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Jun 29

Controlling Your Time

Posted by: Steve Marr

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Most of us would like to improve daily productivity. Today I would like to give you three tactics I use to get the most out of my time each day.

1.  Schedule hourly time incrementally.

When I schedule time I don’t just look at the hour blocks on my calendar, I break my time down into smaller increments. I look at an hour as ten six minute increments rather than one sixty minute hour. When I look at the full hour, I get sloppy by using the whole hour to accomplish something that should have taken six to twelve minutes. By assigning a task to part of the hour, it helps me use the hour more productively.


I learned this from attorneys who break down their billing into six minute increments to invoice.  I realized that if it worked for attorneys it might work for me. This also helps me to think carefully about how much time each task should take. It allows me to budget my time more effectively.

2. Make a list of priority tasks that can’t be scheduled.

I make a list all of the tasks that I don’t specifically schedule but that I want to accomplish.  For example, today I’ve got five follow-up phone calls, each of which should take a few minutes. I also have several scheduled telephone appointments allocated for one hour each. Since some may not take the full hour, I may have an extra ten minutes to do two or three follow-ups on my list. I also have a doctor’s appointment and I will probably sit in the waiting room for 15-20 minutes. Before I leave for the appointment, I put some things on my iPad that I can accomplish while I wait.

3. Make another list of unscheduled tasks to do as time allows.

In addition I have another list of unscheduled tasks I would like to get done as time allows. I plug these into my day when my schedule changes. For example, if I have a no-show for an appointment, I give the person about 15 minutes to respond before moving to something different. In the 15 minutes I am waiting for a no-show, I’ll work on tasks like responding to emails or other quick work that does not require my full focus.  If the person doesn’t arrive, I have an additional 45 minutes of to give toward something on my to-do list. Because I have already determined the day’s priorities, I don’t have to spend a lot of time deciding what to do next. I simply take the next item from the list and slide it into that 45 minute time.

Paul wrote we need to be, “making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:16, ESV) Employing these principles allows me to use my time more effectively each day. I have had a few people call me compulsive because of the way I schedule my time. However, these principles allow me to get more done. Since they make me more productive, I have more time for other activities.

If you are struggling to get through your work each day, consider adapting these principles. You will enjoy greater efficiency and more time for yourself.

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