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Visualize your schedule to make time for yourself

Akio Oikawa

The Japan News/Asia News Network

Japan | Wed, March 29, 2017 | 11:00 am
Visualize your schedule to make time for yourself

How can you make time for yourself in your busy schedule? With the next fiscal year just about to start on April 1, some experts on time management shared their knowledge on this subject. (Shutterstock/File)

Women are kept busy by many things every day, from tasks like shopping and cooking to company jobs and child-rearing. How can you make time for yourself in your busy schedule? With the next fiscal year just about to start on April 1, some experts on time management shared their knowledge on this subject.

Megumi Shimada, who works for the public relations department of a cosmetics company in Tokyo, is concerned about her inability to use her daily time better. Her morning starts with confirming the day’s schedule and checking the news. During the day she is swamped with work, and in the evening she often meets with her colleagues to exchange information.

“I don’t have time to read or eat out. I can hardly find time to jog to keep fit,” said Shimada, 32. “My personality is to try to do everything in a limited time, which may make the situation worse.”

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“Even in this era where men and women cooperate, women still have a lot to do. From child-rearing to caring for parents, each generation has different problems,” said time management adviser Mariko Yamanaka.

Yamanaka gives lectures to share the know-how she acquired while raising children. She suggests visualizing your ordinary day as a first step in time management: “It’s important to become conscious of how you spend time throughout the day.”

People can easily understand how they spent time by writing down things like “Got up at 7 a.m.” “Left for work at 8:20 a.m.” “Picked up children from lessons at 5:30 p.m.” on sticky notes or elsewhere and lining them up.

Once you understand what you did during the day, you should check whether the time you did things was appropriate. “Rather than doing the shopping in the morning, I should do it in the afternoon when I pick up the children,” you might think, or “I should check my emails in the morning rather than before bedtime because I’m exhausted at night.” You should consider how to use your time better while sorting the sticky notes.

Yuka Murakami, who works for a company in Tokyo, practices visualization with her double-page datebook.

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Murakami, 25, used to check her schedule for the day every morning, but she couldn’t fully grasp all the things she had to do. Now she writes down what she will do the following week on the right page every Thursday. If she thinks she has too much to do, she changes her schedule on Friday.

Once she sets a time to do something, she writes down it on the left page, making it easy to understand her daily schedule. With her to-do list on the right page, she notes her progress with a red marker, and checks off the tasks she has completed.

“This makes it easy for me to understand what’s going on around me. Now I have time to prepare a lunch box at home,” she explained with a smile.

Sorting out what to do

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If you still don’t have time after lining up your tasks, you have to sort out what you need to do.

Mie Nagashiba, who offers lectures on time management as a life organizer, advised, “You have to ask yourself if something will make your future better or not.”

Nagashiba cites socializing as an example. If developing a relationship with someone has benefits for you, then it’s necessary. But if it’s just to be nice, you can terminate it to save time. The same goes for studying. Studying something for a job you desire in the future is a good idea. Otherwise, one option is to stop studying that subject.

“Even if it’s vague, imagine your future life and prioritize things that are related to your future,” Nagashiba advised.

If you live with your family, you should consider sharing the housework. “While some women select their husband’s suit and tie, you shouldn’t take on everything,” Yamanaka said. She urges people to change their thinking, and leave things that can be handled by husbands and children up to them.

If you casually tell them things like, “This is how we fold clothes” and “that’s the supermarket I normally shop at,” they won’t think you’re pushy.

After sorting out what you have to do, it’s better not to try to fit everything into your schedule, but to keep it about 80 percent full. Then you can cope with emergencies.

“Time is given equally to everyone. To make yourself comfortable in the future, please start spending your time differently from this spring,” recommends Yamanaka.

Points for spending one’s time wisely:

(1) Visualize your daily schedule

(2) Decide which activities can be rescheduled

(3) Sort out what you need to do

(4) Start shaping your environment, including leaving some duties to your family, or concentrating on your work.

(Based on the advice of Mariko Yamanaka and Mie Nagashiba)

This article appeared on The Japan News newspaper website, which is a member of Asia News Network and a media partner of The Jakarta Post