TimeKiss™ – Tips for Time Mapping

KISS: Keep It as Simple as you sCAN

© by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Another in the TaskMaster™ Series
TimeMapping Part 2

© Phillip Martin – artist/educator

Finding Your Way

As I said in Part I of this article — when we’re lost, if we’re smart, we check the map.  A road map provides the structure we need to reorient, even if we’ve been driving in circles for some time.

When life itself feels like it is spiraling out of control, nothing is more helpful than structure  – a MAP of the territory.


In Part I of this article, I explained the basic principles of TimeMapping, and gave you an example of the TimeMap I’m using currently – Down & Dirty style, which is what I recommend for you.

Like any map you might pick up at your local gas station, one that shows the major roads but not every house on the block, a TimeMap is an overview — something you can SCAN quickly to get your bearings.

Your TimeMap provides an organizational structure for your “impossible to schedule” life — reserving slots for broad categories representing the various activities that make it up.

It NEEDS to be adapted to your very own personal style —  and, designed appropriately, it even works for those of us who have less than complete control over our days.

Everything old is new again

TimeMapping is not a new technique, by the way. It was extremely popular with the Time Gurus in the ’80s.  With the increasing popularity of electronic devices, it fell into disfavor.

I think it’s past time to bring it back!  Never underestimate the power of paper.

Remember – links on this site are dark grey to reduce distraction potential
while you’re reading. They turn red on mouseover.

Creating YOUR ideal time map

Julie Morgenstern, author of Time Management from the Inside Out, uses the metaphor of a closet to explain how a TimeMap functions.

The time you have in any day or any week is not unlike the space in your closet.

  • Careful planning allows better utilization of the space.
  • There will eventually come a time, however, when adding one more thing to that closet is likely to render it unusable.

That’s when the things you intended to keep in that closet start piling up on a chair, the floor, your bed — or the netherworld of the hamper, winked out of reality until the reckoning of laundry day.

Forewarned is Forearmed!

Wouldn’t it be nice to know before you return from the laundry with items that have nowhere to go, how much space you might need to fit it ALL into your closet in a usable manner?

If you knew your closet simply wasn’t big enough to hold every single thing you wanted to keep in it, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to decide which items you wanted to stick around and which items needed to disappear before you were overwhelmed with clutter with no place to go but back to the hamper?

That’s what a TimeMap can do for your life

Sorry, a TimeMap won’t help you much with that hamper — but it will help you a great deal with making sure you make time to handle that closet!

Before you start dashing about into your day willy-nilly, decide which activities you want to stay and which will need to go to be able to fit everything into the space you have in your day — 24 hours, eight of which you will be asleep if you’re serious about functioning at the top of your game.

That Down-and-Dirty chart of your waking hours will remind you how much time you choose to devote to the various elements of your crazy/busy life.

Your IDEAL TimeMap

Ideal — not perfect! For some of you, it probably wouldn’t even be adequate if you were to attempt to include everything you are responsible for in a single day.

But all of you have some sense of what you’d dump if you could, and what you might like to stick in its place. Those are the items you want to make sure you include somewhere in your ideal TimeMap.

Surely there is something you could dump to make room for them.

DUMP IT – at least on your TimeMap.

  • Why?  Because those discretionary things need to be seen clearly — by YOURSELF, if nobody else — as an interruption in the life you would LIKE to be living.
  • Interruptions get NO map space.  That’s why we call them interruptions!

(See Priorities-101:Yes means No for some help handling those interruptions)

Aligning with your own functional temperature

Plan AS IF

Pretend you’re life is like mine for a minute: nobody else lives in your house to rattle your cage whenever they need or want something from you — at least not live and in-person, anyway.

  • How would you set up your schedule if you didn’t have to coordinate with anybody else’s needs?
  • I know that’s a stretch, but the point is for you to look at your OWN functional temperature to begin with.

How does your Ideal TimeMap correlate with your functional temperature when you look at the time you currently tackle categories of tasks?

You well may be doing things a certain way because that’s the way they must be done. After all, “get kids to school” can’t happen in the middle of the afternoon just because that’s when your cognition best supports the mad dash to get everyone out the door.

But do you ALSO HAVE TO pack lunches in that window of time if you’re barely functional?
Do you have to pack lunches at all?

  • You DO realize that your kids don’t eat all that healthy stuff just because you pack it in their lunch boxes, don’t you?
  • Since they are trading for the junk from the cafeteria line-up anyway, wouldn’t it be worth trading a bit of extra money for a little more stretch in the spandex of your schedule?
  • Maybe not, but worth thinking about.

Can’t “signing permission slips” be FIRMLY systematized at the other end of the day — when the kids walk in the door or immediately after dinner?

  • WARN their teachers that you are trying something new, that your kids might miss a field trip if they decide to test your boundaries, but you are committed to streamlining your schedule before you are committed. Then stick to your guns
  • If the kids miss the field-trip, they spend the day doing schoolwork in their rooms, NOT under your feet! (earplugs help here!). Nice Mommy will be back when they get with the system! (Be sure to explain the consequences when you initiate the change, by the way – and do NOT back down!)
  • You’ll only have to do this once or twice if you take the time to tweak their reminder systems. Not only will you be making YOUR life easier, you will be teaching “the law of natural consequences” lesson, and it will pay dividends for the rest of their lives.

By the way, spouses, bosses and direct reports could probably do with a bit of retraining to learn to fit their last-minute requests into a time when you are more equipped to handle them as well.  This is not just for kids!

