How To Manage Time When Nothing Is Going Your Way

You’re already 5 minutes late when the tire bursts and you spill your coffee on your clothes.
What do you do? How do you manage time in a situation like this?
Simple answer — you don’t. You’re already too late in this case.
That’s what would usually happen to me. I would be late, some emergency or another ruining my day, my clothes, and my appointments.
It seemed like I attracted trouble everywhere I went.
You know that U2 song lyric… ‘like an accident waiting to happen, a piece of glass left there on the beach…’ I was that person.
I felt like a lost cause. But the funny part is that I’d tried everything.
I put my watch 15 minutes ahead.
Set alarms on three different watches.
Even had every appointment that I had to get to in my calendar, but still, something or the other would f*ck up.
(Pardon my French)
‘What changed?’
Well, one simple shift that I adopted in my calendar and my life completely changed everything for me.
It seemed like a floodlight turned on. Before I was searching around in the dark and now I could see.
I was always prepared for any problem that came my way. My car tires stop bursting, and my coffee stopped spilling.
But that’s not all. Opportunities seemed to rush to me. If there was a major project at work, I was the first person for it.
I was able to keep important things at the front of my mind when I needed them to be. And forget them when they were no longer needed.
I could easily avoid distractions at work and at home. Almost like. If I was at work, I was at work, and when I was home, I didn’t have to think about work.
Plus, this simple discovery showed me how to schedule my time and my calendar, so I don’t ignore it. Before it would sit in a corner completely ignored.
Life seemed to take on a rosy glow. I was able to do the things that I wanted to do. Be where I was going. Attract the kind of people I wanted.
Life was good.
(And If I were poetic, I would say the sunsets were brighter!!!)
All this happened because of one simple shift that I made on my calendar.
But before I tell you what that change is — let’s look at
How To Manage Time
Let’s first look at a mind shift about time.
You’ve heard this ‘mind shift’ before, but chances are you haven’t heard it this way… so keep reading.
Time is a limited resource, we all know that. If you don’t do anything with it — it will run out. For example — the hours and minutes that have passed today, can’t come back tomorrow.
But, tomorrow is still going to be another day. You will get another chance tomorrow.
But you can’t take action tomorrow. You can’t change yesterday either.
So when can you take action — NOW! Not even a minute ago. Only NOW.
‘Riz, I already know that…’
Here’s the best part about time — you’re already doing something in time. You’re sitting here reading this. Before you were reading this, you were doing something else.
Each minute of the day, you’re doing something — even if it’s sipping coffee and looking out the window.
You were doing that. So each minute of each day, you were doing something.
The Daily Activities We Don’t Account For
But the problem is you don’t account for all the time that you do sit and sip coffee.
I know I didn’t — and I drank a lot of coffee.
Here — do this quick experiment. Open your calendar and tell me if you have any of the following scheduled in it.
Doing your timesheet for the week. No?
How about email time? We spoke about this yesterday.
What about a weekly review? Nope?
How about team updates?
Chances are if you’re anything like I used to be — your calendar has two things — meetings/appointments and client work.
Nothing else is in it.
But there’s a ton of work that you do every day without thinking about it, or scheduling it.
Not the least of which is getting ready and driving to work.
(It does take time you know)
Let’s look at a few more things that are not on your calendar
— lunch (not a lunch meeting, but lunch by yourself)
— Daily review for tomorrow
— Sleep
— Hanging out with friends
— Superbowl Sunday (you know you’ll watch it. If only for the ads)
Hmm — didn’t think so.
I’m only scratching the surface here
See if you have the following
— Daily time with kids/spouse/family
— Loading/Unloading the dishes
— Meal preparation
— Decluttering your house
— Personal hygiene
— Personal phone calls
— Watching mindless TV (Okay not mindless TV, mindless YouTube)
— Reading (newspapers, magazines, adult romance fiction)
— Facebook / Snapchat / Instagram / Internet Browsing time
I hope you’re getting my point, but in case you missed it… here it is.
Why You’re Over Committed and Over Worked
Most of us do a lot more things in the day than we ‘think’ or account for.
Because we don’t consider them as ‘tasks’ to do, we over commit to the things we can do. Then feel bad when we can’t make all our commitments.
It’s not because we aren’t doing anything, but because we’re doing so many things which we’re not even thinking about.
So what happens, at the end of the day we’re pooped. We don’t know where our time went, and we’re stressed.
The to-do list keeps piling, and we can’t get anything done.
PLUS whenever we avoid our schedule and don’t take action on the things that we need to take a decision on. We’re already running behind, what’re another few tasks going to do.
‘Okay, Riz… I’m overworked, stressed, and overwhelmed — what do I do now?’
How To Manage Time Using This Mind Shift
Here’s the simple change to help you manage your time without pulling your hair out.
First — Figure Out Your Daily Actions
Take a piece of paper and draw three lines on it.
Each column represents 8 hours of your day. The last column is sleep. The first column is work. The middle column is the rest of your time.
Sleep Column
You can’t change the sleep column. Most people need at least eight hours of sleep. So fill it out with your pen.
Now you’re left with two columns.
For each of the other two columns, we’re going to do some quick brainstorming.
We’ll write out everything that we do — for each column in 5 minutes. Not a moment longer. Use a time.
Things Outside Work Column
In the second column, write out all the things that you do outside of work every day. Getting ready for work. Unwinding after work. Groceries. Cleaning. Driving time. Working out. Friends. Beer. Facebook. Everything.
Estimate the time that each of those tasks take. You don’t have to use a stopwatch, estimate it.
Then add 50% to each task. Chances are it takes you longer than you estimate. Do it. If anything you’ll have more time left after.
Work Column
If you work full time, write everything you do at work.
Include client calls. Monday morning meeting. Phone calls. Travel. Time sheets. Sales reports. Communication. Email. Discussion. Creative. YouTube. Facebook.
Everything. Estimate how long each task takes you. Then reduce this time by 25%.
For work hours, we overestimate the amount of time it takes us to get the job done. We can do most of it much quicker. Do it, if anything you’ll get more done in less time.
If you don’t work full time, write everything that you do during that period.
Read. Study. Take care of the family. Personal stuff. Facebook. Don’t be shy; you’re not showing this to anyone. But you do have to write this stuff down.
Same deal here, estimate the time that each of those tasks takes. You don’t have to use a stopwatch, estimate it.
Then reduce each task time by 50%. Chances you’re spending too much time on each task because of a lack of supervision. Do it. If anything you’ll have more time left after to do other things.
(Did you do it? It doesn’t work if you don’t do it.)
Second — Throw Out Your Current Calendar
‘Riz are you insane…?’
(Nope, but you will have to throw your old calendar out, anyway)
Here’s how you use the calendar.
Put in sleep in your calendar first. Yeap. Do it.
Then put in everything that was there on the outside work column. But you have to put those activities outside of your work and sleep hours.
Go ahead do that now. I’ll wait.
Did you see what happened there. If you did the honest exercise and put the outside work tasks in the calendar, you’ll notice there’s no time left.
You see what I was saying earlier. Don’t get too upset. There might be times when you have to do “double tasking.”
Double tasking is when you schedule two things together, for example, cooking food and watching the news.
Do that now. I’ll wait.
Stop rolling your eyes and do it already. It’s important.
You did that, right!
What you’ve got some time left over — you lucky thing.
Block that time off and schedule ‘Lazing’ in that time. I’ll tell you in a minute why we’re doing this. But let’s look at the final part.
The work hours.
Schedule everything in your calendar. At the end of this exercise. This is what your schedule should look like.
The benefit of doing this is simple. You’re spending that time doing something anyway. Now you’re writing it out. So each day, you will know where you spend your time.
At the end of the day, you can look at your calendar and see if you did that or you didn’t.
Plus it will also show you at the end of each week, the amount of time you’re spending on doing activities.
For example, I love watching movies and Toastmasters. So I go to two clubs each week in the evenings. I have to make a choice between whether I will watch a movie or go to Toastmasters.
For me — it’s always Toastmasters. I love meeting new people, so that’s a no-brainer.
But both of them are scheduled there. So if someone invites me to something new, I have to look at my calendar. I ask myself whether it is going to be more exciting than watching a new episode of ‘Stranger Things’.
(Season 2 isn’t out yet, so I will say yes)
Third — Print This Calendar
Actual printout. Not on your phone. Because your phone has a ton of other distractions. So it can’t be on the phone, and it can’t be on your computer.
It has to be a printout. That you can look at, write at, strikeout stuff and add stuff.
This also gives you a paper copy that’s sitting on your desk.
If you don’t work, scotch-tape it on a wall that you see most. So it’s front of your mind.
Fourth — Review Every Day
At the end of the day, look at the printout and check off everything that you did do in the day.
Don’t worry about doing everything. Your primary job for the next few weeks is to schedule everything. Then review at the end of the day.
Before you know it, you will have more time. You’ll get more done, and you’ll have better relationships.
Not because you’re doing more. But because you’re reviewing all the things that you are doing in the day.
This simple step — of adding everything that I did outside of work completely changed my life.
Instead of telling myself how I didn’t get enough work done, I was able to schedule work better. I knew all my commitments outside work and stopped over-committing.
By using this technique, you will be able to do the same. You will overcome your schedule.
Let’s take a quick look at the action steps that you need to take
Action steps
  1. Write down everything you do at work and outside work in separate columns
  2. Schedule everything from outside work on your calendar
  3. Schedule everything you do at work on your calendar
  4. Print the calendar
  5. Review every day for the next few weeks
Your Turn
Now it’s your turn. What’s challenge that you face with your calendar?
Leave a comment below letting me know what it is. I love to hear from you. So leave a comment below.