The Mic is On: It's About Time Management!

It’s Like Open Mic Only Different

The Mic Is On

Here’s how it works.

It’s like any rambling conversation. Don’t try to read it all. Jump in whenever you get here. Just go to the end and start talking. EVERYONE is WELCOME.
The rules are simple — be nice.

There are always first timers and new things to talk about. It’s sort of half “Cheers” part “Friends” and part video game. You don’t know how much fun it is until you try it.


Let’s start with:

  • How do we track our time?
  • What makes us lose track of it?
  • Do we bill by the hour?
  • Do we lose money when we do that?
  • How do we make sure we have time for things we want to do?

And, we’ll talk about whatever else comes up, including THE EVER POPULAR, Basil the code-writing donkey . . . and flamenco dancing (because we always get off topic, anyway.)

Oh, and bring links about time management to share!

–ME “Liz” Strauss

Related article
What is Tuesday Open Comment Night?

Image source: – standard restrictions


  1. says

    Hey Liz! Happy evening. I’m glad to get to participate tonight…a rarity for me.

    Some quick answers to your opening questions: I bill by the hour. I bill at a robust enough rate that I don’t lose money billing that way.

    I make time for what’s important by doing it first when I can (running first thing in the morning, for instance, or doing important projects first thing in the day), or scheduling it in my calendar and making it sacred.

  2. says

    Becky – I don’t buy that at all! :) You get too much cool stuff done not to have some insights.

    Liz, I suspect you’ve got incredible wisdom for us on this. Want to offer up a tidbit from your own coffers? How do you bill?

  3. says

    Hey everyone, what a timely topic. Right now I’m frustrated with one commitment. Although it pays some, it is taking lots of time, so I have less time to focus on opportunities that might make more. Make sense?

  4. says

    Hi Tammy,
    My wisdom is slow in coming. I find it’s easiest to set prices based on what the work is worth, rather than time. Based on time means if I get good at something — faster and more efficient — I get paid less.

  5. says

    Liz, that’s interesting to me. If I get fast and good at something because I’ve done it a lot, I give my client the benefit of that and am sure to tell them. They get “off the shelf” value…but I can also take that work and personalize it to their particular needs, which many of them want me to do, so I don’t end up underselling by the hour. Maybe our different work arenas don’t compare well, though! Can you give me an example?

  6. says

    Becky, I like your focus post a lot. It reminded me that I set goals for the next day before I head out of the office each afternoon. I keep them front and center so I’m more likely to reach them. Never more than 1-2 big ones. Not tasks, goals. It mostly (but not always) works.

    Do you set goals for days or weeks or quarters or…?

  7. says

    Karen, yep! I’ve been working on two posts for two days. Just published one and discovered the publish date was yesterday, when I first saved it, so it won’t show up in the New Posts list. What’s the point?

  8. says

    Tammy, I set annual goals, then use my general focus areas to try to remember what’s important. I need to improve! Time for that mid-year review, me thinks.

  9. says

    I’m a little frustrated by what I think of as Internet time.

    Folks say that they’ll help me learn something. These are folks I’ve helped in the past, soon as they ask. Then weeks go by and I still can’t find anyone who’s got the time to show me how. I hear “I can show you that in 20 minutes,” but they don’t.

  10. says

    Scot, Liz, et al – Twitter is a distraction, yes. And addictive. I’ve started giving myself distraction prizes (like Twitter time) when I accomplish something I set out to. Just a stupid psych trick, but it seems to be working. Still get sucked into Twitter sometimes, though.

    Chris Brogan’s comment about Twitter at SOBCon helped me a lot. Someone asked him how he keeps track of the large number of folks he follows. His response was something like, “I don’t. I view it more as a stream that I plug into here and there.” It helped me because it taught me I don’t really need to go back pages and pages to see where conversations started. Now I just pick up where I enter and let the rest go.

    How do the rest of you manage the Twitter allure?

  11. says

    Liz, do you think it’s because people really don’t feel they have the time or because they were probably exaggerating with the “20 minutes” estimate, and now they’re avoiding?

  12. says

    Question for all, do amy of you have open tabs for Twitter and/or Plurk Right Now?
    Is it good time mgt or a distraction from the convo at hand?

