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Lifehacker: The Guide to Working Smarter, Faster, and Better, Third Edition by Gina Trapani, Adam Pash

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Hack 27: Map Your Time

Level Easy

Platform All (with a spreadsheet or calendaring program)

Cost Free

The busy person’s perennial question is, “Where did the day go?” It’s easy to get tossed from one thing to the next like a piece of driftwood caught in the tide of your crazy life. A thousand things compete for your time and attention and tug you here and there, but only you know how you actually want to spend your time. You can take control, mindfully structure your days, and deliberately choose the activities — and time limits — that reflect your values and goals.

As with most things, the best way to start keeping your ideal, balanced schedule is to write it down (whether that’s on paper or on your computer is up to you). A personal time map helps you align the activities that fill your day with your personal goals more closely.

Your Ideal Time Map

Author of Time Management from the Inside Out, Julie Morgenstern, compares the time you have in a day, week, or month to the space in the top of your closet: only a certain amount of stuff can fit in it.7 Before you start running from one appointment to the next, decide how you want to fill the limited space of your day with a time map. A time map is a simple chart of your waking hours that displays how much time per day you devote to different areas of your life.

For example (and simplicity’s sake), say that you decide you want to spend about one-third of your time on work, share one-third of your time with family, and save one-third ...

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