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Map Your Time and Make Your Life Work

Jul 9, 2008
For women starting a small business -- especially women who have a zillion other things to do like tend to children and home and partner -- how you map your time is going to mean the difference between sanity and serenity or guilt and go nuts.

I feel like a phony as I write this. After all, I am no one to talk about time mapping or management as I still am in "respond to crises as they come" mode.

However, I have recently been introduced to Julie Morgenstern's Time Management from the Inside Out, second edition: The Foolproof System for Taking Control of Your Schedule--and Your Life. What I've gotten from this book is a new system and approach to time.

First of all, time is not to be "managed" nor "saved" nor even "spent." Time just is. And it is our experience of it that creates problems! So I have adopted Julie's time mapping concept and now have a general map of the day/week on the wall behind my desk. At any given time I can look up at the current time slot to see what kinds of activities I said I should be doing at this time. If it's 7:45 a.m., for example, I'm going to be having family time with my 3-1/2 year old son, my 9-month old and my husband.

At around 9:30 a.m. my work hours begin. I will work consistently until it is again family time around 12:30. My son and I will enjoy lunch together and perhaps read a book and snuggle in for an afternoon nap.

Mind you, I cannot always abide by the map I've created for myself. It is evolving, a work-in-progress. But what I see as possible with this new approach to my business/personal life, is that while I'm with my children, I'm not feeling resentful or anxious that I haven't gotten to my work. And while I'm doing my work, I'm not feeling guilty or frustrated that I can't spend time with my children.

This alone is the first major breakthrough I'm experiencing because I had gotten to a point where my day was pretty much joyless because of all the angst. Now I know there is a time allotted for each activity and I can take a stand for each.

I can also see clearly where I have given minimal amount of time for myself -- allowing myself some leisure, reading a book, taking a nap, watching Dr. Phil or getting a pedicure. Whatever it is. While I've built a sliver of self time into my week, I can now see -- visually -- where there could be more.

FYI, I used a simple Excel spreadsheet to create this map. I used color formatting for the different cells to code the activities.

This week I'm also having a breakthrough in fun and leisure. I'm taking off one day to take my son to Sesame Place. I have -- unbelievably -- absolutely no guilt or anxiety over the fact that I won't be getting any work done that day. Pretty unbelievable. I give credit to my time map as I can see where there is plenty of work time scheduled in this week and I will get to it.

I'm also thinking in terms of "dancing close to the revenue line," another concept Morgenstern discusses in her book Never Check E-Mail In the Morning: And Other Unexpected Strategies for Making Your Work Life Work. Many successful entrepreneurs talk about this idea of putting your money-making activities first.

We are all so prone to getting into our email and the daily minutiae and wrapping up of loose ends, the real "meat" of our business often gets squeezed into the next time slot, and the next and the next.

Julie talks about doing the top revenue-boosting thing before 10 a.m. in the morning. That way, if your whole day goes to pot, you will be sustained by that productive and effective spurt you had first thing in the morning.

And after all, the reason we're in business for ourselves is to enjoy our lives and experience freedom on a daily basis. Now then, I'm off to enjoy my life!
About the Author
After multiple layoffs Kennerly launched her first business in 2001, determined to decide for herself when she would go to work each day, how much vacation she would get and how much money she would make. She now helps others recognize the entrepreneur within and launch their own home businesses. Read her personal advice and tips here .
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