Want some encouragement―and comfort that someone's life is as crazy as yours? Check out the time diaries of these three readers.
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| Credit: Thayer Allyson Gowdy

Leslie Thuet, 25
Publicist; married with one son, age three―Las Vegas

Goal: More time for myself

Her challenge: A classic harried working mom, Leslie leaves the house at 8:15 A.M. and doesn’t get home until 6:30 P.M., and sometimes works nights and weekends. She struggles to make dinner, clean, tend to her son and husband, and get to bed at a decent hour. Leslie was so frantic during the week that she kept her diary―in part because she spent eight hours preparing for and attending her mother’s birthday party―that she was up past midnight three times, skipped several meals, and managed to wash her hair only once. Says Leslie, “I seldom have time to read, paint my toenails, catch up with my girlfriends for cocktails, or, of course, work out. I wish I would have a few extra days a month just to catch up on everything!”

Leslie’s Diary


  • 7:30 A.M.: Wake up for work, extremely tired from working all week while trying to plan for the party (Mom’s 50th surprise birthday). Quickly shower, no time to wash hair or eat breakfast. My parents will be taking my son, Brenan, to day care later today (parents are staying with the family until Monday).
  • 8:40 A.M.: Finalize last-minute details with my dad.
  • 8:50 A.M.: Run out the door, late. Did not have time to pack a lunch.
  • 9:00 A.M.: On the freeway, realize I forgot to leave the car seat for my parents! Take the next exit and turn around.
  • 9:30 A.M.: Arrive to work a half hour late. Eat a prepackaged, high-calorie muffin that I find in abundance on the break-room table.
  • 9:45 A.M. to 4:30 P.M.: Work nonstop trying to jam out all my weekly documents so I can leave by 4:30 today to prepare for the party at my aunt’s house. Did not even have time to take a lunch break. Make several party calls throughout the day to the caterer and bakery and to family members to delegate tasks. Have my dad do the shopping, my husband pick up and drop off the margarita machine, and my brother pick up the cake and the ice cream. By four o’clock I have had a crazy day. I am almost finished with all my work and completely famished. I eat a rice cake (chocolate) to hold me over until the party. So far I have not made very healthy eating choices today.
  • 4:30 P.M.: Finish my work and run across the street to the party store to buy last-minute balloons, tablecloths, and decorations.
  • 5:15 P.M.: Arrive at my aunt’s house. Start setting up.
  • 6:00 P.M.: Food arrives. Start setting up food.
  • 6:30 P.M. to 11:00 P.M.: Party―entertain guests. My mom is very surprised! Don’t get a chance to eat anything until after 9 P.M.
  • 11:00 P.M.: My husband, Craig, leaves with Brenan. I stay and finish cleaning up.
  • 12:00 A.M.: Finished cleaning, I’m exhausted. Stay and have a glass of wine with my aunt, uncle, mom, and dad.
  • 1:30 A.M.: In bed. Finally!
  • 11:00 A.M.: Wake up, exhausted (I swear I never sleep this late), to breakfast in bed, which my son has prepared with the help of his nana. How sweet! Brenan and I share eggs, toast, and juice in bed.
  • 11:15 A.M.: Start a load of laundry and spend time playing with my little sunshine.
  • 12:00 P.M.: Start getting ready for a friend’s daughter’s birthday party at 1 P.M. Where has the time gone? Get dressed quickly. No time to shower. Good thing it’s at a park. Get Brenan dressed.
  • 12:45 P.M.: Out the door. Head to Target to get gift. (I know―I am a procrastinator.)
  • 1:20 P.M.: Purchase gift, gift bag, tissue paper, and card. Quickly put wrapped gift in front seat of car in parking lot. Sign card while stopped at a light. Yikes!
  • 1:35 P.M.: Make it to the park in record speed. I did not bring the invitation or map, so I had trouble finding the party once I got to the park.
  • 1:45 P.M.: Make it to the party and surprisingly I am still one of the first to show up. Mingle with friends and take Brenan to play on the swings.
  • 3:00 P.M.: I know I have to make dinner at 5 P.M., and it will take me a while to get ready, so I start saying my good-byes and try rounding up my little guy. He has become fascinated with a remote-control car, and I have trouble getting him out of there. I use my “I’ll race you to the car” trick. Works every time!
  • 3:45 P.M.: Leave the party. Arrive at house within several minutes and immediately jump in the shower. I really wanted to wash my hair but no time for that. Instead, I put my hair in one of those “messy” updos, throw on a dress and some heels. I ask my husband (who is still outside working in the garden) to help get Brenan (and himself) ready.
  • 4:45 P.M.: I can’t believe we make it out of the house, even though we are still 15 minutes late and need to get gas.
  • 5:10 P.M.: Arrive at dinner (grandparents’ 50th anniversary). We are the last ones to arrive but still manage to make good time.
  • 7:30 P.M.: Say good-bye to family and Brenan, as he is off to his sleepover (at his cousin’s house). Craig and I decide to continue our date and we go grab some drinks.
  • 7:45 P.M.: Arrive at P.F. Chang’s. Call my tax guy from the parking lot and go over last-minute details for our taxes.
  • 8:10 P.M.: Enjoy a few cocktails at the bar.
  • 12:00 A.M.: Get home and get into bed, tired and a little tipsy.

