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Career Coach: Leap Year Thoughts about Time

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson, in this month's "Career Coach" column, offers some suggestions for how to spend your extra day in 2008.

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson.

2008 is a leap year. All of us have one extra day this year. How are you going to use it?

If you regarded every normal month as having 28 days as February usually does, then every other month of 30 or 31 days would offer us two or three extra days each month.

Do something for yourself on those two or three days. Set aside time and make an appointment to work on something important to you. Whether writing a book, working on your portfolio, or creating pieces for an art show, make sure you don't neglect your personal development.

You should view all your time as precious because it is really all you have. Interestingly, everyone on Earth has exactly the same amount of time every day, 24 hours or 1440 minutes. All of us have that in common. It's what we do with that allotment that makes all the difference.

Plenty of people have taken time to write about time management. Managing your time well will reduce your stress. Time management is directly related to goal setting. Those who manage time well will accomplish their goals. The basics are:

  • Have a plan. Write down both your long-term goals and your short-term goals and your goals for the day -- what you want to accomplish immediately. If you don't, days will slip by while the things that are important to you don't get done.

  • Be realistic when you plan your day. Estimate how long it is really going to take you to complete an item on your to-do list. If you know that it takes 15 minutes to get to the grocery store, don't plan for it to take you only 10 minutes.

  • Be flexible. Traffic, unplanned events and unforeseen opportunities and unexpected invitations may all impact your time management plan. Be flexible enough that your whole day is not impacted by an unpredictable delay. Avoid scheduling appointments across town during the heaviest traffic times of the day.

  • Update your planner on a regular basis, as new tasks and opportunities arise.

  • Writing your goals down or making a to-do list will give you a sense of accomplishment and motivation to keep going as you check completed items off the list.

  • Set priorities. Decide what the most urgent items are on your list of goals or to-dos and do those items first. If you have a big task ahead of you such as developing your portfolio, shrink the large task into several smaller ones.

Keep track of how you spend your time for a day:

  • commuting to or from work or school

  • at restaurants, or preparing meals and eating

  • on errands

  • talking on the phone (hopefully you are not doing this while driving)

  • watching TV

  • playing games

  • grooming (include all activities in bathroom too)

  • writing and reading email

  • surfing the Internet

Once you have an accurate record, you can decide which activities deserve more time, and which deserve less.

This month gives us an extra day this year. You can get more than an extra week every year with one simple adjustment in how you spend your time. If you got up one half hour earlier every day, you would get 182-1/2 hours more per year. That's more than a week. (A week is 168 hours). If you crave more rest, find a different way to save a half hour every day. Don't watch the half hour of TV when you get home from work. Perhaps there are other places you can cut back on the time you spend. Shop at stores closer to home or work. Use vendors such as doctors, dentists, hairdressers and car mechanics that are closer to home, work or school. Perhaps you have a complicated hairstyle that takes you 45 minutes to perfect every morning. If you change to a hairstyle that takes only 15 minutes, you have saved a half hour every day (more than a week a year).

What will you do with an extra week a year?

We are all given the same amount of time. It's how we use it that makes the difference. Life is a gift. Put your focus on the present and you will spend your time on the things that are important to you. It's up to you to make your 2008 truly great.

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson is a recruiter, hiring strategist, career coach and speaker, available for personal consultations and speaking engagements. She is currently recruiting for LAIKA, a feature film company in Portland, Oregon and would love to hear from any experienced technical directors interested in developing tools in R&D, especially a lighting TD, a pipeline TD, an FX TD and a compositing TD. She is also looking for a CG supervisor who has had that role on a full CG feature, a head of effects, head of surfacing/textures and shading, a render supervisor and a senior render system administrator. If you are interested in her professional services as a career coach, speaker, or recruiter, contact her at or