by, Sonia Panchal, Xerox PR

168 is a special number when it comes to planning my time. Why? Well there are a 168 hours in a week. On average I spend about 50 of those hours asleep and maybe 18 hours eating or wondering what to consume next, as cakes and biscuits are never far from my thoughts.

With these essential activities accounted for I’m left with around 100 hours for work, rest and play. It seems like a lot of time but there are many time-suck activities that you can indulge in to stop you focusing on what needs to get done and don’t I know it! Channel-hopping, internet-surfing and the ongoing battle with the inbox are all good ways to waste time.

So with time being so precious how do I make the most of it? I’ve tried lists and found them trying. I can easily write a list in my notebook, look at it a week later and not have crossed anything off. This is very depressing.

So what’s really helped me is closing my notebook and opening up my Microsoft Outlook calendar. I now put activities straight into Outlook, so my time is accounted for. I allocate chunks of time to forward planning, reading, writing, tackling my inbox and creative thinking for the week ahead.

When the 15 minute pop-up window for the next activity flashes up on my screen it really helps focus my mind in a way a hand-written to-do list doesn’t. If something comes up, for example, a sudden meeting, I just move the activity I was going to work on to a free time-slot the next day.  

It’s a great tool for helping manage work, rest and play. For example if I’ve planned for a 30 min run one evening and can’t do it for some reason I’ll force myself to move the meeting notice (rather than deleting it) to the next day to help me meet my weekly three hour exercise quota.

Knowing that I don’t need to write a tedious to-do list every week because all my key activities are already in Outlook really helps me focus on what matters the most to me: making the most of my 168 hours a week.