  • 8:00 A.M.: Wake up feeling refreshed. It must have been all that water I downed on my way to bed last night. I feel like going on a walk today.
  • 8:30 A.M.: Start some laundry and get myself and the dogs ready for a nice, long walk.
  • 9:00 A.M. to 10:30 A.M.: Walk with my parents and the dogs all around the neighborhood. What a beautiful day!
  • 10:30 A.M.: Get home and eat brunch. Call my aunt. The kids are up. Let her know I will be by to pick up Brenan in an hour or so. Do some straightening up, sweeping, and dusting.
  • 12:00 P.M.: Head out the door with my mom and dad to my aunt’s house. Stop by Starbucks on the way.
  • 12:30 P.M. to 5:00 P.M.: Spend the rest of the day relaxing in my aunt’s backyard, visiting with my parents, sipping Champagne, and reading a book (for my book club on Wednesday) while the kids play. How relaxing! I feel like a queen.
  • 5:00 P.M.: Call Craig. Discuss dinner plans. I pick up some hamburger meat and buns on the way home. Craig is making his blue-cheese burgers on the grill.
  • 7:30 P.M.: Sit down to dinner with my parents, Craig, and Brenan.
  • 8:30 P.M.: Give Brenan a bath. Multitask and clean the bathroom while he’s in the tub. Brush his teeth and get him in his pj’s. Put on a movie for him.
  • 8:30 P.M.: Watch Across the Universe with my parents. My husband has already fallen asleep on the couch by this point.
  • 9:30 P.M.: Movie ends. Finish up with laundry. Read a few chapters of my book for my book club.
  • 11:30 P.M.: Lights out.
  • 6:50 A.M.: Wake up early enough to wash my hair today, finally! Get dressed. Craig gets Brenan dressed for day care.
  • 8:15 A.M.: Sit down for breakfast this morning with Brenan and Craig. Have some shredded wheat and juice.
  • 8:20 A.M.: Head out the door. I have a 9:30 client interview across town.
  • 8:40 A.M.: Drop Brenan off at day care.
  • 9:20 A.M.: Arrive at the interview location with enough time to prep my client.
  • 11:00 A.M.: Head back to the office after grabbing a cup of coffee.
  • 1:00 P.M.: Grab some sushi for lunch but don’t have enough time and have to eat it at my desk. It has been a very productive day so far.
  • 3:00 P.M.: Craig calls and informs me that his grandma is having a barbecue tonight. See this as an opportunity for free time and bail.
  • 6:15 P.M.: Finish up with work and take a detour on my way home to the mall for some shopping therapy―just for a quick “window” shop.
  • 8:30 P.M.: Arrive home at the same time as Craig and Brenan with evidence in hand. I spent only $150 more than I planned on. But I did get a few new items to update my wardrobe.
  • 9:00 P.M.: Spend time straightening up downstairs and talking with Brenan.
  • 9:30 P.M.: Give Brenan a bath, brush his teeth, get him in his pj’s, and read a few stories.
  • 10:30 P.M.: Get into bed and read a few chapters of my book.
  • 11:30 P.M.: Lights out. I am so tired.

