This month we had the opportunity to interview Julie Morgenstern, author of the best selling book Time Management form the Inside Out. Listen to the interview here.
On our show she mentions time mapping, a tool to help you organize your time. Julie has written this post in order to give us more insight and some simple tips to create our own time map so we can take control of our days. Thanks, Julie!
Taking Control of Your Days with a Time Map
Adapted from Time Management from the Inside Out (Holt/Owl Books) by Julie Morgenstern
A time map is a powerful tool for becoming proactive amid the swirl of demands that come your way. Simply put, a time map is a budget of your day, week, or month that carves out distinct times for each of the key departments of your life.
Instead of feeling that you have to act on every request the minute it crosses your path, your time map guides you, helping you determine whether you have time to handle an unexpected task, how much time you can devote to it, and serve as a guide to deciding when you will do it.
When you don’t have a time map, it is hard to know what to do when. Every day is a total free-for-all. You just say “yes” to whatever screams loudest, with no perspective into how to prioritize incoming requests and manage daily tasks. Of course, this is what leads to multi-tasking… just doing things as they come at you.
A time map provides structure to your day—carving out regular time for what is most essential to you. Rest assured that a time map can be adapted to your personal style, whether you thrive on routine or variety, whether you have complete or only partial control over your day. Built around your own custom set of priorities and personal style, your time map reflects who you are and what is important to you.
If you want to try time mapping, here are some tips to create one that will work for you.
Keep it Simple
A structure that schedules you to the minute is far too constricting and impossible to sustain. Also, limit yourself to no more than 3 to 5 broad categories. For a whole life time map-your categories might be “Work,” “Family,” “Personal,” “Finances,” and “Community.” A work-based time map should reflect your core responsibilities: e.g. Strategic Planning, Customer Service, Staff Management, and Administration.
Work with Your Energy Cycles
We all have natural energy cycles and moments when we can concentrate better than others. Always try to do your toughest tasks or the things you tend to procrastinate on when you’re at your peak energy level—they’ll be much easier then. Also, be sure to factor in the schedules and energy cycles of the people you live or work with when carving out your time map. It makes no sense to make room for personal quiet time when your kids first get home from school, or when your boss tends to call meetings.
Keep It Visible
In order to stay on track you need to refer to your time map throughout the day. Post it on your bulletin board, shrink it down to a wallet-sized card, or keep it in your planner. For every task that crosses your mind or your desk, refer to your time map and see where in your schedule it belongs. If you designed it properly, you’ll be surprised to discover that 80% of the time, you can funnel activities to their proper place in your schedule. You’ll begin to realize that you don’t have to be in instant-response mode all the time. As long as you have a reasonable time to get back to people, most things can wait a few hours to a few days.
Of course, a time map doesn’t work 100% of the time. It is your anchor and your compass in the storm of demands and opportunities swirling around you. A time map is a tool for taking control of your schedule and allows you to exercise your power to say “yes,” and “no,” and be in charge.
On average, your time map should work about 80 percent of the time. 20 percent of the time, you’ll have to toss your plans to the wind and deal with the urgency or opportunity of the moment. But at least most of the time, you feel in control, in the moment, and fully focused. And life feels back in control again.
So, go ahead… give it a shot! Regain control of your days and feel good about what you accomplish at the end of each day.
Julie Morgenstern, dubbed the “queen of putting people’s lives in order” by USA Today, is a New York Times bestselling author, speaker and productivity consultant. Her books including Organizing from the Inside Out, Time Management from the Inside Out, Never Check Email in the Morning, and SHED Your Stuff, Change Your Life, are timeless guides that have helped millions of people boost their productivity and effectiveness. Julie’s company has been working with individuals and companies globally for over 20 years, designing practical solutions to better organize time, space, information, projects and teams. Julie’s Organizing Institute offers one of the world’s leading training programs for Professional Organizers and Time Management coaches. For more information, you can visit her website at www.juliemorgenstern.com or read her Twitter account at @JulieMorgenstrn.