  13. says

    Liz, that’s important stuff. And probably a symptom of a couple of underlying causes: they are inconsiderate, and just maybe you aren’t pushy enough??

  14. says

    Hi Tammy,
    I’m a lot like Chris on the Twitter thing. Sometimes I have it on and just look over. Sometimes I throw a comment in and forget to look for a response that might come back . . . On the weekends sometimes I go there to play.

  15. says

    Joe – No. I use Twhirl, which I only open up when I think I have time to Twitter. If I opened Twitter in another tab I’d have to wrestle — my — hands — away — arghhh!!! — from clicking on — that tab.

  16. says

    Hi Karen (and everyone)

    Thanks for asking.

    Husband is seeing slow but steady progress. He is walking with a walker now, but the left arm is still pretty paralyzed. He has some movement from his shoulder but can’t use his hand. But we are hopeful it will come back with time.

    God bless all of you who have sent me encouraging notes and tweets.

  17. says

    Regarding time management, I find I have to actually write out a schedule – then stick to it, and give myself little rewards for sticking to it. For example, I told myself I could come to chat if I got the north side of the yard mowed (and I did, so here I am)


  18. says

    That reward system thing works with just about everyone I know. I do it all of the time. I think some of the magic of it is that it gets us to chop big tasks into smaller ones.

  19. says

    I find that a lot of social media conversations can make me loose track of time. So, I time box. If the task is open-ended, I take out the kids’ old time out timer and set it for an hour or 15 minutes or whatever – do the open-ended task and when the bell goes off – try to stop.

    But I also give myself chunks of time to do the exploration, pivot browsing, serependity conversations that is social media ..

  20. says

    Thanks for asking, Glenda. I am hanging in there. I take it one day, sometimes one hour at a time. I have learned that I raised very resilient children, who are capable of propping me up when I am sinking. And that I have wonderful friends (like all of you!)

  21. says

    Yes, Liz…breaking down tasks to smaller, manageable bites is SO important. The reward you promise yourself doesn’t have to be big, it can be a Klondike bar, or 10 minutes at Twitter.

  22. says

    Liz, call me. I’m at home. I’ll email you the number. I’m up late tonight because Rod’s taking the red-eye from Chi-town and not home ’til 1 a.m. I’ll be up at least another couple of hours.

  23. says

    Liz, on WP…
    Pick Static Page, but be sure the page exists already.
    I think it started on v2.5

  24. says

    Yes Glenda, his speech is almost perfect (the left side of his mouth droops just a bit) and his thinking is clear. They gave him memory tests and such and he did fine. It seems to be more motor skills than anything.

  25. says

    Marti, I make lists, but I think list-making is a stylistic thing.

    A few years ago my husband decided he’d start to make to-do lists like mine. About a week later I started finding weird globs in the bottom of the washing machine. We finally realized they were his to-do lists! He’d make a list, put it in his pocket, and never look at it again! He decided list-making was just not going to work for him. And the washing machine thanked him.

  26. says

    Marti, it’s hard to make a To-Do list when every call I get seems to be an emergency. Everyone thinks their problem is more important than someone elses. (but they don’t want to pay extra for it)

  27. says

    Joe, it sounds like you’re thinking of your to-do lists as static beings. I think of mine as organic and always changing, based on the re-prioritizing I do as clients call with pressing issues. I probably re-order my list several times a day.

  28. says

    One thing that works for me is to make a list of what I think I can accomplish in about 2/3 of a day. I know the rest will be taken up with other interruptions. If it’s not, I feel ahead of the game.

  29. says

    Marti, you are too funny/ πŸ˜€
    Tammy, you are probably right, I just find it difficult to prioritize sometimes. I keep answering the darn phone! πŸ˜‰

  30. says

    I am with Rick on loose – maybe that is why I generally feel like I’m drowning. I had an organizer figured out in excel that worked pretty well – til I got too busy to keep it up or something.

    For me, most of that stuff is in my head because it takes me so much time and energy to write it all down and track it. I know what I want/need to do each day. It’s when things take much longer than I thought and then I get behind of my schedule. That is when I get frustrated and have a meltdown.

  31. says

    OK, grandma just got un-prioritized – LOL
    (reminding me for the fifth time today that she has a doctor appointment in the morning.)

