Skip to content

Making Time 4 YOU: 4 Time Management Tips

  • by

Marketing Career Prep | Western Technical College | Fall 2021

“I don’t have time.”

How often do you find yourself uttering these four words like a reflex? For many of us it is our default excuse not to try something new.

Now imagine if you did have the time. How different would your life be if you had the time not only for duties, but also for personal enrichment?

By practicing 4 simple time-management exercises you will become so efficient at completing what you have to do that you’ll find time for what you want to do.  Join me on a transformational time-management journey as we try out these 4 exercises.

  • Time-log & pie chart
  • Time-blocking
  • Eat-the-Frog
  • Pomodoro

Wake up and Smell the Monotony: Revelations of a Time log

Consider the first week of your time-management metamorphoses as the observation period. For one week, record all your happenings in a time log. If you’re a digital whiz, Microsoft Excel is an ideal program for this project.

Next, group all activities into broad categories (work, social, etc.). Add up the total hours spent on each category and divide that by the total amount of hours in a week (168). This calculates the percentage of time spent during each week on each category.

Then, chart these percentages on a pie chart, assigning each category a distinct color. Step back, take a deep look at your life and see your true colors (or lack thereof, in my case).  All work, sleep, and no play; how monotone my life had become!

Perception of time can get distorted by the mind. Moments can seem shorter or longer than they actually are. Laying a time log out in front of you gives an objective look at how you spend your hours so you can identify your priorities and correct bad habits.

Q: How can you change your week to live a well-balanced, more fulfilled lifestyle?

A: Plan ahead with the time blocking method.

The time blocking exercise also makes use of a weekly time log. However, this week we are going to plan out our schedule ahead of time. So, get your priorities and your blank time log in order.

First, block off the times of all meetings, appointments, and mandatory events. Consider your priorities and carve time in your week for them. When the event comes, you will feel mentally prepared to seize the day!

After reviewing my time log from the previous week, I decided my number one priority must be self-care. Sometimes I get so absorbed in my work forget to take breaks, eat, and exercise. 

In my projected schedule I made sure to pen in some R & R between duties as well as some light workouts. Adequate self-care will mentally and physically condition you to work with gusto. Be sure to Block off 7-9 hours of sleep every night to be a high performer during the day.

Tip: Microsoft Outlook and Google calendars are a great way to stay organized. Because they sync to all your devices, you can access your schedule on the go. You can also set reminders and alarms, so you don’t miss a thing.

Frog is on the Menu: The Eat-the-Frog Method

Although I don’t condone eating amphibians, I do recommend you try the “Eat-the-Frog” method for productivity. Coined by Mark Twain, this method suggests you tackle your most daunting duty FIRST, before all lesser tasks.

“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”

Mark Twain

By doing the worst thing first thing you’re fresh and not burnt out from other duties. When the job’s complete, your mind will be unburdened from worry and dread so you can focus on your subsequent tasks at hand. Frog, it’s what’s for breakfast.

My frog was a big bullfrog named Excel Spreadsheets. Numbers and formulas are not my cup of tea. But mid-Tuesday morning in the library, I dined on frog, and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Perhaps I’m acquiring a taste for spreadsheets. Bon a petit Excel!

Pomodoro Gets Ticked Off

Have you ever been working on a project and realized several hours have passed and you have barely accomplished anything?

If you dawdle on your duties, the Pomodoro method will challenge you to work with urgency. This technique requires you to set a timer for twenty-five minutes of intense, focused work. When the timer sounds, you must commit to a solid 5-minute break, in both body and mind.

Because I’m prone to perfectionism when writing, this blog post was a perfect Pomodoro test pilot. Instead of my typical fumbling around for flowery phrases, I managed to get a rough draft written down. (Although it took several Pomodoro rounds).

When you give Pomodoro a try, find a timer that audibly ticks so you are always aware you’re racing the clock. My first Pomodoro attempt, I set the timer on my phone, but after a minute, I forgot about it and went back to putzing with prose for the next 24 minutes. When the timer blared it startled me to the ceiling.

If you struggle with work-life balance, practicing these time-management techniques can help you work more efficiently so you have more time for a dynamic life. Some people use life to procrastinate on work, while others use work to procrastinate on life. No matter what your time-management issue is, these exercises will help you become more organized and productive with your time, so you’re your default reply to invitations will no longer be “I don’t have time.”

Comment below if you tried any of these exercises. Which methods worked for you? What are some tips you have to improve time management?