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Reload this page Managing Personal Time

This is a summary of many training classes on personal time management. I welcome Your comments?? and suggestions.

“Excuse me, but I'm the middle of 15 things—all of them annoying.”


Topics this page:

  • The Toolkit
  • The Steps
  • Excuses
  • Explanations
  • More Tips
  • Getting Value
  • Rocks In A Jar
  • Resources
  • Your comments???

    Site Map List all pages on this site 
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    Our Toolkit

    on this page Environment
    on this page Roles
    on this page Values
    on this page Purpose
    on this page Goals & Objectives
    on this page Projects
    on this page Notes
    on this page Schedules
    on this page Project Plans
    on this page Milestones
    on this page Calendar
    on this page Sequence
    on this page Daily Priorities List
    Lame Excuses

    The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali.  Get this print framed on your wall!
    Get this print framed for your wall!

    • “Hard work has a future payoff. Laziness pays off now.”
    • “I'm so busy, I just can't get around to it.”
    • “We were so busy fighting the alligators that we forgot we could just drain the swamp.”

    Montres Molles by Salvador Dali.  Get this print framed on your wall!
    Get this print framed for your wall!


    A resource I highly recommend! Where does your bliss meet the world's hunger?


    A resource I highly recommend! Don't let the urgent rob the important.


    A resource I highly recommend! Work your dream.


    A resource I highly recommend! Stay Focused.


    A resource I highly recommend! Finish well.


    A resource I highly recommend! Be Consistent.


    A resource I highly recommend! Do what you say you will do.


    A resource I highly recommend! Think ahead.


    A resource I highly recommend! Seize the day!


    A resource I highly recommend! Just Do It!


    A resource I highly recommend!


    Flicking is a rarefied art: it involves doing other, less important work, rather than the true work at hand.

    Notice in a dry cleaner's window:


    The Steps: How to Be Productive

    The Letter by Marguerite Pearson.   Get this print framed on your wall!
    Get this print framed for your wall!

    1. Find a regular quiet time and a lonely place with no distractions.

      Some people do their personal planning late at night when everyone else is asleep (and can't disturb them).

      Additionally, set aside one morning every month to adjust our plan. Most organizations have an annual meeting or “retreat” when they spend an entire day each year to revaluate where they have been and where they are going. We need to do the same for our own career.

    2. ScriptureNo discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11 (NIV)

    3. Review the values behind each role in our life.

      Values are what we live for, what gives our lives meaning and fulfillment. Examples:

      “Be an effective parent.”
      “Be a benefit to my customers.”
      “Be a contributor to my community.”

      What happens when the demands of one role (being a breadwinner) inevitably conflicts with the needs of another role (being a parent)?

      “I have a lot of balls to keep in the air as I juggle my life. If I'm under or overspending in one area, it's usually at the expense of something else.”

    4. What are the possible strategies available to balance the various roles in our life?

      Scripture“For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do--living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.” 1 Peter 4:3 (NIV)

    5. Review the Purpose for our life. Not just goals.

      Purpose defines what contribution we hope to make from our life's work. Examples:

      “Raise a child to maturity.”
      “Create good jobs in the community where I live.”

      One person who took the time to write down what he wanted out of life said “I feel so much more joy in my life when I remember what I'm living for. Putting my desires on paper focused me toward solutions rather than complaints.”

    6. “The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.... The purpose of human life is to serve and to show compassion and the will to help others.” —Albert Schweitzer

      People often mistake having a purpose with achieving goals and objectives.

      Objectives are subjective situations. Examples:

      “Feel safe in my home.”
      “Find a well-paying job.”
      “Provide for my own retirement income.”
      “Create a local radio station for teenagers.”
      “Provide college education for children in foster care.”

      Goals are numerical measures desired. Examples:

      “Spend at least one night a week with ____.”
      “Accumulate $40,000 for a down payment on a house within 5 years.”

      “It is more important to know where you are going than how to get there quickly. Do not mistake activity for achievement.” —Mabel Newcomber

      Motivational experts recommend posting reminders of what we and our organization want to achieve on our mirror or refrigerator door so we'll be sure to look at it throughout each day.

      Scripture“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

    7. Review our List of Projects and Desired Strategic Allocations.

      “Determining the optimal and maximum amounts I want to invest in each project during a quiet time allows me to make choices while I have a clear head. I can be more confident making decisions when I'm in the heat of a crisis.”

      Role -- Project -- Allocations of time, money
      Body - Vacation
      Parent - Quality time
      Contributor - School

    8. Review the prior day's Notes for any follow-up actions needed.

      “When I first started writing down what I actually accomplished throughout the day, it seemed like a waste of time, but I now treasure my work notes as a source of encouragement. My days don't become a blur. Without a written record, I can't objectively evaluate how wisely I spent my resources and what I can realistically expect to accomplish over future weeks and months.”

