You’re a multi-talented person. You can weld, bellydance, quilt and author computer code. Or at least you *could* do all those things, if only there were more hours in the day and days in the week. How the heck did it get to be Thursday already? Never mind that, it’s June for heaven’s sake! Life is screeching by faster and faster…and less and less is getting done. A fundamental first step to being a happier DaVinci is to find time to actually do what you love. First, review basic time management strategies. Then consider these proven time management techniques to analyze your time use and devise how to spend your time productively.

Now, if you're someone who can quickly and honestly identify "on what am I spending far too many hours?" and "on what am I spending far too little time?"...and then instantly swap those activities, please do. Instead of reading this article, simply ask yourself these two questions, resolve to change and proceed accordingly. (Why are you still reading? You know what to do -- get on with your life).

If , however, you need to approach this more methodically -- if you're not really sure where your day is going or what the costs of that really are -- let alone how to change how you're operating -- here's a step by step guide to improve your time management: analyze your time use, find more hours in the day and spend them doing things you love.

1. Monitor your current time use for at least one week.

Time management begins with data collection. This week, keep track of how you’re spending every 15 minutes of your day. You can make a chart, jot down a list, or record things on your electronic organizer or laptop – whatever is easiest and most natural for you.

Every 15 minutes? Yup. It’s worth it. If you can do this reasonably consistently for just one week, you will gain insights that will improve your life significantly.

You don’t need to stop what you’re doing every 15 minutes to record your activities -- you can check in every couple of hours, for example, and fill in what you’ve done during the intervening periods.

Avoid stressing out or beating yourself up if you’re not keeping perfect track of your day – just do the best you can reasonably do.

2. Examine your time use.

After you’ve collected at least a week’s worth of data, tally up how you’ve been spending your time. This will be highly individualized, depending on what you do and what’s important to you.

(a) Compile a list of general activities relevant to your life – things like “work”, “play”, “sleep”, “family time”, “social time”, “leisure”, “health/fitness”, “domestic chores”, “meals”, “hygiene”, “creative expression”, “spiritual practices”, “community service/volunteer work”, etc. Now add up the hours you spent this week participating in each relevant category.

If something falls in several categories – do what makes sense to you. For example, if “walking the dog” is both “health/fitness” and “family time” in your estimation, you can count it in both categories. If walking Fido strikes you more as “domestic chores”, count it in that category.

If you’re a visual or mathematical person, you might want to make a chart or graph to depict your time use. Then you can really see the relative amounts of time you’re spending doing what.

3. Analyze your overall pattern of time use.

Any surprises? What’s working well? What’s not? What adjustments need to be made? How can you improve your time management?

4. Dig deeper, as needed.

Within each category, you have the option of looking at how many hours you’re spending doing what. For example, dissect your “health/fitness” time use to count how many minutes you spent stretching, doing strength training, running on the beach, taking yoga classes, driving to the gym or walking the dogs.

You don’t need to do this for every category but it’s often helpful to dig deeper if you discover you’re spending a heckuva lot more time in a particular activity than you realized. If, to your surprise, you’ve found that “domestic chores” is eating up nineteen hours a week, you may wish to look at exactly what that entails.

5. Examine your talent use.

Because we are committed to helping your flex your many talents, we encourage you to do an additional dissection of your week's data. This time, list your talents (e.g. welding, bellydancing, quilting, computer programming) and add up the hours you spent using each of them. Again, there may be some overlap in instances that use several talents at the same time (e.g. singing, songwriting and playing music often occur simultaneously).

Again, feel free to depict your data visually in a chart or graph.

Make note of any talents that didn’t get used at all during your data-collection week.

6. Look at your overall pattern of talent use.

What’s working well? What’s not? What adjustments need to be made?

7. Dig deeper

If you particular creative projects or practices are important to you, go back through your week's data and tally up how many hours you’re actually spending on each.

8. Ask yourself: how do you REALLY want to be spending your time?

What’s most important to you? What specific talents do you want to use more? For what particular creative projects or practices do you want more hours?

9. Problem-solve. Look for ways to free up time for your talents as well as for your creative projects and practices.

What of your current activities could be eliminated? What are you doing that you simply do not need to do?

Which activities could be delegated to someone else? For example, could some of your domestic chores be assigned to other household members – or could you pay someone to do it?

Which activities could be reduced? Could you watch less television, for example, or spend fewer hours surfing the ‘net?

What activities could be streamlined? If you’re checking your email fourteen times a day, you’re not being very efficient. Could you restrict yourself to checking your inbox two (set) times a day?

Which activities could be combined? Could you combine family activities with fitness activities like hiking or biking?

Aim to find at least an hour a day for your talents and for your creative pursuits.

1o. Do a reality check.

Sure you could vow to never watch TV again…but is that realistic for you? If so, then dump the boob tube and replace TV time with Talent Time. If not, then aim to reduce your TV watching by, say, an hour a day, and then spend those sixty precious minutes flexing your talents.

11. Monitor your progress over the next while.

Once you have your improved time management plan in place, keep track of how much time you spend using your talents. Aim for consistent, steady progress towards your preferred schedule.

You’ll find that every hour you reclaim for your talents and creative pursuits are extremely rewarding. You’ll feel happier, more productive, more fulfilled and more effective.

12. Schedule a time one year from now, to review your time use.

What's working well? What's not? What adjustments are needed?


Activity: This week, monitor your time use (as described in step #1). Schedule one hour, seven days from now, to analyze your data (as described in steps # 2 - 10 above).


(c) Liisa Kyle, Ph.D.


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Are you struggling with too many talents, skills, ideas? You may have The Da Vinci Dilemma™! Find tools, fun quizzes, coaching, inspiration and solutions for multi-talented people at

Author's Bio: 

Liisa Kyle, Ph.D. is the go-to coach for smart, creative people who want to overcome challenges, get organized, get things done and get more out of life (

Liisa Kyle is also an internationally published writer/editor/photographer as well as author of books including "YOU CAN GET IT DONE: Choose What to Do, Plan, Start, Stay on Track, Overcome Obstacles, and Finish" ( If you are a creative person with too many ideas and too much to do, check out her other helpful articles here: