How to take back control of your time by Stephen Walker of Motivation Matters


Time is the only non-renewable resource. You can stretch it, hire somebody else’s time and make your use of time as effective as possible. But your time is definitely limited.

You need to manage your time – “waste not want not should be your watchword”. You need to manage your time so you have time for your family and friends, time for you and time to earn a living.

You can better manage your time and increase the time you have available for the things you value and so expand your life.

This blog will give you some pointers to the management of your time.

Where does the time go?

How we use our time changes as we grow and move through life’s stages. One of the key issues of poverty is the demands it places on your time. If you have to walk two hours a day to fetch water then that is a significant loss to your productive capacity.

The pie chart shows data from the USA: an advanced wealthy society that provides just about everybody with drinking water. The data is for adults young and old, working and retired and averaged over seven days a week.

The top three time demands are:

Sleeping, washing 9.5 hours a day

Leisure and sport 5.2 hours a day

Working 3.5 hours a day

These are life time average figures in effect. Also they include the retired person who doesn’t work and the executive who works 70 hours a week.

How much time do you have left?

Each year contains 8760 hours. If we spend 9.5 hours a day asleep and washing that leaves 5292 hours awake.

Take away the time spent mowing the lawn, shopping, eating and checking emails and you have 3325 hours left or just over 9 hours a day albeit including weekends.

If you plan to finish a piece of work in two hours and it takes three, you have just lost 11% of your day! This blog is a prime example!

How much time do you waste?

In a social, leisure environment taking your time may be part of the pleasure. The pleasure of turning over for twenty minutes more sleep on Sunday morning is something you don’t appreciate until you have children!

My experience in a working environment though is that 20% to 25% of time is wasted.

So what if I waste my time at work?

Missing deadlines, falling performance and slipping behind the programme not only make you look bad in the eyes of your Boss but they add to your stress. While it is true that a little stress improves performance, too much stress severely detracts from your ability to work, sleep and socialise.

You need to develop the personal power to cruise along like a Rolls Royce in comfort instead of screaming through life like a Formula One McLaren racing car.

If you have that power in reserve then you can use it to work more when the world demands it.

Stress isn’t so bad surely?

Putting health issues to one side, stress does interfere with your thought processes. A lot of research has been done on decision making under stress to provide a better environment to make good choices.

This is the stuff of cinema. James Bond wondering which wire to snap on the bomb in Fort Knox as the timer counts down to 007 (naturally!).

Research into the effects of stress, shows decisions made under those conditions are sub-optimal.

Stress can be ameliorated with exercise, to the benefit of your mental and physical health. Constant high stress induces some serious medical conditions from headaches to ulcers.

There are meditative techniques that allow people to drop into very relaxed states very quickly. Unfortunately the modern workplace is not conducive to people taking a meditation break.

Perhaps the Mediterranean lifestyle with a lunchtime siesta has a lot of advantages for your health.

Sadly people, who are under stress because of poor time management, do not have time to exercise!

What would I do with all this extra time?

You should invest time in relationships.

Invest time in yourself, in personal growth, in developing your knowledge skill and abilities.

Spend more time with your family and loved ones. Enjoy their company. Make sure your child remembers the times you spent playing together and your relatives know they are important to you.

Finally use some of that time to get to know your work colleagues, your direct reports and your bosses. You will be surprised how much an investment of a minute or two pays back in productive capacity.


Please remember most religions agree this is not a practice run! You get one life and time is not renewable.

You are born with your 657,000 hours and that sounds a lot. When you have finished with education you have 482,000 hours remaining on average. Take out sleep and the necessities of living and you have 190,000 working hours.

190,000 hours from the age of 20 to work. Make the most of every minute in work, rest and play.

It is good advice to live like you are going to live forever. It is also good advice to make the most of your time by learning how to manage yourself.

You can download some tips on time management.

Download details of my time management workshops “How to take back control of your time


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