  • 7:30 A.M.: Wake up, dragging. Shower and get ready (not a hair-wash day today). Help get son ready for day care. Craig and I get in a fight. Craig gets Brenan ready for day care. I am feeling a little frustrated. It’s only Tuesday?!
  • 8:15 A.M.: Grab a yogurt for breakfast and a frozen dinner for lunch. Do dishes and start dishwasher.
  • 8:30 A.M.: Head out the door.
  • 9:05 A.M.: Get to work. Attempt to get organized. Still feeling frustrated.
  • 1:00 P.M. to 2:00 P.M.: Eat lunch in the kitchen and talk with coworkers. This workday has not been so productive.
  • 6:15 P.M.: Meet my husband at my in-laws’ house to sign tax documents and ship them out (last-minute). Brenan wants to stay at Grandma’s, so Craig and I take the trip to the post office to drop off our taxes and decide to get some dinner and talk. He’s feeling frustrated and neglected. I’m feeling overwhelmed and stressed. We’re able to have a nice quiet meal and talk things out.
  • 8:30 P.M.: Get home. Watch some American Idol on DVR (the ultimate time-saver).
  • 9:00 P.M.: In-laws stop by to drop Brenan off. Visit with them for a bit.
  • 9:30 P.M.: Get Brenan ready for bed and read him a few stories.
  • 10:30 P.M.: Get ready for bed. Read book in bed.
  • 11:30 P.M.: Lights out.
  • 7:15 A.M.: Wake up, tired as usual. It’s another no-wash hair day today.
  • 8:15 A.M.: Get Brenan ready for day care. No time for breakfast. Grab another frozen dinner for lunch.
  • 8:40 A.M.: Head out the door to take B to day care.
  • 9:10 A.M.: Arrive at work.
  • 10:30 A.M.: Eat an early lunch/late breakfast at my desk. Sandwiches are brought in. Yum!
  • 11:00 A.M.: Go to internal creative meeting.
  • 12:30 P.M.: Head out to run errands during my lunch break.
  • 2:00 P.M. to 3:00 P.M.: Prepare for and attend internal client meeting.
  • 4:45 P.M.: Receive e-mail from management with self-assessment form that needs to be filled out by end of day or first thing tomorrow morning. Print it out and take it home for completion.
  • 6:15 P.M.: Head out the door to the book club (I got only halfway through the book).
  • 8:30 P.M.: Get home from book club. Craig heads to his poker night. Feeling loose after a few glasses of wine. Play with son. Do not feel like working on self-assessment form. Look it over but decide to work on it tomorrow morning.
  • 9:00 P.M.: Give Brenan his bath and get him ready for bed. Read a few books to him in bed.
  • 10:00 P.M.: Watch American Idol and America’s Next Top Model on DVR.
  • 12:15 P.M.: Straighten up living room and head to bed. Attempt to read in bed but decide to just go to sleep.

