The Condo Concept of Time Management

A better way to structure
the TIME of your LIFE

© by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
In the TaskMaster™ and Time Management Series

Lost in Time?

When we are driving around lost and our GPS seems to be stuck on, “RECALCULATING!” a map of the territory provides a quick hit of the structure we need to reorient, even if we’ve been driving in circles for some time.

Phillip Martin: artist/educator

Phillip Martin: artist/educator

We can still choose to take any of the roads on the map to get us where we are going from where we are NOW, but at least, with a map, we can tell the roads from the driveways!

Likewise, when life itself feels like it is spiraling out of control, nothing is more helpful than a quick glance at something with structure – like a TIME map.

Creating a TimeMap provides an organizational structure for your seemingly “impossible to schedule” life — reserving slots for broad categories representing the various activities that make up the tasks that, together, create each of the days of our lives.

It can be adapted to your very own personal style — even if you prefer spontaneity and variety. It even works for those of us who have less than complete control over our days, as well as for those of us who seem to have too much control and are overwhelmed deciding what to do when and what to do next.

A quick review

In an earlier article, Time Mapping Your Universe, I went into detail about how to set up a TimeMap (using my own, at the time, as an example of the concept). More importantly, in that earlier article I went into detail about the advantages of having and using a Time Map

WHY a Time Map?

  • Having a visible representation of how you believe the elements of your life would be best-scheduled reduces the number of decisions-in-the-moment.
  • That, in turn, increases cognitive bandwidth in the moment — so that you are able to actually accomplish something beyond planning, list-making and beating yourself up for getting off-task again.
  • In addition, it serves as a double-check to make sure that you aren’t saying yes to demands for your time and attention, when you really need to be saying NO or “Not right now.”
  • It also gives you somewhere to go to locate a quick answer for the inevitable question, “Well, when will you have time?”

In the absence of a schedule imposed by another (like work or school), it is waaaaay too easy to get caught in the flexibility trap.

© Phillip Martin, artist/educatorThe Flexibility Trap

Entrepreneurs and service-professionals in particular, frequently get caught in the flexibility trap, inadvertently flying stand-by in our own lives in service to our businesses and the needs of others.

Those of us with alphabet disorders are some of the worst offenders, since many of us struggle with time and transition management.  Before we realize what hit us, our lives are no longer OUR lives.

  • Just because a certain hour is not already taken by another client, or another client project, doesn’t mean it’s “free time” we can book on the fly any time someone wants to use our services (or needs a favor).  That’s a recipe for burnout!
  • A TimeMap is a reminder that certain hours are “booked solid” already – with other items that are necessary to keep YOUR life on track and worth living.
  • ESPECIALLY if you love what you do, you need to schedule non-work time or you’ll quickly notice that there isn’t any.  Even if your long hot soak or reading time can’t be accomplished without family interruptions, it’s still more “you” time than not.  MAP IT IN!
    (This is doubly important if you are a Mom or Dad who works his or her fingers to the bone inside the home rather than at a job at a different location.)

Creating a TimeMap provides an organizational structure for your “impossible to schedule” life — reserving slots for broad categories representing the various activities that make up the tasks that, together, create each of the days of our lives.

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ABOUT Time Maps and Time Mapping

In Time Management from the Inside Out, author, Professional Organizer and time-management guru Julie Morgenstern explains the time mapping concept beautifully:

A Simple Time Map Example – SOURCE HERE

“The Time Map is simply a visual diagram of your
daily, weekly, and monthly schedule

. . . as well as . . .

a powerful tool for helping you be proactive amid
the swirl of demands that come your way.”

NOT the same as other structures

It’s a mistake to think of your TimeMap as a different way to do a To-Do List.

A TimeMap is more like a when-do list: set by you to reflect your functional temperature, your sleep/wake schedule, and how you choose to spend the minutes of YOUR life.

Like a coach on paper, your TimeMap reminds you what you’ve decided – broadly. You’ll still need your calendar for specific appointments, but scheduling them will be much easier.

You can shuffle things around any way you like in the moment, but your TimeMap provides a structure to help you make those shuffling decisions — without having to use a whole lot of cognitive bandwidth figuring out what you might be dropping out (or will need to take time to reschedule) every time you are tempted to say yes to a sudden request for time and attention.

