Do you know where your time really goes? Yesterday, we posted about creating and using a time log to track your time for a few days.
Note in 15 minute increments what you do throughout the day and be brutally honest. Remember, you are just trying to raise your awareness here, not trying to impress anyone. The more honest you are on paper about how you spend your time (the tasks and activities that you engage in as well as the duration of time you spend on any one task or activity), the more useful your time log will be.
Once you have tracked your time for a few days, take time to to review & analyze your log. Look for time wasters; tasks that weren’t the best use of your time, tasks you did to avoid doing the tasks you were really supposed to be doing, or tasks that took much longer than you thought they should or would.
Identify unneccesary, low priority or low value tasks that you spent time on and consider whether or not you could eliminate them, reduce the time you spend doing them, or delegate them to someone else, all of which would free up more of your time to do the things that only you can do.
Were you surprised at how you are really spending your time? Once you have taken the time to identify the time wasters, the next step is to take action:
- What tasks can you delegate to someone else so you can spend your time on those tasks only you can do? Identify the task, define the skill set needed and then pick the right person for the job. Clarify with them what needs to be done, the outcome you expect and by when the task should be complete. Make sure that you’re not doing tasks someone else could or should be doing for you. For example, if you have an administrative assistant, let them take care of the administrative tasks (data entry, scheduling, travel arrangements, etc.). When you spend time on these types of tasks, it is not the best use of your time.
- How can you minimize time spent on certain tasks? Is there something you can learn to do faster? Do you have a lot of reading for work? Would employing some speed reading techniques save you time? Can you chunk tasks together to get them done more efficiently? For example, only check your email three times a day and process your email each time, instead of all throughout the day. Minimize distractions as well when you’re focused on your higher priority work. Turn off email notifcations, silence your cell phone so your messages can go straight to voicemail, use a “do not disturb” sign on your office door for periods of time, etc..
- What time wasters can you eliminate completely during your day (or only use as “rewards” during defined breaks)? Consider posting a “not to do” list of things you’d like to stop doing in order to increase your productivity. You might include things such as surfing the internet without a purpose, spending time on social networks unless they are for a specific work-related purpose (again, perhaps during breaks is fine if this gives you something to look forward to after focusing for a certain period of time), reading periodicals that don’t add value to the work you do, etc..
You time log will raise your awareness about how you spend your time. Once you identify things you can eliminate, minimize or delegate, you’ll find you have more time available for the high prioritity tasks and work that will help you accomplish your goals and achieve the results you’re after.
Let us know if you need help reviewing your time log. We can help you identify time wasters and help you come up with solutions for how to use your time more efficiently.
For the month of February we are offering “A Shot of Time Management” Package. Check back tomorrow for details of this Timely package.