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Do you "budget" your time as well as your money? Learn some tips to better "budget" your time today.

How to Have More Time

alarm clock
Time is important!

86,400.  That’s how many seconds are in each day.  Everyone gets the same time “budget” every day.  How do you budget your time?

Fill in the blank – If I had more time, I would ____________________________________________. 

Now, either open or print the MyTime Block.  Write in how you use your time during a normal day. Color the blocks according to the time usage.  Now, what color would you like to see more of?  Are you happy with your colors?  What could you do differently? 

Part of making changes involves tracking what you do now.  So track how you spend your time.  Some phones will help you see how much screen time you use (across devices!) or you can get apps to track it.  You may be surprised at how much time you spend doing things that don’t really help you.  You can keep it low-tech by writing down how you spend your time if a small notebook.  This is just one small step – for tracking what you do now in other habits, be sure and take the survey

Are you investing your time wisely?  Knowing how long routine tasks take also helps you with planning.  I usually think that I don’t have time to sweep & mop the kitchen.  But I timed myself one day and was surprised that it took less than 10 minutes!  So now I know that if I have 10 minutes, I can accomplish something and not just sit and surf social media.

Prioritize!  Make time for the things you need to do and the things you really want to do.  Let everything else be optional.  For example, there are many wonderful events going on this time of year.  From fun stuff to fundraisers, you can stay busy!  But if you’d rather be home, drinking hot cocoa, and playing a board game with the family, make THAT your priority.  Don’t get so busy that you don’t have time to make simple memories with your family. 

Do you use a calendar?  Or some other planning tool?  You can have elaborate systems or just a list.  I have been using electronic calendars for years.  I can check my calendar on any device and it syncs automatically.  I can schedule reminders (like birthdays), events (school gets out early! Or Snacks for class), along with work events.  I never have to say, “I don’t have my calendar.”  When I’m at the dentist and they schedule my next appointment, I can put it on my calendar (and make sure it works with my schedule then).  This leads to the next point….organize!

Organize! I don’t have to keep up with a little appointment card from the dentist’s office because I already put it on my calendar.  Not a big deal, but one less little piece of paper, one less thing to do later.  Organize your life with less clutter (more on that in the future!).  One thing to work on for now though – handle it ONCE.  I check the mailbox so I can immediately throw away the junk.  I handle it only once (from the mailbox to the trash).  If I get a bill, it goes in the “to pay” box.  If I get something to keep, it goes in the “to file” box.  Occasionally, we get an invitation.  I put it in an obvious place until we respond as quickly as possible.  Then I either throw it away or post it with the calendar. 

Another tip is to delegate.  Sometimes we have a hard time delegating but it is worth it in the long run.  Teaching the kids to clean the kitchen may take a little more time now, but it pays off in the future when they can clean it all up themselves.  You can also “buy” time to save time.  Could you pay someone else to do a job? 

Are you a procrastinator?  Maybe the job seems overwhelming or unpleasant?  When I was working on my master’s degree, I had to take a Research Methods class.  I dreaded it.  A huge research paper! How would I ever get it done?!  In the very first class, Dr. Akpanudo broke the task down into very manageable parts and even made it seem simple.  And I did it.  Break down the big task into smaller tasks.  Cleaning the house may seem overwhelming.  But picking up clutter, dusting, and sweeping make it more manageable because I can pick up in a few minutes, dust a little later, and then sweep before bed. 

Do you have time wasters? What about your phone?  Do you check email constantly?  Turn off notifications.  You’ll be surprised at how much you get done because you’re not interrupted.  Focusing on the task at hand instead of multi-tasting is also a good time saver.  Recent studies have shown that multi-tasking does not actually save time!  It can lead to difficulty in concentrating and maintaining focus. 

The last thing brings it full circle – stay healthy!  Invest in yourself buy caring for your body and your mind.  Give yourself the attention you need.  Schedule exercise so you’ll get it done and feel better. 

Remember, these small steps can make big impacts in your big picture. Small things can add up, especially during this busy holiday season! 


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