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Home > Management Tutorials > The 24-hour schedule
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The 24-hour schedule
The 24-hour schedule
(Part - 2 of Time Management - Ken Shah & Prof. Param J. Shah)
[Part- 2 The 24 hour Schedule Part - 3 Managing Leisure Time Part - 4 Time use schedule Part 5 Assessing your ability Part 6 - Sharing Your Time Management Skills ]
Divide your time into the categories below and note on the schedule in Exercise # 10 the actual time spent at each category. When you finish, you will find that there is a certain amount of time that never varies : for sleeping, doing regular household chores, and so on. You won’t be changing this time very much, but rather will analyze the variable times described below.

a. Shared time This is the time you set aside for being with others who mean a lot to you : wife, husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, children, and so on. After entering these times on the schedule, circle them with a red pencil and total the number of hours you spend this way.

b. Private time This is the time you set aside to do your own thing : working out at the gym, having a special night out with friends, reading, etc. Circle these times with a green pencil and add up the number of hours spent.

c. Work time This is the time you spend working at all aspects of your job, whether the job is outside the home or housework. Circle this time with a blue pencil and add up the number of hours.

d. Project time This is the time you spend on projects such as home improvements, crafts, evening classes, sports, and so on. Circle these times in black and total the number of hours spent this way.

Some of the most common ones follow. Do you recognize yourself ?

  1. “I don’t know how to do this.”
  2. “In general, I like to put everything off until tomorrow.”
  3. “I’m too tired.”
  4. “I procrastinate mainly by doing various household jobs that need doing sometime, but not right now.”
  5. “Tomorrow I’ll start and when tomorrow comes, it’s again…well, tomorrow is soon enough.”
  6. “I make a list containing too many things to get done in the allotted time and just don’t get to those I dislike or am having trouble getting started at.”
  7. “I don’t have time to do this.”
  8. “I always look at the time and feel that there certainly is more time than I need for a project so I can do something else first.”
  9. “I’m too busy with day-to-day work to get any projects done later.”
  10. “I tell myself I need food or sleep to be able to do something. Then I tell myself I can’t work on a full stomach.”
  11. “I usually need a break, even when I haven’t worked on anything.”
  12. “I can’t work in a cluttered atmosphere, so I clean up instead of doing what I should be doing.”
  13. “Baseball and hockey games are only on television two seasons, so I can’t miss them.”

These are just some of the comments people make to rationalize not doing what they had planned. Perhaps you have made these statements yourself. Look at your excuses and determine if you are merely procrastinating. Discover what is stopping you from completing a task and then try to overcome that. For example, you may be delaying because you lack certain information; obtain it so you need not wait any longer. You may be procrastinating because you can’t make up your mind about something; consider all your alternatives and make your decision. You may be hesitating because you don’t know how to take a calculated risk; determine what your potential gains and losses might be and take the plunge.

Look at the procrastination survey in Exercise #13. Think back to the last time you postponed doing something and decide whether you really had to wait. Write down the excuse you used then. Consider other times you delayed starting a project and jot down your rationalizations for hesitating. Look over these comments, and see how many were justified. Were you procrastinating ?



If you have hesitated – procrastinated – for some very good reason, then perhaps you need to examine your time schedule or your goals. Perhaps you have set overly ambitious goals for yourself. May be you took on too big a project all at once without breaking it down into its component parts or planned your day with too many activities. You need to be realistic in scheduling your activities; allow for flexibility and unexpected changes in plans.

  1. Set specific goals
    A general goal is hard to meet. Be specific, and you’ll accomplish your task. You’ll also find it easier to begin and be less inclined to delay.
  2. Talk it out
    Talk to someone about what you wish to do. By telling a friend and discussing ways to go about it, you will gain a clearer picture of your goal. You will also find that once you have heard yourself, you’ll recognize your rationalizations and will gain insight into organizing your task.
  3. Get more information
    Read about what you want to do if this is the first time you have attempted it. If you are building a fence, buy a book on the subject so you know how to order equipment, mark the lines, and set in the materials. Or ask others who have done similar things – get the advice of your neighbors. But guard against the tendency to spend so much time gathering information that you procrastinate actually doing the job. Determine at what point you have enough information and get started.
  4. Make instant tasks
    Coax yourself into doing something. Use a small, time-limited activity to get you going. For example, if you have to write a report for a local service group, put down the first sentence, even if it isn’t completely the way you want it. That first step breaks the ice; it is easier to go from that point on.
  5. Start with the pleasant parts first
    The important thing is to get started. If you have trouble doing that, take the task apart and select one aspect that is more pleasant than some of the others. Doing something will inspire you to continue with the remainder.
  6. Do it with someone else
    Some jobs are simply more enjoyable if you do them with a friend. For example, it may be faster and more fun if you and a friend get together to paint your house. Many quilts would never have been made if it weren’t for quilting bees, for example. Or have a friend sand that antique rocking chair so that you can paint it.
  7. Set time-limited goals
    Parkinson’s Law states that work expands to fill the time available for its completion. If you have six hours to complete a task, you will stretch out the work to take all those hours, even though under other circumstances you might have needed only four hours. The efficient person tries to limit the amount of time allocated for each task. By setting a finishing time, you help your efficiency in two ways : the set time period will limit the amount of time you can procrastinate, and the limited period will force you to work more efficiently during that time.

    Let’s consider an example. Most recently, my goal was to write this book. When I was to start, I found myself spending a great deal of time procrastinating. I wasn’t sure I could do it, I didn’t know if I knew enough, there was a lot of material on time management, and I didn’t know if I had anything new or different to say. Then I would spend hours in the library reading about time management or working on other projects that I had going or thought I was interested in. By the afternoon, I was too tired to write. However, I worried about not writing 24 hours a day, and I rarely got anything else done either. I set up a program for myself where I allocated three hours each morning to working on the book, and all my activity during that time had to relate to the project. Then, finally, I began to write the book.

