Five Tips to Managing Your Unstructured Time

Time Management

What prevents you from doing what you really want to do? Oftentimes, we think the answer is not enough time. And yes, with work and/or school keeping us busy for most of the day, it often seems like we don’t have time for what we really want to do, be it:

  • hobbies
  • exercise
  • hanging out with family and friends
  • simply doing nothing

And these “fun activities” are so important to live a balanced life; in fact, without enough “free time” it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, unhappy, and even become ill.

So how do you “get” more time for fun activities you ask? It’s not like you can buy more time… A lot of it has to do with time management. Managing your time wisely can be difficult, whether it’s work or school. When it comes to your free time, it’s even harder. How often do you have very little planned for a weekend and think that you can get a few things accomplished only to realize on Sunday night that practically nothing got done? It has happened to me more than once…

I believe this often happens when you don’t plan and strategize how to make the most of your time. Here are some tips to make sure you can fit more “fun activities” into your day so that you can achieve a better life, work, and/or school balance:

  • Plan weekly meals and write a grocery list – this can cut your time preparing meals and your time in the store way down
  • Plan your weekly grocery trip for a time and day when the grocery store is not very crowded – you may have to experiment a bit, but this can save you lots of time
  • Have a designated laundry and cleaning day and time – multi-task as much as possible (clean while doing laundry, etc.)
  • Schedule time with friends and family – do this for online as well in-person meetings
  • Schedule exercise – allow enough time to get to and from your exercise location, shower, etc.

Now, the above schedule may seem overwhelming to you. You may say, “I’m already all ‘scheduled-out’ at work and/or school. I don’t need to make my schedule more complicated.” The point of scheduling your free time is actually to make time for true “free time,” time that’s truly all yours. So if you aren’t already scheduling your “free time,” give it a try. You may be surprised with how much extra time you might end up. You may not know what to do with yourself…

Questions: Do you schedule grocery trips, exercise, and household chores? Why or why not? Does what you are currently doing work for you? Where do you schedule your time (day planner, online calender, etc.)? Is your current scheduling system working for you?

Be well,



3 comments for “Five Tips to Managing Your Unstructured Time

  1. Heather
    June 16, 2011 at 1:52 am

    My biggest problem throughout the day isn’t so much on finding time to do things, but it is finding the motivation to get stuff done. Sometimes i know i have projects and responsibilities to do but pushing myself to want to do them is a pain for me. After reading your tips i might just have to try them out. That way i efficiently get everything done on time and when i look back and read my schedule, it will encourage me to do it all.

  2. March 31, 2010 at 10:36 am

    I have found doubling up on my scheduling works well. I always talk on the phone to my sister or friends while I am folding laundry. I go on walks for exercise but take the kids with me and stop at the park – playgrounds have some great gym equipment for getting in some exercises. Every once in a while I evaluate what is sucking up my time that is not very productive and come up with a remedy. I typed up a grocery checklist in order of the aisle route I take at the grocery store. This way I always remember the usual needs and can pencil in new additions to the right aisle – saving me trips back around the store when I am there. I keep everyones schedule on my giant calendar on my fridge – seems to work for me.

    • Andrea
      March 31, 2010 at 1:54 pm

      Great response, Miranda! I love the grocery aisle route trick; I do the same, and it saves lots of time! 🙂 I have to say that I’ve improved my time management/efficiency skills a lot as I’ve gotten older. I wish I’d been that efficient when I was in college and just starting out…

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