A friend of mine is teaching a college writing course, tutoring, and working a third job from home. She needs to work at the extra jobs for 30 hours per week. Plus, she is a mom with all the responsibilities that come with parenting a young child.
Another friend is a nurse, working three to four shifts per week. Her hours are not 9 to 5.
I also work a strange, part-time schedule. I generally work about 15 hours a week as a lawyer. I also substitute teach, blog, write, and volunteer.
For anyone without a regular, 40 hour per week schedule, keeping track of available time becomes important. I use time tracking to figure out how much time I have.
I used this print out and highlighters to create a time map of my next week and figure out how much time I have left to work between the hours of 7 a.m. (when the kids leave the house for school) and 4 p.m. (when they return home).
Red is a scheduled time item that is not flexible at all.
Yellow indicates that I must do the task, and that the time noted is the optimum, scheduled time, but it is flexible. (For example, I still need to workout each day, but could do so in the morning instead.)
After adding up the time available, I have about 25 hours. I work no more than 15 hours at my grown-up, big girl job, leaving me 10 hours to schedule everything else. 10 hours is a lot of free hours (more than usual), so I will probably tackle a big task (like taking down Christmas decorations and cleaning out the freezers).
TIP: Time tracking does not need to be limited to figuring out free work hours. Use it to schedule or to visually record how you spend your time.
I don't use time tracking every day or every week. But every now and then, it really does help.