So What’s The Condo Concept?

CondoConceptMorgenstern, quoted above, is most often identified with TimeMapping because she promotes it vigorously, and was one of the first to write about it in depth.

She cautions against scheduling every waking hour and minute of every day so that you maintain flexibility in your schedule.

I personally find it works best to ignore that piece of her advice on my own TimeMap, however, because ignoring it helps me best to be able to remain flexible in my life.

I prefer to think of the bins of my life – and the boxes on my TimeMap –
sort-of like I’m the manager of a time-share condominium.

I can’t see any reason NOT to fill the vacancies, especially since I KNOW they won’t all be occupied all the time.  But I certainly don’t want to have to take the time to check for occupancy on every floor every single time I want to do something spur of the moment, or every time I add a client or class.

That’s why I fill up my map – to be able to see at-a-glance where I can stick a new arrival who won’t be staying long, even though that particular “condo” is reserved for another occupant most of the time.


Even though I don’t let clients move into condos designed for non-client activities, I frequently decide to use some of my “mgh personal” slots and unfilled “client” or “class” condo spaces to read, since I rarely watch television, and then only via Hulu.

I don’t even own a television set, and haven’t for decades now, since I tend toward television hypnosis. At the end of my life, I prefer to have spent the minutes of my life DOING, rather than tractor-beamed into mindless watching.

But I’m an avid reader.  I am usually in the middle of several books at the same time, with a stack of magazines the likes of New Scientist, Psychology Today, or Scientific American Mind waiting for me on both coffee and bedside tables (not to mention my “cookie mags“).

I doubt that’s going to change at this point in my life.  Life-long learning is one of my core values, and wall-to-wall bookcases are all the reminder I need to, ad hoc, fill some of my condos with reading time.

Whenever I find myself with a string of empty condos, I might decide to “open up the connecting doors” and use the space created to take myself on a spur of the moment field trip — maybe a little retail therapy, or a cup of java and some live conversation at my local coffee shop (or a drink at a local watering hole).

Changing Classes

Confused? This might help.

Think back to the time when your schedule was set FOR you: school days.

In High School, for example, you knew what time school started and what time it ended – but what you were supposed to do with each individual time period probably varied from semester to semester and year to year.

Your English class, for example, might be the first thing in the morning one semester, and your last class before the day was over in another.

  • Regardless, you were able to develop a “map” of your time at school, because individual classes were generally the same length, even though which subject went where could change.
  • Without some way to track the structure, you’d never be able to keep track of which books you needed when, or where you were supposed to go next.
  • If you wanted to meet up with your friends for lunch, you certainly needed to know which “block” of time to use (unless you planned to skip class, that is, which probably got you into as much hot water as dropping out an important element does today).

Still, you didn’t have “unscheduled time” built into your structure just so you’d have the flexibility to spend the occasional lunch with your friends, right?

School’s Out!

Most of us also knew when we were expected home, and about how long it took us to get there.

If your home was at all like mine, if you weren’t planning to show up when scheduled, you had to call to let somebody know – but having that get-home-time “scheduled” didn’t automatically mean you lacked the flexibility to call home with a change in plans. Right?

  • It simply helped you know what was pre-decided as a schedule you could plan around without having to stop and think with every new opportunity.
  • HAVING a structure, decided on in advance, is what tends to work best for those of us with alphabet disorders.
  • An effective TimeMap is not a minute-by-minute accounting of your time.  You paint with broad strokes – guestimates, really – broad categories that fit the way you do things best at the times you are best suited to do them.
  • Your TimeMap helps you focus with intentionality. Get the deciding out of the way early!

Hitting the Highlights

The important thing, just like it was set up for you in High School, is to develop a realistic structure with specific times chunks for the BASICS – putting the big rocks in first, as Steven Covey says.

Those of us with Executive Functioning disorders and challenges need to make sure we count the basics as BIG ROCKS, or we’re likely to drop them out entirely!

Consider “condos” for:

  • when you wake up (and how long it takes the clouds to part)
  • what time you need to start work (with time for breakfast, dressing, and getting there)
  • what time you need to STOP work in order to have some time for that life you’re working to support (considering transition and travel time)
  • when you go to bed (with a “condo” for the time you require to do everything you need to do before you inadvertently overshoot your sleep window)
  • and enough time to handle the important activities of the rest of your life, in an ongoing manner, in reasonable chunks.

