LearnKeeping Your Time in Check

Josh Long
writes on May 24, 2013

Time is our most valuable resource. We’re losing it all of the time and they’re not making any more of it. It’s sobering to think every moment that passes, is a moment we’ll never get again.

I have to remind myself that life is short. Anything that isn’t a life experience, time with friends or family, or time spent going for our dreams, should be called into question.

That being said, the little sneaky time-suckers like tweets, texts, emails, notifications, and meetings, always have a way of finding their way back into our routines.

Every few weeks I have to re-assess my time and hit the productivity reset button. Here are a few strategies I use. I hope they can help you in some way.

Identify the Critical 3

It is important to spend the time we do have, accomplishing something of note. It has been my experience that people can rarely do more than three major projects at a time and do them well.

I always stop and make sure that I’m clear on the top three projects or goals that I want to accomplish. This is important because I find that time typically fits into one of three categories:

  • core time
  • support time
  • waste of time

“Core time” means you’re in the zone and you’re actively working, focused on a core task for great work. “Support time” is the necessary emails, tweets, texts, calls and meetings to do your work. “Waste of time” is the unnecessary emails, tweets, texts, calls, articles, Youtube videos and meetings.

In order to have the most “core time” possible, you have to first identify what that time is and what goals that time needs to accomplish. Decide on your three best projects now and set them as the backbone of your productivity.

Know When You Are Your Best

I tend to be my “sharpest” in the early part of the day. This is the time when I need to be writing, coding, and designing (my critical 3). We’re only capable of a few hours of maximum productivity each day and I like to spend that precious time doing the things that are most important to long-term goals.

With carefully planned recovery and downtime throughout the day, I’m still able to be focused and productive, but just not at the levels I am in the morning. The afternoon is good for learning, building relationships, tackling emails and sharing on Twitter.

Knowing when I perform best has been a huge factor for my career. It’s hard to keep the discipline to keep that time sacred, but it’s entirely necessary. Know yourself and identify when you are at your best. I promise it will help you set your best possible routine.

Don’t Be So Accessible

We tend to really care about what people think, and we genuinely want to be someone that can be counted on to be there for our teammates. The problem with this is that there are no boundaries and you’ve left yourself vulnerable to distractions and not getting anything critical done.

In the end, you and your team only truly want one thing: that you get your work done. Educating yourself and the people you work with on how to maximize “core time”, will help you set boundaries and hold your time sacred.

The fact of the matter is that people respect those that command it. Be someone that is disciplined with your time and be sure to let everyone know it. What you do with your time is crucial and we can’t make it up like we tend to try to tell ourselves we can.


I use these points to keep my time in check. It’s a very difficult thing to do because there is so much opportunity out there and so many cool things to watch, read, and discuss.

I hope that these have flipped some light switches in your own mind and that they’ve provided the start of a new productivity strategy for you.

Be smart and disciplined with your time. It will really show by the end of next year.

4 Responses to “Keeping Your Time in Check”

  1. J Davis on May 30, 2013 at 9:17 am said:

    “That being said, the little sneaky time-suckers like tweets, texts,
    emails, notifications, and meetings, always have a way of finding their
    way back into our routines.”

    You can say that again. Although I loved your article and have been trying to capitalize on core time but the above time-suckers really blow it big time. I have my pending website http://www.5stardesigners.com work to be done that has been lingering on past 3 weeks. Maybe if I should not log into any social media site at all for a week, I could see some major change and acquire more core time I guess.

    Nice article though, I’ll be sharing it on my fb page. 🙂

  2. velvet978 on May 28, 2013 at 8:54 am said:

    Great tips. Thanks 🙂 classic cars puzzles

  3. geekG on May 25, 2013 at 9:20 pm said:

    nice tips.

  4. Andrea D. on May 24, 2013 at 12:43 pm said:

    agreeable concepts, absolutely.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Learning to code can be fun!

Get started today with a free trial and discover why thousands of students are choosing Treehouse to learn about web development, design, and business.

Learn more