    9. Block out time for performing on-going Activities from our Master Schedule.

      “I don't worry about missing out on celebrations, and other special events now because I have a checklist of what I need to do or get every Day, Week, Month, Quarterly, and same day each Year.”

      “This lets me anticipate the special moments in life. Looking at my calendar gives me a boost of hope and optimism.”

    10. Transfer pre-scheduled Events and Appointments from our Project Plans.

      Milestones are important events associated with a specific point in time.

      “Writing down every promise I make helps me build a reputation for reliability. I protect my time on vital projects by making appointments with myself and those important to me.”

    11. “To earn the trust of others, I only make promises I can deliver. This is why I no longer accept a commitment until I write it down. Writing down everything I want to do helps me clearly see my dilemmas. It becomes very clear where I need to get help from others. That's how I overcome being overwhelmed.”

    12. Review our Calendar over the next few days to see what needs to be prepared.

      One person reports that “having a way to become better prepared for what's ahead allows me to enjoy my life more.”

      “Looking ahead gives me the option to take those little extra actions which creates treasured memories. I want to make the most out of those opportunities.”

    13. Do Related Activities Together.

      Grouping several tasks which could be worked on using the same tools or around a similar location. Sharing setup time is the most common strategy to minimize total time.

      “I arrange my files and papers in the order of a route around the whole plant. This lets me easily see whether I have missed stopping somewhere and what my next stop should be.”

      another page on this site More strategies to save time

    14. Prepare a Prioritized Task List to guide our day.

      “The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” —Stephen R. Covey

      “Re-writing a list of what I have to do each day may seem tedious and repetitive, but this step really helps me improve my skill at estimating. Knowing how much I can realistically handle in a day keeps me from over-committing myself.”

      “I can better recognize when I am wasting time if I force myself to identify the priority of each task I have to do. The really important things (such as planning and development time) are usually not urgent. Purposely evaluating the importance and urgency of everything forces me to invest my time on what will pay off most.”

    15. Roll with the punches.

      “Cie la vie” —French saying for "that is life"

      Scripture“Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.” 1 Corinthians 4:5 (NIV)

      "Life is not so short but that there is always time enough for courtesy." —Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Set screen Article: Getting Organized

    Excerpted from the Medical School Companion by Mary Ross-Dolen, M.D., Keith Berkowitz, and Ali Eyad.

    Time is always a precious commodity, but it is even more so during your years in medical school. There is a lot to be accomplished, but there are still only twenty-four hours in the day.

    If you are disorganized and don't learn to set priorities, stress will be the overriding factor in your entire medical school experience. If you set up workable systems for yourself early on, your anxiety level will decrease dramatically.

    Setting up a System

    The "to-do list" is a simple tool that can make a world of difference in a day in the life of a medical student. Some people keep a running list that they constantly update. Others prefer to make a new list every day. Either way, prepare your list each night before you go to bed. When you wake up, you'll be fresh and focused, and you'll know what needs to be done that day. Your list can include everything from the urgent to the mundane -- reminding yourself to do laundry or to send a birthday card to Mom can keep you from feeling buried in the minutiae.

    Every medical student faces the same dilemma: how to make the best and most productive use of time. If you constantly feel pressured, if you're always worrying about all that you have yet to accomplish, you won't be able to concentrate on the task at hand. That's why time management is an absolutely essential skill for a successful medical school career. Time management is based on organization, priority, and focus.

    • Organize your tasks so that they fall into a logical sequence. This frees up your time so that you're not always running around asking yourself, "What should I do next?" You have a plan for the day, the week, and/or the month. When you organize your tasks, you can stop berating yourself for not doing what you think you should be doing.

    • Prioritize your activities so that what must get done does get done. Some activities are more urgent than others. List your activities in terms of importance. That way, if some less important things don't get done, they can be shifted to another day without affecting your overall productivity.

    • Focus on the activity that is most important right now. After you've organized and prioritized, pay attention to the task at hand and give it 100 percent until you're ready to move on to the next activity. That includes recreation and relaxation; both your mind and body need time to rest and rejuvenate. If you haven't organized and prioritized, you'll always be wondering if there's something more important you should be doing.

    The most important rule in time management is this: Don't let anyone tell you there is only one way to manage your time. Devise a system that works for you, and keep it simple.

    Each of us has unique, individual priorities. Purchase a daily planner or notebook in which you can keep your schedule. Write down how you plan to spend each day, and be sure to incorporate every aspect of your school schedule, including classes, labs, and exams, as well as adequate time to study. Then allocate time for those individual activities you have promised yourself, including time for your significant other, spouse, and/or children, time to participate in sports or hobbies of interest to you, and time to socialize with friends. Unless you have written down a practical schedule, you will constantly be wondering where the time has gone and why you have not gotten to one thing on your to-do list.



    by Kate Berquist.  Get this print framed on your wall!
    Get this print framed for your wall!


    A resource I highly recommend! Reduce Anxiety.


    A resource I highly recommend! Prepare your list before you go to bed.


    A resource I highly recommend! Get done what must get done.