How’s YOUR Schedule working for you?

If you’ve been spinning your wheels, struggling to get it all done, or watching your long-term goals drift into a longer term than you ever thought possible, give TimeMapping a try.

It’s an especially useful technique to try if you are one of those people who says yes to every “Do you have a minute?” request, simply because it seems easier than figuring out when else you can realistically accommodate those who need your time and attention.

That’s my tendency, by the way, unless I guard against it.

Add in transition time, and it doesn’t take very many of those yes-es before we are scrambling to keep up with everything we have to do, working late into the night, and carrying things over to tomorrow’s to-do list.

When our long-term goals fall off that particular cliff, we beat ourselves up for our lack of follow-though, rarely thinking about the need to schedule time for things besides working on the short-term projects and taking care of the daily to-dos.

A TimeMap is a powerful tool for remaining proactive, controlling how you spend the minutes of YOUR life amid the swirl of demands that come your way.

If this sounds like something you might want to investigate further, click over to the longer article, Time Mapping Your Universe, followed by TimeKiss™ – Tips for Time Mapping (Part two of the Getting Things Done articles FINALE).  There you will find more detailed explanations of how to put together a TimeMap that might work for YOU.

You might also benefit from taking a look at a few sample TimeMaps in the Related Content links below, for more information from others who use this technique to stay on track — and a graphic illustration of Stephen Covey’s “Big Rocks first” concept below.

As always, if you want notification of new articles in the Time Management or 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

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

Other Related Articles on
(in case you missed the links above)

Other sites with Time Map Examples

Time-management related articles ’round the ‘net

BY THE WAY: Since is an Evergreen Site, I revisit all my content periodically to update links — when you link back, like, follow or comment, 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!"

28 Responses to The Condo Concept of Time Management

  1. Pingback: Time management tips for better Executive Functioning | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  2. Pingback: For all my Grumpy friends | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  3. wendy says:

    Coming by to check out your stuff…and on you.
    What’s up?
    Drop by or drop me a line.
    You know I miss you.


    • And I miss you too. Now that the weather is getting cooler – FINALLY! – I have a bit of a brain again, along with some energy — and the will to live :).

      This summer has been particularly brutal for me. The horrors of 2014 left me waaaaaaay behind the eight-ball, but I’m so darned heat defensive (and the wiring in my new digs will only support ONE window-unit AC), that I have barely been able to lift my head out of the “heat-stroke” that feels like depression.

      Only the drive to decorate for the approaching holidays rattles my cage enough to get me to begin again to attempt to get back on the horse — along with it is my privilege to do for my darling puppy TinkerToy, of course (who hates heat as much as I do, so he is thrilled that going outside doesn’t mean panting!).

      FINALLY! I’ll head over to see what you’ve been up to of late.


  4. Jeanie says:

    Hey Madelyn! This is a really interesting concept! I can relate to the reader who struggles to remember to look at their carefully made plans. I hope to read the other articles to try to learn more about this concept. I am so mired down in to-dos. I am hoping to find some ways to see some light. Gotta go get Zoey! Can’t wait to hear from you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Jeanie. Unlike most of the ways of handling Time and Time Maps, my “Condo” approach seems to be the most ADD/EFD- friendly way of attacking the need to plan (but that’s an entire post or two all by itself!)

      My life has been more than a bit nuts this summer, but hopefully there will be time for a phone visit soon. Thanks for stopping by the blog – and especially for taking time from your life to leave me some feedback and let me know you were here.


  5. wendy says:

    Hey lady, you ok?
    I know I’ve been off in old funk land and lost my way…I’ve missed you.
    Another great article BTW.
    Let me know how you are.
    I care.
    W. xoxo


  6. Hi! I’ve just seen an article you may (or may not) be interested in. But I know you’ll LOVE the first illustration, by someone named Dadara:


    • I don’t know why not, but I just tripped upon the fact that this comment had not been approved. I must have checked out the link and mistakenly thought I’d approved it first? In ANY case, thanks a million for thinking of me and sending it. As you know, I love the topic and appreciated the article greatly. Please accept my sincere apologies for overlooking your comment for soooooo long.