    Yup, got it grandma, bye…LOL

  32. says

    Marti, I guess grandmas always have to come first. When I was a little kid the New York State police were always bringing my grandmother home…after picking her up for hitchhiking. My mother would have to stop whatever she was doing to explain to the officer that gran liked hitchhiking and the if he wanted her to stop, he’d have to figure out how to convince her. She lived to be 89, hitchhiking almost daily. Maybe the grandma you mentioned could hitchhike to her doctor appointment … ?!

  33. says

    Glenda, I have a way of dealing with clutter.
    I get out of the “office” and sit outside in the sunshine (or in this case, the Tiki lamps) with the Lappy! πŸ˜‰

  34. says

    As you say Joe, everyone thinks their problem is the most important thing in the world, and to them, it is. But if they don’t want to pay for the privilege of having their problem treated as the emergency they think it it, you’re doing a disservice to your other customers who were already ahead of them in line and to yourself in terms of loosing time due to continual task switching.

    I’m not saying never answer the phone, but if you’re already involved in income producing labor, it costs you money to do so.

  35. says

    Karen, I started making my lists on index cards because my purse has a little pocket they fit in. Plus it forces me to break things down more. Which is good, because a shorter list is easier to finish and feel that wonderful sense of accomplishment from.

  36. says

    Wow this is great! I’m absolutely horrible at tracking my time. There’s a song where “minutes turn to hours into days and weeks, months” and before you know it POOF it’s all a blur anyway.

    DAYDREAMING and Technology (mail, podcasts, social websites, blogs) is where I lose it. My issue is just starting. So I have Dr. Neil Fiore’s “The Now Habit” & David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” on referral by Merlin Mann at Yet my issue is Starting.

    Oh and Julie Morgenstern & her daughter Jessie have a great book for teens on organizing. Helps me greatly!

    ok the vicious cycle’s starting. going to pzizz myself to sleep. i’ll catch up later…maybe..oh, indecisiveness.

    It’s all medical..

  37. says

    Hi Liz!

    You mean time management, like when I’m in a multi-tasking frenzy, .. or like now, when I ate 2 cream puffs instead of one so I wouldn’t have to waste time later to come back & eat the other? *grins**hugs*

    Depending on what I’m doing, I bill by the piece of work or by the minute.

  38. says

    Ha! Anyone who knows me online knows that I mark time on twitter. If I can go back through my archive, I can remember what I’ve done, need to get done, and things that I’m interested in possibly doing. If it weren’t for twitter, my day would be marked by when my children are awake, asleep, playing and bathing!

  39. says

    Oh Tammy, your grandma sounds like a hoot! (Although I’m sure your mother didn’t see it that way – LOL)

    Sadly, I am grandma’s keeper…errr…caregiver. She has Parkinson’s. But with gas prices, we may both start hitchhiking – LOL

    Your grandma sounds like ripe material for a memoir….

  40. says

    Rick, I recently started a “retainer” service where they actually feel they have the right to 24/7 service.
    Not the case, but that’s what they think (and I already have their money) so I DO have to take some of those calls. Most are solved in one sentence answers, so it’s not always a problem now. :-)

  41. says

    Liz – you are on my to do list for tomorrow (grin). For now, running outta battery power so have to sign off I’m afraid. Good luck to everyone who bills by the hour (or minute) and I love the g-ma memoir idea!

  42. says

    Bye Charlene.

    I’m off, too. Thank you all. It’s good to see everyone again.

    You have a good problem to have, Joe. :)

    Good night, Liz. Thank you for the evening.

  43. says

    Thanks for the link, Rick – that’s a great article!

    Karen, step one is to get a purse with a pocket inside.

    Step two is to buy index cards.

    Step three is to buy a pencil with an eraser.

    Step four is to place the cards and pencil in the pocket.

    Step five is to write notes to yourself on the cards and keep them in the pocket.

    Step six is to read and follow the notes.

    Step seven is to reward yourself every time you finish a task on a notecard.

    Becky, that is awesome, I will look for Jon’s post!

    Goodnight Tammy – great chatting with you!

