STEP 1: Inventory your time. Before you can begin to learn how to manage your time wisely, you must first determine where you are spending it. Taking an inventory of your time can do just that.
There are certain things that all of us must do daily, weekly, or even monthly. Make a list of basic activities on which you spend your time, such as, sleeping, eating, working, leisure activities, family, finances, household, etc. Keep a time diary for a month, noting approximately how much time you spend on each of these activities per day, per week, or per month.
STEP 2: Identify time wasters. Often times, we are unaware of just how much time is lost during our day because of time wasters. By taking an inventory of your time, you will be able to identify those things that are less important than others but seem to constantly take priority.
In addition to the activity categories suggested in Step 1, you may want to include an extra category called *time wasters.* Make a note in your time diary of those things that take up a good chunk of your time but are not really necessary, such as surfing the Internet for hours, too much television, or excessive socializing at work.
STEP 3: Keep a TO DO list. In order to be able to determine priority of certain tasks, and to avoid becoming a constant victim of time wasters, a TO DO list can be extremely helpful.
I like to categorize mine, instead of simply writing down a list of things to do and numbering them randomly. Category A is for vital things, such as paying the bills on payday. Category B is for important activities but those may not have a particular date associated with them, such as grocery shopping. Finally, I have Category C for low-priority items that I would like to get to eventually, such as cleaning out the garage.
Regardless of how you decide to structure your TO DO list, keeping the list and making sure it stays up-to-date can assist you greatly in managing your time efficiently.
STEP 4: Budget your time. Budgeting your time goes hand-in-hand with the TO DO list and the time inventory, and it helps you establish priorities.
Develop a budget of your time similar to how you would budget your finances by creating a chart based on the same activity categories you used for your time inventory. Determine how many hours you should be spending on each activity by reviewing the actual hours spent per task that you recorded in your time diary. Based on your actual hours, decide what is reasonable, and note that on your time budget.
STEP 5: Plan your calendar. To pull it all together, the final step is to plan your calendar. Keep it realistic by not overloading yourself with too many activities and events in one day, or even one week. This can be accomplished by comparing your TO DO list with your time budget. Recognizing that there will be the occasional time waster that will find its way into your day, be sure to keep an hour or two open for those and for unexpected interruptions.
These 5 steps are not a cure-all to an overloaded calendar or numerous time wasters, but they can get you headed in the right direction to solving your time management ills.
Written Lynn Jacobs - She is a Christian life coach, writer, and speaker. To learn more you can visit her website at www.newjourneychristianlifecoaching.com.