Time Inventory How to Guide – 31 Days

You have spent the past couple of weeks dreaming, figuring out what is most important, and learning how to combat decision fatigue as well as make successful decisions.  Now, we need to figure out how to implement a lot of these ideas that you have.  The first step is to create a time inventory.

Have you ever looked at another mom and wondered, “how does she do it all?”  Well, deep down, we all know that she isn’t doing everything.  But, she is making specific choices on how she uses her time.  This doesn’t mean that she has everything together on all fronts, but instead, what you see, you like, and you want to know how she can accomplish that while you still have xyz to also accomplish.

In the age of social media, and instant everything, it is hard to look at the very best parts that people love to share, and not think you are doing something wrong. I try to share a very realistic view of what we do. But, I also spend a good amount of time talking about what I DO NOT do. The reason is because I do not do it all, and neither do you. You need to prioritize your time based on the people and activities that matter most to you. That is what the time inventory is going to help us see – where we are spending our time.

If you want more help as we continue our journey to a life we love, come join my membership community.

What is a Time Inventory?

First we should talk about what a time inventory actually is and what it is not. A time inventory is a very detailed list of everything that you do in one full, normal, week. It will be a realistic picture of where you spend your time.

What a time inventory is not. A time inventory is not an ideal schedule. I know that there are loads of people out there that encourage you to write out an ideal schedule, and then try to stick to it. There is definitely value in writing out an ideal schedule, but we need to work in realism. So, before we can move towards an ideal schedule, we need to understand where we are spending out time today.

You need to understand that everyone has the same 168 hours in their week, to do with as they choose.  Choose is the key word there.  You choose how you spend your time. Whether passively or actively, you are making a choices each day – remember those 35,000 decisions you make every day? You make choices every day on what to do with your time. Understanding what choices you actually make vs. what you think you are doing is an important part of the journey.

Why you need a Time Inventory

It is too easy to think you are spending your time one way, but really doing something completely different. When you look back on your day, do you really know the amount of time you are scrolling on social media? The number of interruptions you had throughout the day? How much time you spent on cleaning or making meals?

There are so many things vying for our attention in a day between homeschool, home, family, outside activities, etc. Trying to keep it all straight is a challenge. You know that you are going straight from morning to night, but you can’t quite remember where all the hours in the day went.

The reason you need a time inventory is to have a concrete piece of evidence on how you spend your time everyday. You will see exactly how long you are scrolling instagram or how long you sat staring at that load of laundry you wanted to fold, or how many times your toddler interrupted homeschool with your older children.

We are going to focus on the times that most of us deal with every day.  The normal, everyday lives that we lead.

You get to choose how you spend those 168 hours.  You may see someone on Instagram who has the most amazing, immaculate, beautifully decorated house, but she may not cook one meal for her family.  There will always be a trade-off. You cannot do all the things well. Instead you have to prioritize what is your most important thing, and start there.

Today you will get some homework.  The homework is to do a time inventory.  I have created one for you to print out.  You can start tomorrow morning

Weekly Time Inventory

What is the Purpose of a Time Inventory?

The purpose of a time inventory is simply to show you patterns throughout your week of where you spend your time.  This can be good things and bad things.  This will help give you a clear picture of how you spend your days.  However, it only works if you are truthful, and you do the time inventory correctly.

This post includes affiliate links. If you click on one of these links and make a subsequent purchase I may receive a commission. Read Disclosure.

When I first heard that there were 168 hours in a week, I had a two-year old and an infant, and I was drowning with life.  My husband had a second job, we were renting out part of our house.  I was completely overwhelmed, and didn’t know how to fix it.  I was paralyzed.  Busyness was the name of the game.  Why wasn’t I getting anything done?

I printed out that time inventory sheet and immediately filled it out – incorrectly.  I looked at all the days and put in when we were doing things during the week, and it was a mess.  Part of this was because we had an infant at the time, and anytime there is an infant, there is lack of sleep and stress and you are in survival mode.  But do you see what I did?  I was so smart, that I knew exactly where my time would go throughout the week.  I didn’t need to take a full week to write out everything I did, because I already knew, and so I filled out the time inventory with incorrect information.  Information I believed was right, but wasn’t really.

