Time Management Case Study
~ by The Islander Pete


Being a self-proclaimed semi-retiree from the mainstream 9-to-5 working world, I have chosen to be a work-from-home writer and content creator. As such, I need to spend much of my time working on my projects (though I enjoy it).

I have a small home office which I am content with and am surrounded by several things that are part of my ‘tools’ such as my laptop, my phone, a notepad, a mini ‘sticker board’ and of course my book collection.

I have four hours established and available in the morning. After lunch, I can continue working for another four hours before taking a break – and that’s when I go for my evening ‘fitness program’ – usually a so-called ‘effective’ walk or I do minor ‘upkeep’ activity for my garden.

I use a time planner supplemented by the notepad to organize my tasks and priorities. I am the type of person who gets upset if, for whatever reason, I start late or miss a pre-established time slot. And that’s so, especially for a priority item. A rather regular ‘incident’ – hopefully with reduced frequency by now – related to this expectation makes up the specific case study which I am sharing here. The lessons learnt will be discussed subsequently in the later part of this article.

I feel guilty if I don’t get everything done. I can only relax when my to-do list – at least the day’s ‘quota’ – is complete . It makes me uncomfortable to have open tasks. I feel relieved when all of my tasks or daily quota are completed for the day.

My regular challenge is to establish time slots for each of my priorities so I do not miss their daily ‘required’ input. So, that means that I try my utmost to ‘fit them in’.

The other challenge is to stay focused during the time slots of course. I will get distracted usually by my own thoughts although they are related to my main goals. At times I get stuck in a thought loop and this can take up a lot of time. I believe that is not quite the same as a ‘writer’s block’ as I do get inspirations and new ideas even though they come as ‘random’ mind wanderings.

I had to learn how to stay focused and not get distracted. I also had to learn how to focus on what is most important and not get lost in the irrelevant. The third challenge is that there are a lot of things that need my attention, so I tend to feel overwhelmed by them sometimes.

Despite my past chaotic relationship with time, I have actually learned a few things about how to manage it better. Here are some of the things I’ve learned from my personal experience with time management (or lack thereof).

A Time Management Overview

The importance and benefits of time management is known by most if not everyone. It’s no secret that time management is a key to success in any field. And in today’s fast-paced world, it’s more important than ever to manage your time wisely and efficiently.

One way to do this is by learning how to prioritize tasks after identifying them. Not only does this help manage time better, but it also ensures that you’re working on the correct things and the most important things – tasks that will help you achieve your goals in both your personal and professional life.

Prioritizing can be tough, especially when everything feels important and there are competing demands on your time. There always seems to be a lot of things vying for our attention on any given day. How do you know what deserves your attention first?

Identifying tasks: First, think about what your overall big goal is. What do you value? Once you have your goal in mind, consider what steps you need to take to reach it. Break down those steps into smaller tasks.

Think about what is urgent and what can wait. Urgent tasks are those that need to be done immediately, while important tasks are those that contribute to your long-term goals.

Next, consider what is most important to you. What are your goals for a particular day? What do you hope to accomplish? Once you have a good understanding of your priorities, you can start to rate them. By learning to rate your priorities, you can make better decisions about how to spend your time.

There are a few different ways to prioritize tasks. One popular method is the Eisenhower Matrix, which helps you categorize tasks by importance and urgency.

The Eisenhower Matrix is a tool for time management and prioritization. It was developed by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower and is also known as the Urgent-Important Matrix.

The Eisenhower Matrix helps you to prioritize tasks by their urgency and importance. Urgent tasks are those that need to be done immediately, while important tasks are those that contribute to your long-term goals.

To use the Eisenhower Matrix, simply draw a four-quadrant grid on a piece of paper and label each quadrant as follows:

Quadrant 1: Urgent & Important

Quadrant 2: Not Urgent & Important

Quadrant 3: Urgent & Not Important

Quadrant 4: Not Urgent & Not Important

then, place each of your tasks into the appropriate quadrant. This gives clarity and is the first guiding step when assigning activity to time slots in a daily time plan.

   My printable digital daily planner

The Incident

This is my case study from a personal real life experience of course.

On the previous day, I had laid out the current day’s schedules on my time planner with priorities all established, time slots allocated and even the sequencing of activities for a whole day.

I woke late and lost a planned 2-hour time slot for what was established as an important and urgent task. It was 9.15 am when I woke up that day. I slept well beyond my time.

I had wanted to get an early start on the day, but that did not happen. I felt frustrated, upset and annoyed with myself. I knew I needed to get the task done, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to make up the time. Immediately, I was quite sure that another time slot (and its activity) may have to be ‘sacrificed’. And I felt that the day was going to go all wrong.

