Working Backwards – Time Management – Peggy W Barnes

Working Backwards – Time Management

                                         (photo courtesy of danilin/

I wanted to give you a few tips on how to get out the door on time, each and every morning.  It involves working backwards.  Work backwards with me, through each step, and you will see how beneficial this can be.  This process requires you being completely honest with yourself about how long it takes you to complete certain tasks.  If you can be honest, you will see marked improvements on getting out the door in a timely and  less frazzled manner.  
If you have children, you need to factor in their getting ready personality into this equation.  I had one child that moved at a snail’s pace and the other that moved quickly and efficiently.  Know your kids and know that they are not going to make an about face in their getting ready personality anytime soon! 

The below scenario involves only me getting out the door. 

7.  I have to be a my client’s house at 9:00 a.m.

What time do you need to be somewhere?

6.  It takes me 15 minutes of “perfect” driving time to get to her house.  I live in a small town and rarely do we have traffic back ups but if you live in an area of the world that you know has traffic back up potential, I would certainly factor that into my calculations or be checking the traffic report on a regular basis. That means I need to be in my car between 8:40 and 8:43.  

What time do you need to be in the car? 

5.  It takes me 10 minutes to gather everything I need and get them to the car.  This usually involves getting water, coffee, diet coke, snack and any work related items I may need. Therefore, I need to be completely ready to gather these items at 8:28 – 8:30.  

How much time do you need to get everything ready to walk out the door? 

4.  It takes me 20 minutes to shower, dry my hair, do all my morning rituals like applying moisturizer, deodorant, brushing teeth, etc.  I move fast when it comes to this part of the morning because I have short hair and quite frankly don’t enjoy standing in front of a mirror that long.  So, that means I need to be in the shower by 8:08 – 8:10. 

How long does your morning getting ready routine take?

3.  It takes me 5 minutes to pick out the clothes I am going to wear and iron them if necessary.  
I need to start picking out and ironing my clothes by a little after 8:00. 

How long does it take you to have your clothes ready and is that something you could do the night before?

2.  It takes me 50 minutes to prepare and eat my breakfast, walk and have my quiet time, therefore this routine needs to begin around 7:10.  

How long do you need to eat, exercise and take a few moments of quiet? 

1.  It takes me about 15 minutes to really wake up.  If the alarm goes off, I am not one to jump immediately out of the bed.  Therefore, I have to factor in waking up time which means the alarm needs to be set for somewhere around 6:45 -6:55.   

What time should your alarm be set?  Do you like to jump up or hit snooze a couple of times?  

So working backwards, I have figured out, in order to walk out the door, in plenty of time, to arrive to my client’s house on time, I need to set my alarm for around 6:50.  All of the things I do for me are important for me to do in the morning.  You may not need to do all of these thing but be realistic about what you do have to get done before you walk out the door.  

Working backwards can help you in many time related activities.  Try it out, see if this exercise works for you so you can begin to arrive on time and enjoy less harried days. 
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