At this point, you’ve performed a brain dump of every activity in your life (and the activities you’d like to include in your life) and have quite possibly recoiled in horror at the magnitude of it all. Before we attempt to bring order to the chaotic — and pages long — list, we need to do one more step. In the first post of this series, I said this:
To get on top of your schedule, you need to know what you have, what you don’t have, and what you need. [Tweet.]
Consider this: You want to organize your disaster of a closet. It currently has little to no structure at all, so you know you’ll need to get some closet rods, shelves, bins, and other supplies. Before you make your purchases, you write down a list of things you’d like to put in your closet and things you remember storing there. If you stop there and skip off to The Container Store without looking in your closet, you’re in for trouble. You’ll invariably find 30 clothing items more than you thought you had, along with four-foot stuffed Pooh. Then it’s back to The Container Store for you . . . with less skipping this time.
Likewise, while it’s a critical starting point and gets you flying down the path to success, it’s not enough to write down what you want in your schedule, what you recall having in your schedule, and what amount of time you estimate that each of those activities occupies. In order to create a time management plan that truly works for you, you need to see what’s really occupying your time and how long those tasks are really taking.
You need to track your time.
I’ve met few people who relish the idea of writing down how they’re spending their time. It’s like counting calories or ounces of water you consume in a day.
Aim for time tracking for a week or two — whatever you think will give you a decent representation of your schedule. Be as general or specific as you wish. You can jot down that you spent an hour on chores or detail the time it took to do the dishes, take out the trash, etc.
With effective time tracking, you’ll be able to answer the following questions:
- What activities typically require my time?
- When and how often do those activities occur?
- Exactly how much time do those activities require?
Once you are armed with the answers to these questions and the giant list of activities you already crafted, you can go about setting it all in order.
Stay tuned for the next post in this series, coming soon . . .