Sign up below for more information on my Creating Margin Workshop HERE!

How do you use a Time Inventory?

When you wake up in the morning you put “wake up” in whichever time slot you woke up.  If you take a 30-minute shower, you have to account for that, if you spend 45 minutes mindlessly scrolling through Facebook because your coffee hasn’t kicked in, you put that down. Perhaps you start folding laundry, but get interrupted several times with homeschool questions, or to break up a fight – write that all down.

You need to have an accurate assessment of how you spend your time in a week.  It can be really really hard to face that.  Especially if you are struggling right now.  You don’t want to see all the bad in your time inventory, you may be overwhelmed and want to see how hard you are working.  It is hard to face when we are not making the choices with our time that we think we are.

Have you done that?  I have.  Would you lie to yourself about how much time you spend doing things that were mind-numbing?  I was overwhelmed, and that meant that I wouldn’t be productive.  Have you been there?

I was letting my day happen to me, instead of telling my day how to happen.

This is the first step to making your home and homeschool the way you want it to be.  Understanding how you currently, and accurately, spend your time will allow you to make the changes you need to make in order to have your life be what you want it to be.

What do you do with the Time Inventory?

The purpose of the time inventory is to show you patterns. Once your time inventory is complete, you will see how you are actually spending your days. When you are honest about your time spent, and begin to see the areas of your days where you aren’t entirely efficient with your time, you are able to make adjustments.

You look for patterns.  Look at the time inventory and evaluate it.  Where are the times when you are super busy, or when do you feel like you are the busiest?  Is it because you are out of the house from 2pm on every day to get your kids to different sports and activities?  Is it because you spend multiple days out of the house running errands?  Were you like me, spending too much time mindlessly looking at social media?  Or paralyzed because you didn’t know what the next thing to do should be?

Evaluating Patterns

You may think that a time inventory is going to show you only bad things, but that isn’t entirely accurate.  It will also show the times that you are doing school with your kids, when you are reading stories with them, or watching a movie.  It will show family trips, and sports practices.  What your family loves and is committed to.  Perhaps all of the things your family loves are making it hard to do any of them well, since you are trying to be involved in all of them at one time.  Is there a way to break that up into different seasons?

But, you will see the patterns.  Is your family out late a couple times during the week?  Does that have a major impact on your morning the following day?  Are you not able to have family meals because you are going going going most evenings?

These may be seasons.  They could also be things that need to be adjusted and prayed about.  If it is causing more stress during the rest of your day, eliminate it.

Once you see the patterns of how your days go, you will be able to adjust your rhythms and routines.  Do you need to get up a little earlier?  Go to bed a little earlier?  Maybe you need to have one afternoon for all errands instead of going out several times during the week.  Are you wasting time on social media, or TV?  That doesn’t mean you should give up TV or social media (though perhaps you want to).  It does mean that you stop constantly, picking up your phone.  Instead you can decide to only pick it up at a specific time during the day to check e-mail or social media.  Or maybe you don’t binge an entire season of Homeland after your kids go to bed, making it difficult to get up the next morning.

The Bottom Line

Don’t lie to yourself. Don’t fill out the time inventory by what you feel like you were doing during a certain period of time.  Be real.  It won’t help you if you say “oh, well I was so busy yesterday cleaning and homeschooling, that was all I did between 8am and 5pm.”  Most likely that is not true.  If it is, great, write it down while you are in the process of doing it.  Make a note on your phone if you are out of the house and can’t easily add in what you are doing.  Or better yet, put the inventory sheets on a clipboard and take it with you!

Remember, every moment doesn’t have to be productive.  There is plenty of time for leisure.  You will see that when you write out your time inventory and look back on all you accomplished the previous week.

Is there something that is a time-suck in your life?  Do you know what you are going to see when you look back at your time inventory for the week?

Time Inventory How to Guide

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *