31 Day Reset: Day 15 – Time Audit

I’m participating in the 31 Days to Reset Your Life program at Happy Black Woman. The program is designed to help you evaluate your goals and priorities and think of them in the context of your life today and how you might be able to refocus on what’s important. Read on to learn about my experience with the challenge!

Today’s exercise was pretty simple: do a time audit of a 24 hour period. Select a day (or average day) and write out everything you did during that period. This will theoretically allow you to evaluate how you really spend your time and if you really “don’t have time” to work on personal development.

I’m going to be upfront and tell you I didn’t find value in this exercise. I work full time, am getting my masters, have all my family around, and many of my close friends here. I just moved back home so the hype is still there (although not as bad when we first came up). We don’t have any TV (we subscribe to Netflix but it’s not like we watch all the time). And finally – I have a health condition that essentially mandates I have some rest time. Although I don’t even get as much as I should.

So, needless to say, I have been mindful of how I spend my time before this exercise. Getting rid of TV was really when the switch happened (which was almost a year ago – it was part of my new years life change last year). Yes, I spend some time on Facebook, but I argue that keeps me sane – without a little bit of that, anyone would go crazy!

Anyway, I still did the exercise. I don’t really have a typical day so I just chose yesterday. Mind you, this is very different because I am not in school right now so I don’t have reading/studying built in. But I do have the addition of the 31 Day Reset, so perhaps it balances out a bit.

6:00am-7:00am: sleep
7:00am-8:00am: shower, breakfast, drive to work
8:00am-9:00am: work: gift entry
9:00am-10:00am: work: gift entry
10:00am-11:000am: work: gift entry
11:00am-12:00pm: work: set up for development committee meeting
12:00pm:1:00pm: work: development committee meeting (participate & take minutes)
1:00pm-2:00pm: development committee meeting (participate & take minutes, clean up)
2:00pm-3:00pm: work: gift entry
3:00pm-4:00pm: work: gift entry
4:00pm-5:00pm: work: gift entry
5:00pm-6:00pm: drive home, email, Facebook, Twitter
6:00pm-7:00pm: email, Facebook, Twitter
7:00pm-8:00pm: get Christmas tree
8:00pm-9:00pm: pick up and eat dinner
9:00pm-10:00pm: work on 31 Day Reset
10:00pm-11:00pm: pay bills
11:00pm-12:00am: unwind, one episode of Modern Family
12:00am-1:00am: sleep
1:00am-2:00am: sleep
2:00am-3:00am: sleep
3:00am-4:00am: sleep
4:00am-5:00am: sleep
5:00am-6:00am: sleep

I’d love your feedback if you can identify pockets of time that are unnecessary or that I could do differently. Maybe I’m too close to my schedule and am not thinking objectively enough. Let me know if you disagree!! Because I could use another hour in the day!!!


Overwhelmed? Join the Club

I’m participating in this month’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival – time management tips. You can read more about it at Have Fun Do Good here (that’s a great blog, too, by the way). I really couldn’t ask for a better prompt. One piece of feedback from my review was that I am too productive – time management is something I’ve got in the bag. Even with this knack for productivity, I still get overwhelmed sometimes, as we all do. These are some of my favorite tips for time management.

  • Prioritize. I put this one first for a reason. This is the most important thing you can do to manage your time well! Take your task list and rank it in order. What is timely? What is important to your boss? What is a big hairy project that you need to spread out over several days? Take all of these things into account and put your tasks in order. After you’ve done that, only concentrate on the first 3-5. Monday morning you can re-evaluate your list, so don’t get worried you will miss a deadline for item #6.
  • Schedule consistent time. If there’s something that doesn’t make your priority list every week, but is still important and requires ongoing maintenance, put an appointment on your calendar weekly or monthly to work on it. When it’s on your calendar, there’s added accountability to do it. And you’ll get an Outlook reminder 15 minutes before! For example, I put database clean-up on my calendar every Monday from 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. This way I’m slowly but surely working on something that feels like a huge project (and it feels smaller when I make some progress on it).
  • Use Outlook tasks. Emily Baime taught me how to use tasks back in the day, and my work life has been transformed. So many people still use a pad of paper, or worse, post its. Outlook tasks allows you to set deadlines for each task, mark priorities, and keep track of progress. Every week I update it according to priority (Monday of that week is high priority, Friday is projects on the backburner, etc) and even put in those 1-5 rankings we talked about. Don’t be shy, click on that little icon and give it a try!
  • Mix up your projects. Keep things interesting. Update event collateral, run database reports, and read an article in the same afternoon. Doing different things allows you to stay focused and energized and allows for better work.
  • Realize you’re not saving the world. I’m sure you’re doing important work, but remember, if you take a break, the world isn’t going to crumble. Take a few days off on a consistent basis. It will help you recharge your batteries and give you a fresh perspective on your projects when you return.

Remember – nothing is a crisis. Although it may seem like all of your tasks are important, keep breathing and remember that all will get accomplished in due time. And don’t forget to smile!!