  • 7:30 A.M.: Wake up late. I wanted to wash my hair today, but it actually looks great. Get dressed and ask Craig to take Brenan to day care to buy me some extra time.
  • 8:30 A.M.: Head out the door. Grab my favorite frozen dinner for lunch and a yogurt for breakfast.
  • 9:00 A.M.: Arrive at work. Get busy on my self-assessment form. Surprisingly, it takes me all morning and part of the afternoon.
  • 1:00 P.M. to 1:40 P.M.: Eat lunch.
  • 2:30 P.M.: Attend my career-development meeting with upper management. I got a promotion! Awesome!!
  • 3:30 P.M.: Finish up my day’s work with an extra pep in my step. Have a popcorn break.
  • 6:05 P.M.: Head out the door. Planned on cooking dinner tonight but was so excited to get home to tell Craig about my promotion that I didn’t feel like going to the grocery store. Had phone call with Dad on the way home. Let them know about the good news.
  • 6:35 P.M.: Get home at a good time for once this week. Play outside with Brenan while Craig spends some time in the garden.
  • 7:00 P.M.: Pick up downstairs and upstairs, pick up toys in Brenan’s room, do laundry, and check and sort through mail. Brenan plays across the street with a neighbor friend.
  • 8:15 P.M.: Read a magazine. Craig is still outside working in the garden.
  • 8:30 P.M.: Coax Craig inside. Decide to go to In-N-Out Burger to grab some dinner. Have a nice dinner with the family. Talk with husband about our financial and career goals.
  • 9:30 P.M.: Get home. Craig gets Brenan in bed and reads him stories while I empty the dishwasher and finish up with the laundry.
  • 11:00 P.M.: Get on the Internet to check on the comforter that I’ve been eyeing. Decide to save money and go to bed. Asleep (kind of) early tonight.

    The advice: Valorie Burton, a life coach in Annapolis, Maryland, and the author of How Did I Get So Busy? (Broadway Books, $13, amazon.com), suggests that for Leslie to feel more in control of her time, she needs to establish her “nonnegotiables”―say, three meals a day, eight hours of sleep a night, two hours of exercise a week, and one night out a week with her husband. She should then work the rest of her schedule around them. To make time, Leslie needs to set limits on things like how much time she’ll spend with her extended family and how much overtime she’ll accept. “A four-day workweek could make a huge difference for her,” Burton says. “At the very least, Leslie should take personal days when she needs them―for example, for planning her mother’s party. That’s what they’re there for.”

Goal: More time to build my fledgling business

Her challenge: A former grade-school teacher who is also a talented seamstress, Kate began making draperies and cushions for interior decorators and other clients from her home about three years ago. “But I can never seem to free up enough time to really get the business off the ground,” she says. Her youngest child is in school only two mornings a week, and with the exception of the occasional babysitter, child care isn’t in the family budget. During the week she kept her time diary, Kate spent fewer than 12 hours on her business, including doing paperwork and installations at clients’ homes. That’s partly because her husband was out of town most of the week. But it’s also because she lavished lots of time on the kids, including 4½ hours volunteering at her oldest son’s school, four hours at a Cub Scouts event, and 2½ hours of PTA meetings. That’s on top of doing the cleaning and laundry and cooking all the family’s meals herself. “The only time I have to sew is when the kids are in bed, and I’m not as productive then because I’m tired and make mistakes,” Kate says. “I’d love to figure out how to devote 20 hours a week to building my business while still being a good mom.”