  7. badfish says:

    This is funny…because for years I have created a “time map” for my days, and an 8-day map (8, because that’s how many fit on the paper). If I need a couple weeks or three, I just staple three 8-day maps together (I have called them “calendars”). The daily calendar/map with hour allocation…I thought it was my creation, I didn’t know someone else had thought of it, and actually put it in Excel or Word, or other format. So…I’m like a genius but too stupid to make money on it, eh?? Thanks for all this info…I appreciate it. I just wish I were better at follow through…some times after spending hours creating the calendars, I don’t (forget?) look at it.


    • LOL re: your 8-day “week” I WISH! It would be great if, by some sort of magic, the citizens of Alphabet City actually did get an extra day to play catch up each week (while the neurotypicals snoozed on!)

      Yeah, TimeMaps have been touted by the “gurus” for decades. It’s how I managed my time in college, which (like you) I “invented” for myself because it simply made sense. I look at my functioning today and wonder how I EVER did it, in fact (and this was pre-dx!)

      As a theatre grad who was lucky enough to get cast A LOT, almost always in a show, I had to figure in auditions, rehearsals, learning lines and blocking, costume fittings, etc. AND performances, as well as classes and college-related admin activities (registration, drop dates, add dates, exam details. vacations, etc.) — not to mention eating/sleeping/partying and dating!

      I began each quarter with my grid of classes (including transit time, when a class was not in the English/theatre buildings). I filled it in quickly as the quarter moved on and things were added – all fairly down and dirty (no time to do more than that – Happy Hour awaited!)

      Like YOU, it never occurred to me to attempt to monetize it, since most of my theatre cronies did something similar-ish, (I assumed). They showed up on time for rehearsals, I ran into them at auditions and parties, and most of them didn’t flunk out of school. (no problem/no market?) Too bad, huh?

      Maybe if we had thought to market our approach, we’d be talking about this at some resort with pool boys serving us drinks with fruit and umbrellas! (of course, we might be sitting with a garage of remaindered books, too, saying, “Well we *thought* it would sell.”)

      Thanks for stopping by (and leaving tracks)


      PS. Yeah – that “looking at it” thing has to become a habit – EVERY darned time one doesn’t use the system for a bit! THAT’s really the hard part (especially for those, like me, who have NO sense of time!)


  8. bethbyrnes says:

    Well, like most borderline OCD people, I am constantly searching for new ways to improve order and efficiency, Madelyn, LOL. 😀 So, whenever I see a new system along these lines, I try to incorporate some of it into my existing productivity framework. One thing I do believe is that our plans need to be flexible. I have always said, I will jump on the best idea and not be wedded to clinging to mine.

    We have all had setbacks. Every time one moves, the whole routine has to be recreated so I avoid that like the plague. On the other hand, whenever there is a development that requires reorganizing, I welcome it because it seems the new arrangement is always an improvement. I just wish it didn’t come with a tab.

    Anyway, I appreciate what a dynamic blog you have. People come here and learn all these great concepts and have you to explain them. It’s wonderful! Thank you.


    • #1 – Thank you, Beth , for your acknowledgment of the blog and the feedback that my explanations are useful. I appreciate it MORE than I can say. (but I’ll try to say it anyway, of course ::grin::)

      Much of the feedback I receive is from individuals who are overwhelmed by the length or level of detail (generally audial processors and individuals who really struggle with reading comprehension).

      While I DO realize that I can’t be all things to all people – and that the followers I can serve best are, primarily, READERS – it shuts me down on those days where negative feedback is high and positive feedback is missing.

      On those days, comments like yours become the wind beneath my wings that keeps me going. So sincere thanks for that.

      #2 – I think the fact that you actively seek more “organized” ways of doing things and are willing and ABLE to embrace them is part of what keeps you on the “not” side of the OCD line. Symptoms appear on a continuum, when you compare OCDer to OCDer, but a great many struggle with the cognitive flexibility that change and growth require – which you don’t seem to.

      FOR ANYONE ELSE READING: I’m not talking about the perfectly normal resistance to change because it is a hassle and really slows us down otherwise — like having to set up all new “homes” for everything since I have a new apartment now, because life is STILL too much of a scavenger hunt and WILL be until there is “a place for everything” and I have developed the new habits of returning things to their new homes (so OF COURSE I resist moving like the plague – but that doesn’t indicate OCD on my part).