Note: The task happened to be a social media posting. I was not ready to skip a day of this for some reason. I had also learnt that there are ‘best times’ to post to optimize the time of day when people are said to be active on internet / social media. Additionally, there is the fact that I am living in another part of the world with a time differential to conform to. Losing the planned time slot was going to put me behind and I now need to find another similar time frame to complete the task. I felt stressed about this because I know how important and strategic it was.

The night before, I had lain in bed awake for some time, thinking about the day ahead and feeling anxious. When I finally fell asleep, I slept deeply and, as mentioned, woke up later than usual.

It was so hard for me to admit that I had made a mistake when I lost a time slot for an important task. I felt like I had let myself down and I was really upset about it.

There were other ‘ideas’ that came to mind as I resorted to mitigating what was not a perfect start to a day which I felt would be a struggle trying to catch up on pre-planned work and even some deadlines. I thought I may even have to skip breaks for the day. That, to me, was just one ‘firefighting’ quick fix which is not the way an organised person would want to do as a long term lifestyle

These were some of the quick fixes (firefighting) which have saved (or rather, salvaged) many such days but they were not going to be the lifestyle that I would want to sweat over long term:

  • Work through lunch time
  • Push every item 2 hours ‘forward’ – I have done this often but had always felt uneasy about this one
  • Skip ‘fitness’ program item for the day – this means not having a recreational break
  • Go to bed 2 hours late ‘tonight’ say 2.30 am – this would mean I can still have my standard 8-hour ‘workday’

Perhaps more acceptable forward-looking steps would be:

  • Use multiple alarm clocks 🙂
  • Don’t allocate ‘urgent’ ‘important’ things to the first time slot of the day ~ there may be an alternative ‘cycle’

Note: I could have delegated some items to someone who can assist me but my ‘pre-set’ is: no delegation

No one likes to oversleep and lose a time slot. It’s even worse when it’s a time slot you really wanted or needed. Maybe you were scheduled for an important meeting at work, or maybe you were supposed to meet a friend for lunch. Regardless of what the time slot was, oversleeping and losing it can be really frustrating.

Of course, other unforeseen circumstances can occur to prevent you from completing a project, like your hard disk crashing or your hosting server going down for the day. But I do not consider that as bad compared to experiencing something that you have control over by yourself.

Learning Points

Since that day, I’ve been more vigilant about setting my alarm clock, respecting bedtime and making sure I get up on time. It’s a small change, but it’s one that has made a big difference in my life. And it’s one that I hope will help you, too.

If you’ve lost your time slot, don’t fret! There are a few other things you can do to catch up. Let’s take an overview in the next two paragraphs before diving into the details.

When it comes to time management, everyone has their own way of doing things. Some people can get by with relatively little sleep, while others require a solid eight hours of rest. Some people can work for long stretches without a break, while others need to take frequent breaks to stay focused. And some people prefer to work on one task at a time, while others like to juggle multiple tasks simultaneously.

It’s not uncommon to find yourself behind schedule. Life has a way of getting in the way of our best intentions. Whether it’s due to an unexpected event or poor planning, there are times when we find ourselves with lost time that needs to be made up. While it may seem daunting, catching up on a lost time slot is possible with a little focus and effort.

  • The first step is to assess how much time you will need to catch up. This can be done by looking at the deadlines for each individual component of the task and estimating how long it will take you to complete each one. Once you have a general idea of how much time you need, you can start to make a plan.
  • If possible, try to make up the lost time by working faster or taking some time out of your schedule later on. Check the schedule to see if there is another time slot that would work better for you.
  • My favorite plan of action is to cancel the day’s pre-planned ‘not important – not urgent’. I would also additionally choose an ‘important – not urgent’ activity to cancel, if more time is required. I would then put the ‘important – urgent’ item in their slots.

Note: This should not be a regular daily step as an important task can usually become urgent after a length of time. This is just a mitigating step only when an occasional top priority time slot loss occurs.

  • As you might have noticed, another way I catch up on a lost time slot is to work on the task for longer periods of time when I can find free or ‘extra’ time. This usually means working on it during my lunch break or staying up an extra hour or two in the evening.

There’s one thing that everyone has in common: we all want to get more done in less time. That’s why we invented fast food and coffee, right?🙂

  • Additionally, if possible, it can also be helpful to set aside a day or two where you can work on nothing but the task at hand.

Please note again that this is just a mitigating step when once in a while a priority time slot is lost.

Remember that it is important to stay calm and focus on catching up rather than dwelling on the lost time. Getting frazzled will only make it harder to get back on track. Take a deep breath and dive back in!


It is important to be able to identify what tasks are the most important and need to be completed in timely manner.

Time management and prioritizing can help with this. By taking the time to plan and prioritize, you can save time in the long run.

Being organized is not always easy, but it is definitely worth it. It helps you feel more in control of your life and less stressed.

When you know how to prioritize and manage your time, you can avoid feeling overwhelmed by everything that needs to be done. This leads to a healthier and happier life overall.