Relax, Take Back Your Time

Over the last two years I have been developing this diagram/content, which is cornerstone to HITOP Ministries. This diagram is used to walk the men I coach through how to relax and take back their time. The relaxing takes time, so our conversations often begin more like this:

  1. “I am stressed at work and need help getting control of my time.”

  2. “Everyone demands my time and I don’t have it to give”

  3. “I am working 60 hours a week, I need to get back to a manageable 40-45, what can I do?”

  4. “The demands on me are growing, what can I do? Help!"

These conversations inspired me to create a tool and help them and others “Take Back Their Time” and have a more relaxed, focused life. Specifically, focused on what’s really important. The diagram and the process can be leveraged in all walks of life: home, work, church, or frankly anywhere you find demands on your time. Equally they can be leveraged in all roles: father, husband, friend, etc. While my ministry is targeted towards men, this post is for men and women. If your time is escaping you, it’s time to “Take Back Your Time.”

Because I have seen the value of this time management model first hand and received feedback from many people I coach, I had to get this in your hands to reap the benefits immediately. For most the men I talk with, they want a deeper dive and breakdown in their specific scenario. If that’s you, please contact me to schedule a 30-minute coaching session. Click Here to request a connect today.

To explain this today, I will leverage a work scenario to illustrate the value. Ready to get started?

Setting the Stage:

So you find yourself working 60 hours a week and you desire to have a proper balance and be more intentional with your time. You may find yourself missing out on activities with your family, reading, any hobby you enjoy, working out, you name it. These extra 15-20 hours a week equate to less focus, rest, and overall joy for YOU. Now if you are doing what you love, filled with passion, and 60 hours a week is right for you, that is terrific. But stay with me here, you may still value the process and get an idea or two on small changes that could add great value.

Breaking this Down:

First thing I ask the guys coming to me with this is; Have you spoken to your manager on this? All the men I have worked with to date are employee within an organization. Those of you who are self-employed or stay at home parents, stay with me here. I am confident you will see the value in Taking Back Your Time too. In fact, you may need this more than any of us.

After asking “Have you spoken to your manager” I begin drawing the center image (see Illustration 01) Here I walk them through listing the top 5 projects, efforts, activities they have ownership for. This may include processing emails, rolling out new software, calling on customers, travel, etc.


Next I ask:

  1. How many hours are you working today?

  2. How many hours do you desire to be working?

Illustration 01:

Illustration 01:

Note: Actual Hours vs. Desired Hours is a critical step here. Do not skip this step as it opens the conversation and possibilities with your manager.

Illustration 02:

Illustration 02:

Next I ask them how many hours each of the Top 5 projects, efforts, activities are requiring of them today. I place this information on the # hours section of illustration 01. The Top 5 needs to equal the Actual “# of Hours” field.

Once you have this, I begin to show them what influences their actual time by walking them through Illustration 02.

First, I explain the Input (the who). Then, the incoming demand (the what). A spouse, relationship, child, manager, parent, etc. can and will all influence your time. WHY? Because no one is truly successful at completely blocking out a work day without personal interruption or a personal day without any kind of interruption. Therefore, if you are actually working 60 hours a week and your spouse needs you to take the car into the shop, you just received new demand (the what) from your spouse (the who). I created the Ceiling of Demand to visually demonstrate you will always have something waiting for your attention. How do you deal with that? Stay tuned, it’s coming.

Now that you have the meat behind this diagram, let’s talk what you must refuse to accept and what you will apply to gain success.

Refuse to Accept

There are three areas (at a minimum) you must refuse to accept for this model to work. This will require your concentration, your discipline, and your patience.

  • Rework – You do not have time to rework issues. Become disciplined and patient at collecting the necessary information upfront to avoid rework. Make sure you understand the expectations and what qualifies as success.

  • Distractions – Probably as important a step as any today. Whether it be your phone, social media, email, etc. you cannot afford distractions during critical times of your day. Therefore, schedule them. Designate a few times a day where you will check email, Facebook, return calls. Prioritizing your time in 45-90 minute segments may better prepare you for success against distractions. Try 45-minute work segments for a week with designated interruption time and adjust as needed. But please, do not allow a 2-minute check of Facebook to steal an hour.

  • Missed Opportunities – Distracted, over-worked people miss opportunities to do the things that mean the most to them. If you are slammed with a busy schedule and working 10-12 hour days, then someone comes to you with an idea, you may find yourself rejecting the conversation immediately. “Sorry, ____, I am too busy right now, please stop by later.” Later, means you are hearing about ____ getting a special assignment. When you dig further, it was you they wanted, but you did not have the margin or time to talk. I have been there, have you

Apply for Success

As we saw in Refuse to Accept, Apply for Success also has three areas:

  • Delegation – As new demand comes in; you need to have a way to either tackle the existing efforts or allow your Ceiling of Demand to grow uncontrollably. One way to address this is to chunk existing efforts into smaller segments and delegate those efforts to a multitude of people, or delegate the entire project. If you have a team, you will find this a bit easier, however if you don’t, remember you are a person of influence. Demonstrate to them how this project could grow their skills, visibility with leadership, etc. Be creative and get the help you need.

  • Hiring – Sometimes, not always, hiring is a suitable solution. I have leveraged this from the perspective of we need a skill we do not have today or we need time from an individual due to everyone else working beyond capacity. Good metrics along the way can support this. I hire a few people to edit my blogs, partly because I know I miss things (skill need) and partly because I don’t have time to take a class on grammar right now (resource need). See the value?

  • Narrowed Focus – If you are honest with yourself, and me (a potential coach for you) I would ask you to take me through a typical week and show me where the rest of your time is used up. From there we could narrow your focus and set priority. Bottom-line is moving from actual, unwanted hours to desired, much needed rest may be as easy as you making some shifts in where you invest your time. Don’t believe me, log your time for 1 week, be honest and look for themes. I am guilty of checking in on social media too often, watching TV as a numb out. All of which has led me to Missed Opportunities.

Tuning Back In...

Earlier I talked about unexpected interruptions. So what can we do with them? Ideally, you would not be working 100% of the time. You would organize your day to have the actual work consume 85-90% of your time/day and margin for 10-15%.  This 10-15% would be where you grow in new skills, address ad-hoc requests, and personal needs that may come up. However, ideals are not always our current state. So consider that a desired state and work to get there, by applying what you have learned today. Know what you are Refusing to Accept going forward. Your list may be slightly different, that’s good. Do what works for you. And Apply for Success the items necessary to Take Back Your Time!

For the full diagram, click here to go to Your Toolkit, then select the Take Back Your Time PDF.