    A resource I highly recommend! Give it 100%


    A resource I highly recommend! Do the most important first.


    A resource I highly recommend!

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    Set screen Getting the most value out of your days

    From Gary Lockwood's Business Success newsletter:

    You may think you have as tight a rein on your time as you possibly can, but it doesn't hurt to step back occasionally and put yourself to the test. The following audit is designed to give you a quick reading on how well you're taking charge of your time on the job.

    Be honest with yourself -- the clock can't be fooled. Just put a check in front of the statements that apply to your way of working. Each represents one of the cardinal building blocks of effective time management -- the good habits that help you get results faster, better, and with less stress.


    ___ I start each day by identifying the single most important task I have to accomplish today, no matter what.

    ___ I realized some time ago that I can't do it all, so I've learned to trust my teammates to do things I used to think only I could handle.

    ___ I leave some unscheduled time in my daily plan for the unexpected.

    ___ I don't overload my to-do list to the point where I end most days feeling totally frustrated.


    ___ When I'm doing an unpleasant task, I often try to make myself envision something positive that will come of it.

    ___ I've learned to say no to people's requests when I know I can't honor them.

    ___ I assign a priority rating to each day's tasks and try to tackle them one by one.

    ___ I realize I can't be accessible to everybody at all times and make no apologies about it.

    ___ If the boss disrupts my schedule with unexpected assignments, I diplomatically ask which goal is most important.

    ___ I routinely ask myself what would happen if I didn't do something at all -- or handed it over to someone else.

    ___ I try to reward myself after completing a task that's difficult

    ___ I like to plan my phone calls ahead and make sure I've written down the two or three things I want to accomplish during the conversation.


    ___ When establishing deadlines, I enter at least two dates in my calendar: a warning date as well as a final "drop-dead" date.

    ___ I've eliminated several activities in the last few months because they weren't worth the time I was spending on them.

    ___ I like to keep a list of easy, mindless tasks that I can tackle during "dead moments," e.g., when I'm tired or waiting for someone.

    ___ At the end of the day, I plan my priorities for tomorrow and take one step toward accomplishing the most important one.


    Your time-management skills may be top-notch, but the real measure of accomplishment is whether your key activities are moving you toward the right goals. As management expert Peter Drucker put it: "It's not enough to do things right. You have to do the right things."


    This painting by Bosch was influenced by a poem by German satirical poet Sebastian Brant (1458-1521). Called the "Ship of Fools" (1494), is a bitter satire on how a ship loaded with fools sailing to a fool's paradise called Narragonia. The picture shows two nuns and a monk passing merry time while sailing in a company of peasants in a strange boat. The May tree mast symbolizes spring folk festivals, a time of moral license for folk and clergy alike) The banner has a Muslim crescent instead of Christian cross.

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    Set screen Rocks In a Jar

    One day an expert in time management was speaking to a group of business students and, to drive home a point, used a illustration those students will never forget.

    As he stood in front of the group of high powered overachievers he said, "Okay, time for a quiz." Then he pulled out a one-gallon, wide mouthed Mason jar and set it on the table in front of him. Then he produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar.

    When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, "Is this jar full?" Everyone in the class said, "Yes." Then he said, "Really?" He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the space between the big rocks.

    Then he asked the group once more, "Is the jar full?" By this time the class was on to him. "Probably not," one of them answered. "Good!" he replied. He reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in the jar and it went into all of the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel.

    Once more he asked the question, "Is this jar full?" "No!" the class shouted. Once again he said, "Good." Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim.

    Then he looked at the class and asked, "What is the point of this illustration?"

    One eager beaver raised his hand and said, "The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard you can always fit some more things in it!"

    "No," the speaker replied, "that's not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is: If you don't put the big rocks in first, you'll never get them in at all."

    What are the 'big rocks' in your life? Your children.... Your loved ones.... Your education.... Your dreams... A worthy cause.... Teaching or mentoring others.... Doing things that you love.... Time for yourself.... Your health.... Your significant other.

    Remember to put these BIG ROCKS in first or you'll never get them in at all.

    If you sweat the little stuff (the gravel, the sand) then you'll fill your life with little things you worry about that don't really matter, and you'll never have the real quality time you need to spend on the big,important stuff (the big rocks). So, tonight, or in the morning, when you are reflecting on this short story, ask yourself this question:

    What are the 'big rocks' in my life? Then, put those in your jar first.



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    Set screen Other Sources of Information (Links)


    Set screen Additional Reading

    "He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short." —Revelation 12:12 (NIV) Scripture

    Top Ten Things to Do When You Have 5 Minutes or Less .

    Monster Board articles for free agent independent consultants

    Priorities magazine has great articles. From Franklin Covey Corporation, makers of the “Time Quest” system.

    Using Microsoft Software to Apply the 7 Habits

  • Dayrunner planners

  • Time Management for Dummies by Jeffrey Meyer.
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey
  • Dynamic Time Management (DTM) Guide by Vadim Motorine

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