  44. says

    I think making it part of your routine is the hardest thing. I had to force myself to set a time of day (for me first thing in the morning) to check the bank balance, make lists, pay bills, etc. It is a habit after a week or so of “forcing” yourself to do it.

  45. says

    Most of my list is not even a list, it has just become a habit. Most of it has to do with just waking up in the morning and seeing what needs to be addressed through the day.
    After I am awake is when I need a list of priorities.
    But it is also when the calls start.
    Maybe I should make a list for clients to follow?

  46. says

    I like the advice to set aside time each evening to create the 6 Most Important Things List for the *next* day. When I used it, I found it worked. Why, I wonder, am I not using it now? πŸ˜‰

  47. says

    Oh Glenda, you are in quite good form tonight! No, it only feels like there is a bill to pay every day – LOL! But I do keep a list of when they come due, and I mark each one as “paid” when it is. Plus I can budget for the upcoming ones.

  48. says

    Becky, making it a habit is the most difficult part…..

    Give yourself a reward for every day you do it.

    Liz, LOL on Strauss/Rowse

  49. says

    Well folks, time for me to turn in. Gotta prioritize sleep too – LOL

    Thank you all for your warm thoughts and prayers, and for all of the great tips on time management.

    May peace and joy bless all of your lives.

    Hugs and love….

  50. says

    Marti, that still sounds like too much work and too much focus on bills. I stick them in a folder as they arrive, pay them at one time, and file done. And check the balance twice a month before the mortgage come out – plus a few more times if necessary.

    But, really, it comes down to whatever method works for you. For Karen, it may be post-its on her forehead for her kids to remind her! πŸ˜‰

  51. says

    Yet another Tuesday Night
    Where I learned really useful stuff

    And got much more than I gave
    Which leaves me in a position so tuff

    Paying back the friends that do give
    With such vim and vivor and added fluff

    This is why I am here each week
    Because these friends give more than enough

    And when stupid questions are asked
    They are not the least bit gruff

    But will always be there
    For each and every one of us.

    Burma Shave

    Nite Liz
    Nite All

  52. says

    Hi Liz, hi everyone! πŸ˜‰

    Time is of the essence! How do you manage it when you have gazillion of things to do? =)

    Here’s a quote:
    Samuel Smiles – “The shortest way to do many things is to do only one thing at once.”

  53. says

    Plurk is down! You should see the picture they have instead of the silly birds lifting the whale thing! Its silly too, but in a different way

  54. says

    Ok, thanks to Karen sneaky time travel trick, tomorrow morning’s post is ready to republish [why can’t we set the publish date?]. So, if tonight I write this morning’s post about lunch with @tojosan last Thursday, and tomorrow morning research blogs carnivals, which was Monday afternoon’s task, then I’m all caught up!

    Nothing wrong with my time management!

    The bottom line is do what is most important to you in that moment and let the rest go.

    On that note, time for supper – last night’s leftovers.

    Thanks Liz.

  55. says

    Hi Liz, thanks! Yeah time to see me indeed! =) Tho am late again because of our time difference.

    Am now at Plurk and Twitter, but I get an error message when I try to plurk. Hmmm wonder what’s happening? Seems like everybody is experiencing a downtime!

  56. says

    Plurk is a website I actaully have to work at getting all the updates. I am forced to spend time there if I want to know what’s going on. Where as twitter I can just click a few buttons and see if I missed anything. It’s a time thing for me. I have 2.5 seconds to check on “socializing for work” before one of my kids does something drastic. Twitter makes it easy and fast.

  57. says

    Liz, you’ve described Plurk right on the dot! It’s like a barroom where you can hear everyone talking, and you can go around join in as many conversations as you want. =)

    It just takes a bit of getting used to, though, unlike Twitter where it’s more linear.

  58. says

    Hi, Liz! how do we time manage with all these social networking invites! =)

    I have had a hi5 account for 3 years now, but I have not gone there for 2.5 years! hahaha

  59. says

    I remember stumbleupon years ago. Someone added my site to it, way before social networking/media/bookmarking were even terms being used. I could kick myself for not checking into the site further back then.

  60. says

    I don’t like hi5 that much that was why I didn’t pursue it.

    Well, yeah I know it’s late there already. Here in my
    side of the world, it’s still afternoon. =)

    Have a good night!

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