Reconfiguring my Time Management

Time management is one of those things that Information Technology has made a fundamental requirement to living and managing day-to-day tasks (and it's a shame that Time Management is not a required course for everyone in IT). I consider myself fairly good with my own time management but lately I have been feeling as though the ratio of stuff getting done to the stuff I want to do is growing further and further apart. My todo lists always seem to be growing and never getting any shorter. Prioritizing and feeling as though I'm making progress on a day-to-day basis feels like a continuous, never ending up hill battle. I'm putting out the fires, but not building new cities.

When I read Sid Savara's "More Important than Money - Paying Myself First With My Time" post, I was incredibly encouraged by the fact that his observations of time and valuing time were almost identical to my own. I have always felt that it makes the most sense to start the day early; to get the things that matter most to you done early so that if you're wiped out at the end of the day, it's OK.

I'm somewhat of an organization freak and having things organized and structured helps me get things done. I don't like creating a schedule because schedules constantly change. Instead, I like creating time-goals so that I'm aware of approximately where my time is going. To start, I created somewhat of a framework for my weekly time:

Monday - Friday
2 hours - Personal Hygiene / Breakfast / Dinner
2 hours - Fitness/Yoga
3 hours - Commuting
8 hours - Work / Lunch
2 hours - Personal Projects / Reading / Writing / Learning
7 hours - Sleep

Saturday - Sunday
2 hours - Personal Hygiene / Breakfast / Dinner
2 hours - Fitness/Yoga
8 hours - Sleep
8 hours - Personal Projects / Reading / Writing / Learning
4 hours - Outdoor & Other Activities

While creating this outline I was surprised to discover how little time I have left for personal projects, reading, writing, and learning during the week. Those things are, of course, what I enjoy doing most and yet they make up only a fraction of my available time. Admittedly, I'm only spending about 1 hour a day on fitness right now, but I consider fitness to be of utmost importance and the highest-value item on the list. Also, I tend to get less than 7 hours of sleep and usually spend the time on personal projects, but sleep is an important part of health too.

Now that I've developed this outline for my time, I'm going to put it into practice and see how I can tweak it.

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  1. The hardest for me is cutting out the leisure down. Let say I set aside two hours for dinner with friends, and then intend to go home, play guitar and sleep.

    Now suppose I end up staying for three. When I get home, I have to choose – do I skip my leisurely guitar playing, give up some sleep, or sleep in and skip the workout?

    I’d like to see an update how it goes for you – just like GTD, I tend to fall off the wagon from time to time =)

    • I’ve definitely experienced the same problem when I tried following a more scheduled routine. What’s worse, the personal projects (programming) and writing often soak up way more time than I allot for them. But when I’m in a creative mood, or I’m “in the zone”, it’s kind of hard to justify stopping just to keep my routine on track.

      I read David Allen’s GTD book once, picked up a bunch of tips and attempt to apply the method, but I feel like I’m missing some key parts. I know I’ve got the “write everything down” part because I feel like I’m doing nothing but writing stuff down! Now I just need to master the getting stuff done part, hah. 🙂

    • I don’t plan my days, Ben. This post was merely an outline of where my time goes. I hate creating daily schedules and trying to stick to them for the very reason you mentioned: it doesn’t allow for creative and spontaneous freedom. I suppose a better title for this post would have been “Reevaluating My Time Usage”.