Many time management resources suggest using a time chart or log as a starting point to see how you are actually using your time as opposed to how you think you are using your time.
- Pinpoint when and how time is wasted
- Determine your peak energy levels
- Calculate the gap between what you believe is important & how you invest your time
- Easily see areas to improve
- Allows you to measure progress with a periodic check
Overcome resistance with curiosity
I know, right? A time audit kind of sounds like a tedious task. Despite knowing all the benefits, it was hard to get excited about adding this to my list of things to do until I saw this chart with the daily routines of famous creative people from Podio. It sparked my curiosity to see how my daily routine compared. I quickly saw that I was taking too long to get going in the morning, and failing to use my most productive time for important tasks.
So how does your day compare?
Does the idea of a routine sound boring as well? The most productive people follow a routine to make the most of their time. A flexible routine automates tasks to free attention for more important matters.
The Daily PlanIt Time Use Chart (pdf) is a free printable chart for a time audit.
Color in a Chronodex; I love this one from artist Kate Smith.
A simple free printable time chart for a week at studenthandouts.com.
There are also apps and software for tracking time use: 10 Time-Tracking Apps That Will Make You More Productive in 2014 from Fast Company.
Laura Vanderkam, author of the book “168 Hours,” offers a free spreadsheet to track time.
See where you spend your online time with options like the Limitless extension for the Chrome browser.
- Quadrant I (Important/Urgent): includes Repeating tasks, recurring, routine tasks
- Quadrant II (Important/Not Urgent): includes Goals and planning
- Quadrant III (Urgent/Not Important): includes Distractions, interruptions
- Quadrant IV (Not Urgent/Not Important): includes Time wasters
Chart Energy Levels
Our high energy time should be used for high priority tasks and projects that require creativity and thought. Notice patterns for physical and mental energy and how it varies throughout the day and week. Use this information when scheduling activities. Another way to look at your energy use is the Energy Level Gauge tool at How Are Your Energy Levels. It is an easy way to see which of twelve life areas need more attention.
Time and energy are limited resources. Make the most of them!