Kate’s Diary


  • 7:00 A.M.: Get up, get kids up, give kids breakfast, unload dishwasher, take care of Elvis (the dog), skim paper, take Matthew (age eight) to bus stop.
  • 8:00 A.M.: Shower, do breakfast dishes, make beds, clean house.
  • 9:00 A.M.: Drop off Carson (age four) at preschool.
  • 10:00 A.M.: Organize planner and calendar.
  • 11:00 A.M.: Volunteer in Matthew’s classroom.
  • 11:30 A.M.: Lunch, phone calls, e-mail.
  • 12:00 P.M.: Work on drapery business.
  • 3:00 P.M.: Pick up Carson.
  • 3:30 P.M.: Work on business while Carson plays with his toys.
  • 4:00 P.M.: Play with Carson.
  • 4:30 P.M.: Cook, eat dinner with the family.
  • 5:30 P.M.: Clean up.
  • 5:45 P.M.: Give kids their baths.
  • 6:15 P.M.: Freshen hair and makeup.
  • 6:30 P.M.: Go to Matthew’s concert at school.
  • 8:00 P.M.: Put the kids to bed.
  • 8:30 P.M.: TV and fold laundry.
  • 10:00 P.M.: Read.
  • 11:00 P.M.: Bed.
  • 7:00 A.M.: Morning routine (see Thursday).
  • 8:00 A.M.: Make beds, do dishes, clean.
  • 9:00 A.M.: Shower and dress.
  • 9:30 A.M.: PTO board business.
  • 10:00 A.M.: Play with Carson.
  • 11:00 A.M.: Work while Carson plays on computer.
  • 12:00 P.M.: Lunch, dishes.
  • 12:30 P.M.: Read.
  • 1:00 P.M.: Business paperwork.
  • 1:30 P.M.: House paperwork (bills, etc.).
  • 2:00 P.M.: Phone calls, e-mail.
  • 2:30 P.M.: Errands (bank, post office).
  • 3:00 P.M.: PTO board meeting.
  • 5:00 P.M.: Prepare dinner.
  • 5:30 P.M.: Eat dinner.
  • 6:00 P.M.: Clean up, do dishes.
  • 6:30 P.M.: Work on sewing business.
  • 8:00 P.M.: TV.
  • 9:00 P.M.: Fold laundry.
  • 10:00 P.M.: Read.
  • 10:30 P.M.: Bed.

  • 7:00 A.M.: Morning routine.
  • 8:00 A.M.: Dress, put on makeup.
  • 8:30 A.M.: Drop off car at shop.
  • 9:00 A.M.: Cub Scouts Pinewood Derby.
  • 1:00 P.M.: Pick up car.
  • 1:30 P.M.: Pick up house.
  • 2:30 P.M.: Installation at a client’s home.
  • 5:30 P.M.: Prepare dinner, feed kids.
  • 6:00 P.M.: Read paper.
  • 6:30 P.M.: Put Carson to bed.
  • 7:00 P.M.: Dinner with husband. Do dishes.
  • 7:30 P.M.: Caribou Coffee trip for beans.
  • 8:00 P.M.: Read aloud to Matthew.
  • 9:00 P.M.: Read.
  • 10:00 P.M.: TV.
  • 10:30 P.M.: Bed.
  • 7:30 A.M.: Shower, dress.
  • 8:00 A.M.: Morning routine.
  • 8:30 A.M.: Dishes, make beds, pick up.
  • 9:00 A.M.: Meet with realtor (the family is in the process of moving).
  • 11:00 A.M.: Fold laundry, pick up, make lists.
  • 12:00 P.M.: Costco, lunch, grocery.
  • 2:00 P.M.: Put groceries away, arrange flowers.
  • 2:30 P.M.: Yard work.
  • 3:30 P.M.: E-mail, phone.
  • 4:00 P.M.: Work paperwork.
  • 4:30 P.M.: Dinner prep.
  • 5:00 P.M.: Cocktails with my friend Heidi at our house.
  • 6:00 P.M.: Dinner, clean up.
  • 6:30 P.M.: Give Carson a bath and put to bed.
  • 7:15 P.M.: Read Matthew a story.
  • 7:45 P.M.: Put Matthew to bed.
  • 8:00 P.M.: Watch TV.
  • 9:00 P.M.: Surf the Internet.
  • 10:00 P.M.: Read, bed.

