One of the most challenging aspects of learning how to be effective in your business and your life is knowing how to use your time efficiently. Productivity is one thing, but are you aware of how you use your time?
One of the first steps to doing what matters is understanding the way your time is divided throughout the day.
Where Does the Time Go?
When you look at the American Time Use Survey, you can start to pick out trends. It becomes clear that there is a good chance that, if you are following average habits, you could spend a lot of time doing things that aren’t that productive, useful or even enjoyable. TV seems to take up a lot of Americans’ time.
We always talk about how we wish we had more time, and how it would be nice to accomplish more. While wishing for this time, we often overlook the fact that we are using our time for things that might not help us reach our goals — in business or in life.
Before you lament never having enough time, step back and honestly evaluate what you are currently doing with your time. You might be surprised at how you use your time.
Write Everything Down
If you want to be truly effective in figuring out where your time goes, write it all down. No matter how small or insignificant you think an activity is, write down what you’re doing. Carry a little notebook with you so that you can keep an accurate record.
Anytime you start a task, write down what you are doing, and the current time. When you switch to something else, note the time you stopped, and figure out how many minutes you spent. As you do this, you will start to notice patterns in how you use your time.
You will also see how much time you really spend on certain activities. It might be surprising to find out that the 10 minutes you spend playing Candy Crush five times a day adds up to almost an hour. Even more surprising might be when you said you’d just check Facebook “real quick” and discover that 45 minutes have gone by. Nothing quick about checking Facebook.
You can also use this method to evaluate how effective you are at business activities. Do you find yourself spending a lot of time on items that don’t provide a lot of value? Are there things you could outsource? Could you better use your time focusing on the essential items in your business?
Keeping track of your time use can be an eye-opening experience that allows you to honestly recognize what’s going on with your time and your effort. Whether you wish you had more time to spend with your kids, or whether you wish you could spend more time building your business, you might be shocked to find that you already have the time.
All you have to do is track how you use your time, recognize where there is waste, and then eliminate those activities, while focusing on what really matters.