Learning how to manage your time begins with self-management. Self-management is a relatively simple concept and is one of the essential skills needed for self-leadership, which is the ability to influence yourself towards achieving your objectives.


The first self-management skill I want to discuss today is effective time management. Time is a non-renewable resource in life.  Once it is gone, there is no way to replenish the stocks, wealthy or poor.  Learning how to manage your time is one of the most difficult and most important skills we learn in life.  Those who do not cultivate this ability have many struggles ahead of them, in all areas.

168 Hours

There is a helpful exercise to assist us in effective time management.  Firstly, understand there are only 168 hours in any given week; that is 24 hours spread over seven days. That is all the hours we are allotted per week. It is a good starting point for a time management plan.

We then divide the total time into mandatory hours and discretionary hours.  For mandatory hours we allocate sleep, meals, exercise and a morning ritual.   Personally, I categorize the morning routine under mandatory hours because I simply cannot do without this activity to start my day. I have created a Time Management Workout to make this exercise easier.

From 168 hours, we subtract all the mandatory hours listed below:  

  • Sleep.  The recommended amount of sleep per night is 7 hours for adults – over seven days this is a total of 49 hours of sleep.
  • Meals.  Cooking and eating require about an hour per meal, three times per day, over seven days – I estimate a total of 25 hours including time to clean up.
  • Exercise. 5 hours of vigorous exercise per week at minimum is the recommendation.
  • Morning Ritual. My morning quiet time, for prayer and meditation, is estimated at 4 hours per week.  My morning routine is a non-negotiable time allocation for me.  I spend this time with God so that He can direct me and I can start the day well.

Now, let’s do some math

If we calculate the total, from a starting point of 168 hours per week,  83 mandatory hours fill each week.  This leaves a total of 85 discretionary hours to spend as needed. To manage our time, we start by managing these 85 discretionary hours more effectively, identifying weaknesses and prioritizing these hours to maximize efficiency.

I recommend using the quiet time in the morning to think about three things that have to happen that day to optimize discretionary time even further. To ensure successful completion of the tasks and manage priorities do these three priorities first thing.

When planning the day’s three priorities, take into account every aspect of your life. That includes all five categories mentioned: God, health, family, work, and play.  Once you prioritize and manage your discretionary time well, the rest of the pieces will fall into place. You can learn how to manage your time so do not give up.