4 Keys for Finding Your Time Traps

find your time clutterIt’s National Clutter Awareness Week and we’re pointing our attention toward the productivity damaging clutter in your life.  Monday, we offered some tips for eliminating clutter in your workspaces. Today’s post deals with time clutter, a common issue that affects your daily productivity.

Are you coping with an overload of commitments in your life? Learning to deal with everything being thrown at you is a valuable and productive skill.

You have time clutter, and that means you’re overbooked, overscheduled, over-tasked, over-assigned, and overcommitted. It’s the state of having more activities planned than your timeframe permits.

What do you do? You can’t find more time – unless you’re willing to sacrifice even more of your downtime or home life, which destroys much-needed balance.

Instead, here are some tips for identifying and minimizing the time clutter in your life.

Get real

Are you tracking your time? Give it a try for a week.

Keep a running journal on how you spend your time, each hour of the day. You might be shocked how you’re piling on your workload instead of spreading it out evenly. Time tracking allows you to have a dose of reality — a true assessment as to what you can accomplish each day.

Schedule tighter

Are you making a detailed schedule each day? It’s a great slump buster.

It sounds quite inflexible, but it may be just the remedy for a hectic workweek. Try scheduling out your entire day in half hour segments for one week – it will teach you to focus your efforts equally amongst your many commitments and it will isolate things you simply can’t get done.

Protect your time

Do you avoid interruptions during your day? Create a new distraction-free strategy.

Shutting your door , so-to-speak, is a great way to minimize the opportunities for time distraction. While time-tracking, be sure to record all time spent on drop-ins, unscheduled meetings, email labeled “urgent,” lengthy phone calls, and unexpected fires that need putting-out. You’ll likely see a few patterns of unplanned activities competing for your time, which you will need to anticipate in your planning.

Learn to minimize

Are you saying no to certain requests during your day? Well, then it’s time to start.

Just like cleaning out your closet, in ridding yourself of time clutter you will need to sacrifice certain activities and commitments that you don’t need or use. Perhaps it’s a work task that can be delegated, or a social committee you struggle to attend. Cut one “throwaway” activity out for a month and see if it frees up your schedule — you can always go back.

Remember: You only have so much time. Commit yourself to being more productive by minimizing your time clutter.

[photo by Aaron Geller]
Jeff Doubek can be reached at jeff.doubek@daytimer.com

3 thoughts on “4 Keys for Finding Your Time Traps

  1. I struggle with this on a daily basis! I am the homeschooling mom of five kids, and though I know that interruptions are the order of the day sometimes, it still tends to get out of hand some days. I agree with you that the tighter you schedule your day, the more it makes you aware of just what you can and cannot say “yes” to. I have found that your 24 hour planner pages are WONDERFUL, because they force me to think through the entire day, no matter what happens to be on the schedule for that day!

    1. Thank you for commenting Susan. I’m glad you’ve found the 24 hour planner useful. Few people schedule their day outside of work, but having that big picture of your whole life gives you such great balance.

      Keep up the great work! ~ Jeff

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