Do you get to the end of the day, the week, or the month and wonder where your time went?
Do you often say, “I don’t have time!”
Do you plan a productive day and then wonder why you got only ½ your list done?
And when that happens, I pull out my favorite tool.
A tool most people hate, but I love. I love it because of the information I get from it.
Do you want to know what that tool is?
Wait for it
Will you promise not to run away when I tell you?
A time study.
I hear you groaning.
Don’t go! Hear me out.
I did time studies in my corporate life, and they were mainly done to see how long tasks took.
I think that is a great reason to do time studies. However, it is not the reason I often do time studies.
I do time studies to see WHERE my time is going.
Often, I do them using an excel spreadsheet. I track my tasks in 15-minute increments. Using a few of my favorite excel formulas, I track my time by category. Then compare it to an ideal/budget week.
I have also done them using pen and paper. I’m currently looking into using the online calendar itself by putting my actual time in the calendar, and I thought maybe this might save me some time. We shall see.
Regardless of how you capture the data, I really recommend you do it.
By tracking activities by category, I can get a lot of information. For example, how much time do I spend on my business vs. on other non-business-related tasks (such as housework/errands or social)?
I will track how much time I’m spending working ON my business vs. IN my business.
How much time do I waste on purposeless social media scrolling or games?
Tacking my time like this has given me ah-ha’s. For example, I could see from my time tracking that I was getting distracted by checking email. Now I aim to check email only a couple of times a day. It helps me stay focused and stops me from wasting time starting and stopping.
I have also used it to evaluate things that are taking up too much of my time. Can they be eliminated, delegated, or automated in some way?
One thing I like to do is budget where I want my time to go. What my ideal week looks like and compare to actual. Then I can evaluate why there is a difference. Is it a one-time thing, or do I have to look at something?
For example, I am a caregiver for a family member. I allocate a certain amount of time each week for this role. On weeks I feel overly overwhelmed or stressed out, I will often see that the time in the caregiver role is higher than usual. Thus that role pulled me away from other tasks.
This may mean we need to re-adjust responsibilities, get more help, or find other new ways to manage things.
Regardless, if you often wonder where your time goes or why you can’t get it all done, do a time study. You might be surprised at how much information you can get from paying attention and recording where you spend your time.
Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.William Penn
Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.
The goal of every entrepreneur is to build a successful business.
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