  • 7:00 A.M.: Morning routine.
  • 8:00 A.M.: Drive Matthew to school.
  • 8:30 A.M.: Volunteer for assembly at Matthew’s school.
  • 12:00 P.M.: Make lunch for me and Carson, clean up.
  • 12:30 P.M.: E-mail, phone calls.
  • 1:30 P.M.: Play with Carson.
  • 2:30 P.M.: Read.
  • 3:30 P.M.: Paperwork.
  • 4:00 P.M.: Work on a sewing project.
  • 5:15 P.M.: Prepare dinner.
  • 5:45 P.M.: Dinner and dishes.
  • 6:30 P.M.: Give Carson a bath, read him a story, and put him to bed.
  • 7:00 P.M.: Work on computer.
  • 7:30 P.M.: Read Matthew a story.
  • 8:00 P.M.: Put Matthew to bed.
  • 8:15 P.M.: Clean, vacuum, pick up, wash kitchen floor and bathrooms.
  • 9:00 P.M.: TV.
  • 10:00 P.M.: Read, bed.
  • 7:00 A.M.: Morning routine.
  • 8:00 A.M.: Shower, make beds, do dishes.
  • 9:00 A.M.: Drop Carson off at preschool.
  • 9:30 A.M.: Work on business paperwork.
  • 10:00 A.M.: Errands (bank, drugstore).
  • 10:30 A.M.: Go to a client meeting.
  • 11:30 A.M.: Pick up Carson.
  • 12:00 P.M.: Lunch, dishes.
  • 12:30 P.M.: E-mail, phone calls.
  • 1:00 P.M.: Take Carson to the indoor play space at the mall.
  • 3:30 P.M.: Babysitter arrives. I do errands (Target, grocery store, car wash).
  • 5:00 P.M.: Make dinner and clean up.
  • 6:00 P.M.: Bake brownies for friend whose dog died.
  • 6:30 P.M.: Read Carson a story and put him to bed.
  • 7:00 P.M.: E-mail.
  • 7:30 P.M.: Read to Matthew.
  • 8:00 P.M.: Work.
  • 10:00 P.M.: Read and then to bed.

  • 7:00 A.M.: Morning routine, make beds, take Matthew to school.
  • 8:30 A.M.: Go to the gym.
  • 10:30 A.M.: Grocery shopping.
  • 11:00 A.M.: Go to library with Carson.
  • 12:30 P.M.: Make lunch for me and Carson, eat, clean up.
  • 1:30 P.M.: Make appetizer for book club tonight. It’s potluck and at my house.
  • 2:00 P.M.: Work on business.
  • 3:30 P.M.: Make kids’ snacks, clean kitchen, help Matthew with homework.
  • 4:30 P.M.: Make dinner for kids.
  • 5:00 P.M.: Visit with kids while they eat.
  • 5:30 P.M.: Kids’ baths and pj’s.
  • 6:00 P.M.: Read, e-mail.
  • 7:00 P.M.: Hair and makeup, prep hors d’oeuvre for book club.
  • 7:30 P.M.: Read to Matthew.
  • 8:00 P.M.: Book club meets.
  • 12:00 A.M.: Bed.

    The advice: “Is she charging enough for her drapes?” Burton asks immediately. If Kate can earn more per hour than a house cleaner or a babysitter might cost, she can start outsourcing some of what she does now―and free up some serious time. “She’ll grow the business faster and make more money,” Burton adds. She should also consider finding someone else to do the most time-consuming part of her business―the sewing―while she handles the creative planning and marketing. “She has to look at her business as a job,” Burton adds. “If she had a 20-hour-a-week job, there are some things she would simply have to stop doing, like volunteering at school or making a home-cooked dinner every single night.” She needs to get her husband to support her, telling him very specifically how he can help―say, by taking the kids out of the house for a full half day every weekend. Creating periods during which her kids can’t interrupt her will let her work much more efficiently.

Goal: Develop a schedule (and/or simple routine) that allows me to complete tasks in a timely manner without feeling overwhelmed

Her challenge: Laura struggles with the basics of time management. So much so that she had trouble finding time to fill out her diary for this exercise. Though she works a reasonable (though often uneven) schedule, “I never seem to have time to pay bills, do laundry, or get more than five to six hours of sleep,” she says. One big reason: Laura spends up to 25 hours a week doing volunteer work for the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, where she sits on the board and various committees (basically a second job). She’s also a telephone junkie, spending hours talking to family, friends, and people she’s mentoring. And, after keeping the diary, she wrote, “I have learned that I check my two e-mail accounts at least 20 times a day.” She does use a date book, but it’s more of a collection of to-do lists.