Fly the Friendly Skies

Just as the airlines warn you to put your own oxygen mask on first, you design your TimeMap so that it works first for YOU.

THEN you figure out where the things that work for them can go.

For anything more complicated than slipping a mask over your nose and and an elastic around your head, expect to have to do a little testing and tweaking.

Place your first crack at your TimeMap in a place where you will see it — the place where you spend most of your time.

  • Mine is leaning against some reference books on a shelf over my computer monitor – just above eye level and very easy to see.
  • Somebody else’s might go on the refrigerator, or pinned to the wall of their workpod.
  • You could even check it out during frequent trips to the bathroom, as long as you could easily see it from the toilet!

The point is to be able to check in with it regularly and often.

When you first begin working with a TimeMap, make two copies.

  • The first remains pristine – an example of how you thought you’d like to divide up your week – a quick look lets you know whether you are on-task or NOT.
  • The second is for you to scribble on — noting how you actually spend your time, maybe a word or two about mood — just enough for you to be able to compare your vision to reality.

At the end of a week, compare the two TimeMap versions and adjust.  

  • Any patterns?  
  • What needs to move to a better time-slot?  
  • What needs to go?  
  • What did you forget?

Make the changes, so that you can begin again with a new “pristine” TimeMap.

  • Make a second, “scribble” copy for notes
  • Tweak it again, Sam

Over time, you’ll begin to notice what you do

The more you work with your TimeMap, the more conscious you will become when you feel the tug to spend time in a manner that doesn’t make sense with the rest of your priorities — hyperfocus insurance.

Do you REALLY want to give up family time to do a favor for a colleague that will keep you at work long enough to miss dinner? Maybe you’ll decide to say you are so sorry, but you have an appointment you can’t be late for.

Do you REALLY want to give up an hour of sleep to go back and tweak the fonts and margins in your report? Maybe you’ll decide New Times Roman and one-inch margins for the whole darned thing is really ok after all.

Do you REALLY want to stay in the kitchen an extra hour just to pretty-up the cupcakes for a bunch of eight year old kids who probably won’t even notice? Maybe you’ll let yourself BUY the cupcakes next time – or inform the teacher that you’re sorry but you’re booked solid and won’t be available for cupcake brigade at all for a while.

As time goes by, working with your TimeMap, you’ll feel less pressure to be “generous” with your time, because you will begin to see clearly what that generosity costs you.

THAT’s why a TimeMap needs to be SCAN-able!

As you teach yourself to check your map to figure out WHERE to schedule an additional request, you want to be able to ignore certain segments and focus on others.  Quickly.

When we need to change shoes, we aren’t even thinking about looking through our underwear drawer, right?

Just as we have closets, drawers and other containers for our clothing, we need to figure out a way to port the concept to our TIME.

A TimeMap is a great way to do exactly that.



Taking Control with your TimeMap

Your TimeMap will become a Down-and-Dirty budget for the TIME of your life, carving out distinct segments for each of the key categories of your life.

Instead of feeling that you have to act on every request the minute it crosses somebody else’s mind, a quick check of your Time Map will help you determine when you can fit it in — or whether you have time to handle an unexpected task at all.

Your Time Map  helps you focus on your priorities and makes sure you have a place for each of them in your weekly schedule.   

  • It will get you out of the minute by minute decisions (or lack of decisions) that characterize a typical day for many of us.
  • You will schedule certain hours during which you ignore unexpected items in favor of uninterrupted work on a particular project or activity that is important to YOU.
  • You’ll discover that you will get more done in less time overall by batching certain types of tasks – like phone calls, filing, or email.

When you’re ready to try TimeMapping, review the first part of this article and take a second look at the TimeMap I provided as the example in that post. You might also want to take a look at The Condo Concept of Time Management.

Then check out some of the TimeMapping articles in the Related Links, below and at the bottom of Part-I. A number of bloggers have compiled some GREAT tips that I don’t want to lengthen this article by repeating here.

They ARE worth taking a look at if you you’ve never worked with a TimeMap before, so consider them part of the TimeMapping content here on ADDandSoMuchMore.com, and take a bit of time to

As always, if you want notification of new articles in the TaskMaster™ Series – or any new posts on this blog – give your email address to the nice form on the top of the skinny column to the right. (You only have to do this once, so if you’ve already asked for notification about a prior series, you’re covered for this one too). STRICT No Spam Policy

HOWEVER YOU DO IT, stay tuned.
There’s a lot to know, a lot here already, and a lot more to come.
Get it now, while it’s still free for the taking.

If you’d like some one-on-one (couples or group) coaching help with anything that came up while you were reading this article (either for your own life, that of a loved one, or as coaching skills development), click HERE for Brain-based Coaching with mgh, with a contact form at its end, or click the E-me link on the menubar at the top of every page. I’ll get back to you ASAP (accent on the “P”ossible!)

Related articles right here on ADDandSoMuchMore.com
(in case you missed them above)

(Lists of article links each open in a new window/tab – don’t forget to close them when you’re done)

Other sites with Time Map Examples

Time-management related articles ’round the ‘net

BY THE WAY: Since ADDandSoMuchMore.com is an Evergreen Site, I revisit all my content periodically to update links — when you link back, like, comment (or follow), you STAY on the page. When you do not, you run a high risk of getting replaced by a site with a more generous come-from.

About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

And what do YOU think? I'm interested.

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