Time management is tough. Where did the time go? Whether you’re wondering about the last hour, day, week, month, quarter or year, time flies. And too often we don’t have as much to show for it as we hoped. So how do we capture time and put it to better use?
- First, be brutally honest about how you are really spending your time. For at least a week, log every work hour, listing what you have done. Break the hour into tenths; a project that takes one hour and ten minutes, for example, can be listed as 1.2 hours. Each tenth of an hour is 6 minutes; round your time spent to the nearest tenth hour.
- Log interruptions separately. If you’ve worked two hours on a proposal, but had three telephone calls for five minutes each, and spent ten minutes doing emails, log .3 hours for phone, .2 hours for email and 1.5 hours for the proposal.
- At the end of the day, review your productivity and assess your time management profile.
- How many hours were really productive? How many were not?
- What are your personal time traps?
- What can you do to increase productivity?
- When will you do it?
It’s hard to change old habits, and time management habits are among the most stubborn. Social media is seductive and chatting at the coffee maker is relaxing. But small changes can yield big results. Push yourself to make one small change. Make it permanent, and add another. Often, just tracking your time is a wake-up call to greater efficiency. Take a look, take action, and be satisfied that you’ve used time wisely!