The Personal Side of Time Management

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”  –Plato, speaking through Socrates in The Apology

Am I the only one who finds it ironic that one of the world’s wealthiest nations is the most impoverished in personal time? The more prosperous we become, the more we work and the less time we have for personal matters, including rest. We already know we must conquer the clock at work and get as much accomplished as possible, but many of those same principles should also apply at home.

  • Get your goals in gear
  • Make moments for things that matter
  • Put your personal place in order
  • Curb your commitments
  • Hunt for harmony

Get your goals in gear

Just like at work, time management begins with goals, and just like at work, far too many times we’re reactive to the interruptions, opportunities, and problems as they arise. But unlike our careers, where expectations are hammered into our minds, we have the opportunity to decide which goals we should accommodate and which we should jettison.

  1. Clarify your goals. Describe each of your goals in a written statement. Goals can range from rest, relaxation, family time, and exercise to hobbies, volunteering, and personal development.
  2. Prioritize your goals. Arrange them into what’s most important to you.
  3. Get your goals in gear. Determine what steps you need to take to get going on your goals. Decide what the next step will be.

Make moments for things that matter

“There’s never enough time to do everything, but there’s always enough time to do the important things.” –Brian Tracy

Schedule those things that are important then jealously guard that schedule. If a family vacation is highly important to you, then later you find that a retirement reception for a co-worker is scheduled for the evening you and your loved ones plan to leave, send your regrets. Don’t allow unimportant things, especially URGENT unimportant things, to crowd out what’s important to you. Make your moments matter!

Avoid scheduling your personal life so tightly that you have no flexibility for unanticipated events or opportunities. Keep a log of what you do during your empty time slots so you can evaluate whether you’re filling them with things that really don’t matter and have room for more things that do matter.

Put your personal place in order

Material possessions take up time whether you realize it or not. Cleaning, maintaining, caretaking, and working to make the payments all stem from the possessions we put in our personal home. By reducing the amount of “stuff” we own, we can realize time savings since we don’t have to clean, maintain, or pay for it.

Every so often, go around your home with a cardboard box. Fill it with anything you haven’t used for quite some time and with things you don’t anticipate needing anytime soon, including clothing. Seal the box and label it with the contents and the date. Then put it into storage for one year. At the end of the year, if you haven’t needed or used any of the items in the box, get rid of it. Donate the unused items to charity or give them away to someone who will use them. Alternately, sell them in a yard sale or online.

Curb your commitments

Commitments also take up your time Whether commitments are made to family, friends, civic organizations, the kid’s school, or volunteering, they’re the social glue that binds families and communities together. But some of us agree to commitments far too readily and without thinking about the impact they’ll have on our time management. To evaluate a commitment, ask yourself:

  1. Will it produce real value for me and for others?
  2. Are the benefits I will receive in line with the value I’ll provide?
  3. Would ending this commitment cause harm to anyone?
  4. Will I gain any time by ending this commitment?

Some commitments, like some relationships, aren’t worth the time we put into them – they’re lopsided one way or the other and lopsided relationships indicate an unhealthy dependency.

Hunt for harmony

A good work/life balance is as personal as personal finance and it’s an issue that won’t go away. It isn’t a “feel good issue” or an executive perk. A good work/life balance is how companies can insure that employees are able to meet both their work and personal goals. Both are important and by meeting both, companies realize the benefits of happy workers and lower turnover.


Three things take up the majority of your personal time:

  • Things
  • Commitments
  • Relationships

By setting and prioritizing goals, making moments for things that matter, de-cluttering your life and home, reining in your commitments, and seeking a good work/life balance, you and I can insure that we make the most of our personal time and increase the richness of our relationships as well.