35 Making and Analyzing an Inventory of Time Events

You can’t manage your time effectively if you haven’t answered the WHAT question of organizing — what are the events or activities that you need to put into a schedule? After you have made an event inventory, you can analyze each item so you can schedule it effectively.

Making an Inventory of Time Events

You create an inventory by keeping track of how you spend your time using a diary to record every task, activity, or event you did that was significant for you or that took up some measurable amount of time.  If you think of it as a game you are playing to discover time patterns it will be more fun.  It usually takes a few weeks for time patterns to start showing up in your diary because many things you do (especially at school) follow a weekly or monthly schedule.

  • Be sure to include events that you started but didn’t finish for any reason
  • Don’t forget time you spent online
  • At the end of each day, if there were other things that you wanted to do but didn’t have time to do, add them to a WANTED TO DO category at the end of the day’s diary (and also write down how much time you think they would have taken).


You can use paper or your computer or anything else to keep track of your diary. What matters is that you record  all the significant events you did in a way that shows when and how long they took to do.  Here’s a sample…


Analyzing your Directed and Personal Categories

After a few weeks of tracking your time,  you should analyze your diary.  First, you should sort your events into DIRECTED and PERSONAL categories. Remember that DIRECTED events are those that you do at a time that someone else decides, and PERSONAL events are things that you choose to do.


  • Are there too many directed events in your schedule?   One sign of this is if there are many events that you started but didn’t finish on time.  Many adults face this problem at work, with too many projects assigned to them, so they have to work “overtime” at home at night and on weekends.   You might feel the same way, that you are being made to do too many things.  This often happens when you start middle school and have more than one teacher, because each teacher directs some of your work and they might not plan together to make the amount of work fair for you.   Another cause of too many directed events is that your parents might be signing you up for too many extra lessons or activities.
  • Most directed events follow a regular schedule.  Can you figure out what the pattern for each kind of event is?   Events can repeat at many different time scales:  every day, every week, every month, and every year (like school graduations).
  • Are there any schedule conflicts between directed events?  If you have sports or music practice after school on days when you have a weekly test the next day,  you might feel like you don’t have enough time to study.
  • Do any of the directed events take longer than you realized?  Many time management problems are caused by underestimating how long something takes (doing homework or studying for tests are common examples).  Underestimating means that you don’t finish an activity or don’t do it as well as you needed to.

PERSONAL  events

  • Many personal events also follow patterns, often because you do them in the “pieces of time” before, after, or in between directed events that follow patterns.  For example, you might follow the pattern of hanging out with your school friends or walking home with them every day after school.   But you have soccer practice once a week, you might hang out with your soccer friends once a week after practice.
  • Did you discover any event patterns that you didn’t know you were following?
  • Is there a lot of “free time” during your day when you don’t usually have any events?   Does this “free time” follow any patterns?
  • Did you discover that you prefer a certain size for your pieces of time in which you do personal events or activities?   This will be very helpful when you need to schedule yourself to do projects that have many parts that are spread out over weeks or months.
  • Are there “house rules” that limit how much time you can spend watching TV, playing video games, or doing other personal events?
  • What is in your WANTED TO DO category of events?  Why couldn’t you do them?
    • Because you wanted to do them at a time when you had a conflict with a DIRECTED event?
    • Because you did something else that was less important but you did it anyway?   Put these events into a WASTED TIME category for now.

Analyzing Event Properties

Now that you have some idea of how you spend your time between directed and personal events, you can analyze specific events more closely so that you can create an effective time schedule.

You have learned in earlier chapters that many organizing systems use properties of resources to create categories and otherwise organize them.  A similar thing happens when your organize tasks, activities, or other events.  These can have  properties that create time patterns, and you can use these patterns to be better organized.

Three of the properties of events are easy to analyze:

REPETITION – does the event happen many times over and over?     Many DIRECTED events have REPETITION as a property

  • EXAMPLE:  The schedule of classes at school;  each class repeats at a particular time on specific days.
  • But not all events that are REPETITIVE are DIRECTED; your birthday and those of your family and friends occur every year.


DURATION – does the event have a fixed time from start to finish?  Can you estimate how long it is likely to take?  Many events with REPETITION have a fixed DURATION

  • EXAMPLE:  Your music lesson is one hour long


DEADLINE – some events are the times when some big project has to be completed; you can choose when to work on it, but you have to start early enough to have enough time to finish

  • EXAMPLE:  Your big report is due on June 1.



Using Event Properties to Manage Your Time Better

The next chapter explains how to use these event properties to create a schedule that manages your time better!


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"The Discipline of Organizing" for Kids Copyright © 2022 by Robert J Glushko is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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