Life, Productivity, Work

Time Management 101: Pt. 2

If you tuned in yesterday for part one, we’re talking about time management.  If you haven’t read yesterday’s post, I recommend looking back and starting with priorities, the foundation for effective time management.


The next thing I need to do is to assign a time to each task, designating how long it takes to accomplish this goal.  The temptation here is to think that I can accomplish something in less time than I really can, so always allow yourself more time than you think:

1. Drive to Work – It takes me exactly 19 minutes to drive to work.  However, to allow 19 minutes would be foolish.  I cannot control traffic, accidents, needing to stop for gas at the last minute, getting stuck behind someone driving below the speed limit, or catching every red light possible.  So, I always allow 27 minutes.

2. Dry/Straighten Hair – If I’m just straightening my hair, I can do this in 10 minutes.  If I’m blow-drying too, I can realistically do that in 10 minutes.  Let’s assume I needed to dry and straighten, so we’ll assign this task 20 minutes.

3. Get Dressed/Makeup – I’m actually pretty fast in this department (as long as I can find my shoes).  I’ll allow 7 minutes for both.

4. Prepare lunch – If I’m grabbing a soup, this is only a 2-second project.  However, most of the time I’m packing a homemade salad.  So, that’s a 4-minute process if I include grating a few baby carrots and some cheddar cheese for on-top (and nibbling).

5. Run – I run 7 miles on mornings, so at my race of speed, I’m looking at a 56-minute run, not to mention the 3-minute drive to and from the gym. So, realistically, I’m looking at 62 minutes for that.

6. Breakfast – On days when I pack a breakfast, the at-home prep might consist of grabbing an apple or banana on the run.  If I’m eating a bowl of cereal, that takes about 2 minutes. If I’m making an omelet, we’re looking at 5-minutes.

7. Shower – I have to be honest that I’m pretty fast in this department, so we’re looking at 10 minutes.

8. Throw in load of laundry – I would give this a 4-minute label once I gather laundry from the 2ndfloor, etc.
9.Load/Unload Dishwasher – If I’m loading, I’m looking at 5 minutes.

10. Clean one bathroom – I would say that depends on the room….

Okay, without even filling out #10, we can see that if I’m to add all the times together, we’re looking at …..

2 hours, 24 minutes… without any time for slowing down, no hiccups, no leeway…

In order to make sure that I accomplish all my goals for the morning, keeping my priorities intact, I must work backwards with my numbers from the time I must be at work, to the time I must leave for work, and the time it takes to accomplish my morning tasks, until I arrive at the time I need to rise in the morning.

So, according to my numbers, I need to be getting up at 6:08am.

Yes, I knew that.  Yes, I recognize that today I did not.  So, what happens?  Because we have determined priority and taken into account the amount of time those projects/processes take, on those mornings I get up late/sleep in, I can determine already what changes need to take place and what tasks I must leave out.  So, according to my schedule, if I get up at 6:20, I am already 10 minutes behind.  Either I leave for work late and drive like a maniac and hope to avoid getting pulled over, or I must look at my list and determine which tasks I can leave out.  Immediately, I can see that the dishwasher might not get loaded/unloaded (5 min), the laundry doesn’t get started (4 min), and my breakfast gets cut down from an omelet (5 min) to a bowl of cereal (2 min).  Right there, I have cut out 11 minutes and can make up the other minute with a faster shower, a different hairstyle, etc, or maybe I’ll just arrive at work 1 minute later (which, if you’ve been paying attention, will still get me to work early.)  As much as possible, avoid taking making up any time by borrowing from a category that is fluctuating.  I cannot guarantee only a 19-minute drive to work, so I’ll borrow my time from a task that I know has a consistent time of completion.

So, in essence, time management is not possible without prioritization. Prioritization determines the foundation for what I want to accomplish and the necessity of those tasks being completed at a certain time.

For more discussion on prioritization and how to determine this, check out:

Talk About It Tuesdays: Priorities and Motivations

Talk About It Tuesdays: Productivity (Pt. 1)

Talk About It Tuesdays: Productivity (Pt. 2)

Talk About It Tuesdays: Productivity (Pt. 3)

Talk About It Tuesdays: Productivity (Pt. 4)

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