    Parkinson’s Law particularly applies to housework. Shirley Conran, in her book Superwoman in Action, notes that “[housework] expands to fill the time available plus half an hour : so it is obviously never finished. The important thing is not to do the housework but to decide how much time you are going to allow for [it]. What doesn’t get done in time is left undone (perhaps for next time, perhaps forever).”

    Don’t get caught up in the maze of obligatory chores such as housework. If you strive for perfection and try to complete a task that is basically open-ended anyway, the amount of time you spend doing it will only increase, and you won’t be using your time efficiently.
  8. Give yourself choices
    Take two activities that you equally don’t want to do, and give yourself the choice of doing one or the other. For example, Joe didn’t feel like putting the snow tires on the car; it was already cold and seemed like a miserable job. He also didn’t want to clean out the garage, but he made a deal with himself that one particular Saturday he had to do one or the other. Having the choice between the two things gave Joe at least a sense of freedom. You can make your choice, too, and your chores will seem less onerous.
  9. Make your jobs seem fun
    Write down the chores on little pieces of paper that you and your spouse have to do, and put them into a jar. Each Saturday have a draw to see who gets what chores to do. The element of chance makes it fun and again takes away some of the burden. By making your tasks more fun, you’ll avoid procrastinating. And by sharing the chores, you’ll get them done faster and with less hassle.
  10. Use a list
    Many busy executives keep a “to do” list at work because they find it the best way to get things done. Your Time Scheduling Sheet is one type of list, but you may find it useful to keep shorter, day-to-day lists of things to do. You’ll find you will get to doing the items on your list sooner and they will take less time to do, since you’ll be doing them more efficiently.
  11. Reward yourself
    For years industry has used incentives to help increase employee productivity. Psychologists have also known for a long time that if a person wants to increase the frequency of a particular behavior it is best to reward that behavior. You can use the same principles to make yourself do what you want to do.

    There are two main reward systems that you can use : a daily reward – that is, some reward for each time you perform the desired behavior, or put in the desired amount of time – and a final reward for after you have completed your project. For example, Keith wanted to get into better physical shape. His daily reward for exercising was a sauna after he worked out at the gym. If he kept to his program and exercised three times a week for a month, he could have the new gym outfit he wanted. He found that monitoring his behavior – that is, keeping track of the number of times he exercised and looking at the accumulated tallies and thinking of the reward of the new gym outfit – helped him stick to his program. By the end of the month, exercising had become part of Keith’s routine. The reward of feeling physically good was enough to maintain that routine, but his program helped him to make the start and overcome his inertia.

    For your program, think of rewards that you can use to help yourself get started. Set up both daily and final rewards. It is also important to note that the value of a particular reward may change in the course of time. Take these factors into account, and come up with a new reward when necessary.

    Although this method may sound simplistic, it works – and works well. Try it the next time you have a goal. Keith’s reward sheet is shown as an example in Sample # 1. (A blank reward sheet is provided in the Appendix for your use.)
  12. Punish yourself
    Under the right circumstances, self-punishment can be very effective in overcoming inertia. With this method, you take something away or forfeit a pleasure if you fail to perform a task you had planned on doing.

    Peter was a staunch supporter of a major political party, and he strongly disliked the leader of the opponent party.

    Exercising Daily Final
    Sauna Gym outfit

    Peter also had a very important project to complete – his final paper for his university degree. He asked a friend to act as his banker, and then he made out a series of post-dated checks for the “enemy” party’s election campaign. His agreement with his banker friend was that for each week Peter did not meet his quota of work on his paper, the friend would mail out a check to the “enemy” party’s headquarters.

    The first week Peter did not work on his project and he looked on in agony as the check was mailed. The second week he did some work but still fell short of his quota. Even though he promised to make up the work, the check was mailed; there was no provision for make-up (only legitimate sickness), as stipulated in the agreement. The third week Peter fulfilled his quota. The same was true for the fourth and fifth weeks. By now working on his project had become his natural activity, and getting the paper finished had become its own reward. The agreement was terminated.

    If you opt for this type of arrangement, remember that self-punishment only works as a deterrent; the trick is to make the penalty so harsh that it is seldom applied. And if you find that your self-punishment program is not working, consider modifying your plan because your quotas may be unrealistic.
  13. Make a written contract

    In the previous example, Peter had to make an agreement with a friend. A similar plan is to have a written contract with yourself. The written contract serves as a reminder, especially if you keep it in a strategic place. If you want to lose weight, for example, place your contract on the refrigerator door. If you want to cut down on the amount of television you watch, place it near the TV. Sample # 2 illustrates this kind of contract. (A blank contract is provided in the Appendix for your use).
  14. Chart your progress
    For some projects, you’ll have a hard time sticking through to the end unless you have some feedback or see some progress along the way. If the project does not provide such signals, then you need to establish them yourself. Keep track of the time you spend by making it down on a chart. Over time, your chart will give you a visual summary of your progress and a boost to your sense of accomplishment.
  15. Go public
    If you want to really increase your chances of success, make your project known to others. The encouragement you’ll receive from friends and the social pressure you’ll feel to continue will be great motivator. Post your chart where friends and family members can watch your improvement.
I David Peters, do solemnly swear on this 10th day of June, 2005 -, to spend one hour(s) / day(s), constructing my garden shed, from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., four out of seven day(s) / week (s) per week / month for the next three week(s) / month(s).

Signed : David Peters  

Witnessed : Sam Trimo

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