both your life and at work, and you’ll be amazed what you find!