Learn how to consciously track time management and make the most of your day with a healthy balance between productivity and fun.
Sometimes it feels like you’re going and going and going but never getting anything done. Like there’s never enough time in the day. I know that feeling, and I know it very well. But I also know that a lot of that time we do spend is on things that aren’t actually useful. There are so many time wasters out there, and I’ll bet you fall for at least a few of them. I’ve got a super helpful time management exercise you can do to really hone in on how you spend every minute of your day, and how much time you really do have. I can almost guarantee you’ve got more than you thought.
My Life Changing Time Management Experience
When I was in college, I had a professor who was literally obsessed with time management. I honestly don’t even remember what subject she was teaching, because it seemed like all she ever talked about was time management. And while this was somewhat annoying to hear about twice a week, her teachings are probably the most useful thing I’ve taken away from college altogether.
One day she instructed us to keep a week-long log of every single thing we do. Right down to the second. I sat there thinking this crazy woman is not about to make me walk around for a week staring at my watch and noting my every move. But she did make me do it. And I’m still thanking her for it today. If I went to the bathroom, I logged it from start to finish. If I washed my hands, I logged it. If I took a nap, I logged it. If I walked to the mailbox, it was in my notebook.
By the end of the week, I was a little horrified. As I looked over my notebook (which we did not have to reveal to anyone, luckily) I noticed that I spent a lot of time, real actual time, doing dumb things. And I noticed I didn’t spend much time on things that really mattered. That three hour nap looked pretty embarrassing when it happened on the same day I should have been studying for an exam. And the Saturday I spent all morning watching TV made me feel crappy when I remembered I hadn’t done any laundry and I had zero pairs of clean pants.
Not All Wasted Time Is Really Wasted
Yes, my naps and TV binge sessions were unproductive as hell, but wasting time isn’t always a bad thing. If I had spent every waking minute of the week doing some kind of work, by Sunday I’d be a cranky walking zombie ready to rip the head off anyone who spoke to me. Chill time is something we really do need, but we have to make sure it’s balanced. Mine wasn’t. More than half of my time logged was unproductive. Those ratios are bad.
Fast forward to grown up me, and I still have my chill time. But I make time for it when it’s appropriate. I relax with a cup of tea on the porch after work. I read quietly at night before bed. I watch Ellen every weekday. But I also get shit done. Time to waste has become a reward for me, and it’s a seriously motivating incentive.
How To Get Better At Time Management
It’s really very simple. You’ve just got to plan better and discipline yourself. You’re a big girl or boy, right? You make your own decisions? By taking control of your actions, you can make the most of your day and stop complaining about “not enough hours.” Come on, that phrase is reserved for old men counting down the days to retire from their 50+ years of factory work. If you’re in that category, by all means, complain. But it’s still not going to get you anywhere.
Want To Know How Much Time You Waste?
You might find that you spend way too many hours on social media. Or you may be on the other end of the spectrum and realize you’re devoting too many hours to your work and not spending enough time with your family.
By honestly analyzing your daily activities, you’ll see on paper what you’ve been making a priority. More times than not, your actions aren’t exactly what you value the most. As you write things down, don’t change anything you do. Don’t adjust your schedule or keep yourself busy just to make yourself look better. You won’t get clear results that way. Just live your life and log it. No one will see your logs and you can trash them after you finish. This is the one time you’ve got to be totally transparent with yourself in order for it to benefit your life.
Want More Time Management Tips?
Visit the Lifestyle section of the site (and its special subsection for Planning), and follow the Life Organization Pinterest board for all things time management, scheduling, and productivity, plus on-the-go organizing hacks.