Life Lessons, planning

Use Your Time Wisely

Life Lesson #15: Manage your time or it will manage you.

Today’s lesson was inspired by Benjamin Franklin who said “Lost time is never found again.”


What Do You Think?

Do you know how to spend your time wisely? When you get overwhelmed with a lot of things to do (be it for school, work, or anything else), do you know how to decide what to do first? Do you understand the importance of prioritizing your to-do list so that you can accomplish what’s most important in the long run? If any of these are a problem for you, please consider this advice.



Something That Really Helped Me…

I’d like to recommend a book to you – it’s called “The Time Trap” by Pat Nickerson. This is a book I read nearly 20 years ago and it changed the way I manage my time in a big way. By using the techniques in this book, I was able to better understand how to decide the best way to tackle my daily to-do’s AND to ensure that I was not letting all the ‘little fires” that always seem to crop up every day sidetrack me from my long-term goals. Obviously I can’t share everything in the book with you in this little space, but I do want to share one tip that I constantly use when looking at my to do list.

Let’s say it’s Friday and you have the following items on your weekend to-do list:

  1. Clean your room by Sunday night
  2. Study for History Exam on Monday
  3. Go to baseball practice today at 5pm
  4. Watch the latest episode of Tosh.o
  5. Walk the dog today

How do you decide what to do and when? Do all of these tasks have to be done immediately? Are all of these tasks equal in terms of importance?

I like to use a technique from the book which assigns a number value to each task in terms of it’s long-term “Importance” (I) to your life — the most important is given a 1, the next most a 2, and so on. Then do the same in a separate column for the task’s “Urgency” (U) – most urgent is a 1, next most is a 2, and so on. Then you simply add up the numbers and take a look at the results. Let’s try it in our example:


Task I U Total
Clean 4 4 8
History Test 1 3 4
Baseball 2 1 3
Tosh.O 5 5 10
Dog 3 2 5


A couple notes on my scales. While the new episode of Tosh.0 might come out today, I assume you’ll have a DVR and thus can watch is anytime – therefore it’s not urgent, and compared with the other items on this list, not important either (although it IS funny!). Baseball practice today and walking the dog today must be done TODAY, therefore they are the most urgent tasks. The rest I assume you can figure out. So, using our totals, we can thus prioritize our tasks as follows:

  1. Go to baseball practice first.
  2. Come home and study a bit for your history exam.
  3. Walk the dog.
  4. After that, as the weekend unfolds you can study more for your history exam, then clean your room.
  5. And finally reward yourself by watching Tosh.

Obviously this is only a guide. If you don’t agree with the totals, you can adjust the order of the tasks as you see fit. But the point is that by using a technique like this you’ll be giving yourself some help when it comes to figuring out how to spend your time so you get the most out of it.

Think about it in reverse – what if you didn’t use a tool like this and instead just did the tasks as they were told to you? First off, you’d hopefully go to baseball practice at 4pm. But then you’d probably come back and watch Tosh, and likely forget to walk the dog until it’s too late. Then your mother would get on your case because you didn’t clean your room yet and you’d likely end up cramming for your history exam at the last minute. The result is that you’d end up doing your most important task last and probably not doing very good on that test. Not good.


Don’t Wait, Use this Wisdom Today…

What’s on our to-do list? Try using this little time management tool and see if it helps you. Let us know how it works – we’d love to hear from you.


Did You Know?

Today’s lesson was adapted from a book Jax and I wrote called Diary of a Minecraft Dad


A Bonus from Ben…

Here’s a page from Ben Franklin’s daily planner – check out how he planned his day!





2 thoughts on “Use Your Time Wisely”

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