What is a time audit and do you need one? If you feel unproductive, overwhelmed and like there is not enough time in the day to grow your business, get exercise and spend time with loved ones, then you probably need a time audit.
This is one of the tools I started using recently with my coaching clients. I kept hearing concerns about time flying, too much to do, to-do lists a million miles long and being overwhelmed by all the tasks necessary to grow their business.
So I ask them to do a time audit. A time audit is simply tracking your time for at least one work week, from the moment you get up in the morning until you go to bed at night. There are several simple ways to do this.
If you are familiar with my work, you know I like the most creative way, which usually involves pen and paper! Hmmm, and maybe a ruler. I created this quick sample and my mind’s eye wants straighter lines 🙂
- Create a chart, either on a sheet of paper or in your journal (my preference, then I am more likely to keep track of it.)
- Use the attached Word document or create a spreadsheet in Excel or Google docs to track online.
- Finally, there are a variety of apps for your smart phone that make this simple as well for those of you who love technology. My client Kristina Bengston recommends ATracker. It’s easy to use and creates beautiful, colorful graphs and charts for how you are spending your time.
Some experts recommend tracking your time in 15 minute increments. This would drive me crazy but would be very thorough. I chose to use 30 minute increments. You could also track tasks and pay attention to how much time they they take. Some tasks seem overwhelming to start but don’t take as long as you think once you actually sit down to do them.
Here’s what Kristina said she realized from tracking her time: “I’m learning that I’m spending more time on my business than I thought plus what activities I am focusing on. I can see where I need to spend more time on activities like networking, follow ups, supporting team members, social networking, etc. I am also learning where I want more balance in my life. I need to spend more time with friends which fills me up so I have more energy and enthusiasm to give to my business.”
Another client, Brittany Allen, who is an amazing graphic designer, realized she was spending too much time checking email and not leaving herself enough long periods of time to do the creative work for her clients. This was causing her tons of stress and frustration. We made a few simple tweaks to her calendar and put a system in place where should would only check her email a few times a day. This is a challenging habit to keep, for me too, but I know that it works.
In fact, as I work on this blog post, I have my email open and am spending time going back and forth between writing and a conversation about scheduling an upcoming meeting. Doh! Just shut it down and am focusing on getting this post done, now! Can you relate?
We all tend to multitask, which isn’t very helpful for creatives. That’s why a time audit can be an awesome tool for helping you to see where you are spending your time. I encourage you to give a try, even just a for a couple of days, to get a sense of what you are focusing on, what you are missing and what you should celebrate!
In next week’s post I want to talk about managing your to do-list. I have talked about this before; I am not a fan of giant to-do lists and will share some simple ways to increase productivity.
Would love to hear your thoughts about conducting a personal time audit. Have you done one before? Do you think you would benefit from doing one?
Copyright: sifotography / 123RF Stock Photo