Why audit your week (assess how you spend your time)?
Auditing how you spend your time can be both eye opening and motivating. Many of us assume that we are wisely utilizing our time throughout the days and weeks of the year but reality is often quite different than our expectations. There are many benefits to completely understanding how you spend your time.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
First, you can see on paper whether the actions you take are moving you towards your goals. Second, you can identify where you are wasting time. And lastly, you can identify patterns in your behavior that are either beneficial or damaging.
Auditing your time will keep your goals and your vision for your life front and center in your mind. By seeing how you spend your time, you can take action in order to be in congruence with your stage of life. Maybe one of your goals is to lose weight. But, after you perform your audit, you notice that you are sitting down most of the day or not exercising enough. Or, even more likely, that you are spending 3 hours a day watching television. When you are tracking your activities, what you are and are not doing is put in front of you.
Seeing how you spend your time is often enough motivation to push you to make changes. Just like that, you can consciously change your behaviors (and continue to track them) once you see how you spend your time. One of my favorite lines is ‘what gets measured gets managed,’ often attributed to Peter Drucker. I like to add ‘and achieved’ at the end of that line because I believe it to be more accurate and motivating.
At some level, I think we all know that we waste time. Perhaps you’ve never really wondered how much time you spend watching television or playing video games. But, if after tracking your time you notice that you are spending more time doing those than sleeping, you will know you have a problem. There is nothing wrong with video games, certainly, but a lack of sleep will mess with your health.
But where this activity tracking comes in most handy is that, not only can we identify HOW we are wasting time, we can learn HOW MUCH and WHEN. Do you notice that your productivity drops after eating? Is it only after eating certain foods or large quantities? Just knowing that those things are a problem will help you manage your productivity. Are you more productive in the evening? Save the bulk of your work for then and do the more fun/creative endeavors in the morning.
WHAT DO I DO AFTER TRACKING MY TIME?
Once you track your time, there are a lot of things that you can do to be more productive. The short answer is that you can analyze your current activities and make changes where needed. Said another way, you can figure out what you are doing, when you’re doing it, how much you’re doing it, and then adjust your time so that you spend it more on important activities.
Look at how you spend your days, your week, your mornings vs. your evenings, etc. Do you like the activities that you see? Do they make sense? Is there something that you see yourself doing more than you thought? Just seeing the ‘what’ may give you ideas for change.
Does the time of day affect your productivity? Do you see common times of the day where you procrastinate or where you are incredibly productive? Perhaps there are certain types of activities that you do well at certain times and not others. Use it. Plan around it.
Do you see that you are spending an inordinate amount of time watching television? How about not enough time working on that novel that you want to write? When you add up the time you spend doing each activity during the course of the week, you may be amazed, or horrified, by what you find. Total time is not something that we typically track well without some sort of tool or process. For more on tracking your time, please see the Tracking Your Time Exercise.
By tracking your time, you are able to see where to make changes. You have an accurate map of where you are today. Once you know where you are coming from, it will be easier to get where you want to go. That is how maps work.
I hope I have convinced you to try this activity at least once. You will get the most benefit out of doing this once every 2 or 3 months but I will be excited if this post gets you to do it even once. What was the most surprising thing that you found? What changes will you make?