Laura’s Diary


  • 9:00 A.M.: Walk Dolly (the dog) around the block.
  • 9:30 P.M.: Check bank-account balance.
  • 10:30 A.M.: Haircut.
  • 11:30 A.M.: Drop clothes at cleaners’.
  • 12:30 P.M.: Arrive at work.
  • 9:00 P.M.: Leave work.
  • 9:30 P.M.: Home, check e-mail.
  • 10:30 P.M.: Dinner (cereal).
  • 11:00 P.M.: Talk to best friend on phone.
  • 11:30 P.M.: Go to bed.
  • 5:00 A.M.: Let Dolly out in yard.
  • 6:00 A.M. to 10:30 P.M.: Work a double shift! (Order in breakfast, lunch, and dinner!)
  • 10:30 P.M.: Leave work.
  • 11:00 P.M.: Let Dolly out, check e-mail, eat dinner.
  • 12:00 A.M.: Bed.

  • 11:00 A.M.: Wake up. Eat cereal, then go back to bed.
  • 2:00 P.M.: Wake up for good.
  • 2:30 P.M.: Volunteer work from home (talking on phone).
  • 5:00 P.M.: Sunday dinner with mom and extended family.
  • 9:00 P.M.: Home, walk Dolly, talk on the phone with friends.
  • 1:00 A.M.: Bed.

    No work!
  • 11:00 A.M.: Walk Dolly.
  • 3:30 P.M.: Wash hair, check e-mail.
  • 5:00 P.M.: Update bank account, call my volunteer mentor (we are planning the New York conference).
  • 7:00 P.M.: Talk with friends on phone.
  • 8:30 P.M.: Eat dinner, play fetch with dog.
  • 9:00 P.M.: Hula hoop and talk on phone.
  • 9:30 P.M.: Check e-mail, bath.
  • 11:00 P.M.: Bed.
  • 6:00 A.M.: Wake up.
  • 7:00 A.M.: Let Dolly out.
  • 8:00 A.M.: Arrive at work.
  • 4:30 P.M.: Leave work.
  • 5:30 P.M.: Walk Dolly.
  • 6:00 P.M.: Dinner out.
  • 8:30 P.M.: Check e-mail, volunteer work, phone calls.
  • 11:00 P.M.: Bath.
  • 11:30 P.M.: Bed.

  • 6:00 A.M.: Wake up.
  • 7:00 A.M.: Let Dolly out.
  • 8:30 A.M.: Work.
  • 5:00 P.M.: Leave work.
  • 5:30 P.M.: Volunteer work conference call.
  • 6:00 P.M.: Play fetch with Dolly.
  • 7:30 P.M.: Rice Krispies for dinner.
  • 8:00 P.M.: Make phone calls for volunteer work, e-mails, text messaging, etc.
  • 11:00 P.M.: Bed.

  • 6:00 A.M.: Wake up.
  • 7:00 A.M.: Take Dolly to the dog run.
  • 8:00 A.M.: Work.
  • 5:00 P.M.: Leave work.
  • 5:30 P.M.: Work on volunteer projects, talk on phone, check e-mail.
  • 7:00 P.M.: Walk Dolly.
  • 8:30 P.M.: Eat at home.
  • 9:00 P.M.: Talk to friends on the phone (three calls!).
  • 1:00 A.M.: Go to bed.

    The advice: “When people are as overwhelmed as Laura is, they perceive that they don’t have enough time,” Burton says. “Sleep deprivation only makes the problem worse.” The solution is twofold: more delegation and stricter organization. Two problem areas Laura mentioned―bill paying and laundry―are easy to simplify. She can automate bill paying online and drop off laundry at a service (they’re plentiful where Laura lives). If she feels it’s too expensive to take all her laundry out, she can use the option when she’s particularly overwhelmed. As for organization, Laura needs to start truly scheduling her time. That means writing down specific blocks of time during which she’ll do volunteer work, for example, and forcing herself to stop when those periods are over. Burton also recommends that Laura schedule the same time every night to go to bed, preceded by a winding-down ritual―say, a relaxing bath and then some light reading. “She has control here,” says Burton. “She just has to take it.”