      I’m also not talking about our resistance to doing things in a way advised by somebody who doesn’t work like we do (who thinks his or her own way is THE best way) — all those “gurus” who give you advice you know doesn’t work (maybe even when you’ve already tried with something similar – if not exactly what they are suggesting would be “better”). I will always encourage any adult to trust his or her own gut about whether something is likely to help or hinder productivity.

      It seems from here, Beth, that you discovered for yourself how much easier life is when things are organized, and know yourself well enough to pick and choose the methods that are likely to work best for the way YOU work. You also seem a bit like me in that using your systems ALL the time is what you need to make sure you use them when it counts.

      You may also be a bit like me in this way too: I get “anxious” when I can’t or don’t use my systems – because I’m pretty sure, through prior experience, it will bite me in the butt later! Doesn’t indicate, by itself anyway, that we suffer from one of the anxiety disorders.

      That’s ALSO NOT “anal” — except to those who swing fast and loose, whether or not it serves them or hinders them. From what I have read on your wonderful blog, I wish MY life were as systematized as yours – you seem to be doing pretty darned well to ME!



      • bethbyrnes says:

        I’ve been this way since childhood. I remember the day “order” dawned on me. I was sitting next to another second grader, a boy named Harold, and looked inside his open front desk. All his papers and work-books were neatly stacked on each side, with his pencils in between, also neat. It was like an epiphany — I can literally remember it. Ever since, I have been a neatnik. And continually looking for ways to improve that. I have Virgo rising, if you know anything about astrological theory, that is very typical for a Virgo.


        • Order remained a mystery to me for many years. It always seemed to me like magic worked by elves or gnomes. I could never figure out how ANYONE accomplished it. I had to construct it, piece by piece, tip by tip, trial by trial, failure by success.

          I’m a double Sag – lots of 12th House stuff. Scorpio Venus and Moon. Capricorn Mars is my organizational salvation – lol. (studied with a metaphysician mentor for a couple of years – quite the amateur always & still. The theory fascinates me, however). Seeking, always seeking.
          PS. Harold! Isn’t it wild how those early names remain?


  9. bethbyrnes says:

    I like the idea of spelling this out thoroughly, Madelyn. I am an extremely organized person, probably anally so. Therefore, I have been doing a version of this for years and I color code, days each have a separate hard copy sheet of paper in the color of the day (based on the ancient Greek colors for each energy). Then I map out my day with arrows or stars for priorities. Since I work for myself, in my own home office, my routines are very regular with time slots for everything. I do build in relaxation time too.

    I used to forego television but since 9/11 I felt I needed to keep the media on — CNN — for updates on local and national events for which I might need to be responsive (like wildfires, etc.) but I never sit and watch television during the day (04:00 to 18:00) and when we do at night, it is usually a DVRd program like something from PBS.

    In any event, I like order and consistency, so this post is right up my alley and I love the Condo concept! Well done!! 😀


    • LOL – I would have guessed you’d be naturally organized down to your Q-tips, Beth.

      I wish I were! (I know, it would have its down side too, but the upside would make my life sooooo much easier to live, IMHO).

      I’ve had to learn every technique and system the hard way – the concepts made no innate sense to me for years (prob’ly why I go into such detail over basics on this blog – I KNOW I’m not the only one who needed the info from the ground up!)

      I’m pleased to read that someone like YOU enjoyed the system recap, tho’ a bit surprised, so thanks for telling me. I love your energy system color coding, btw. It’s a perfect example of how each brain “files for ease of retrieval” in its own way. I don’t do THAT, but I do the arrows, stars, and bunch of unique-to-me things to draw my attention, keep myself on track and motivate myself.

      I RELY on my systems like a person who can’t walk relies on a wheelchair! The events of 2014 took them all away from me, and I am “crawling” as I put them back in place again. Currently, I am rereading some of my own older stuff to remind myself of what I know (and what I did) – so there may well be more “org” posts in the near future, time permitting.

      Thanks SO much for ringing in – on this post especially.


  10. Pingback: TimeKiss™ – Tips for Time Mapping | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  11. Pingback: TIME Mapping Your Universe | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

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