How to Make Time for the Big Things

You usually can’t.

I mean, most of us can’t carve out a big chunk of time to sit down and write that book that’s been in our head for years.  Or make that baby book for our now-25-year-old child.  Therefore, our words of wisdom remain unwritten and our child adds another chapter to her tell-all book about our neglectful parenting.

I had the good fortune this week to attend a time management class given by Harold Taylor.  Do check out his website,, for tons of great advice on how to organize your time.  Harold told the class how he blocks out 90-minute chunks of his days to work on writing his books and preparing his classes.  I was amazed.  I even asked him to go over that part again, just to make sure I got it right.  Get this:  Harold BLOCKS OUT on his calendar – in PEN – specific chunks of time during the week to work on his writing.

The result is that Harold has written dozens of books and hundreds of articles – 90 minutes at a time!

Why 90 minutes?  That’s about the limit that most of our brains can focus on one topic at a time.

I was getting excited about the possibilities.  But I was skeptical that I actually had any 90-minute blocks of time available to work on one of the projects in my head.  So I decided to do the math.  I made a list of all of my usual time commitments, plus some of the  unstarted projects, across all areas of my life.  Next to each item I listed the approximate amount of time I devoted to it every week.  (I converted the times to a weekly average when I came across things I do bi-weekly or monthly.)  I added up the times, feeling certain that there weren’t going to be enough hours in the week to do them all.  But to my surprise, my entire list consumed only 80% of my waking hours.  I would still have 20 unscheduled hours a week left over.  I really do have time to block out some 90-minute chunks every week, especially if I group some of my other activities.

Then came the test.  I blocked out 90 minutes yesterday to write.  I turned off my e-mail screen.  I turned down the ringer on the phone.  And I wrote for 90 minutes.

The book might just happen.  The scrapbook?  Well, it might turn out to be just a photo album.

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