Track your time
A time diary is an awareness tool to improve both your understanding of exactly where you are spending your most precious resources.
This simple tool helps reveal:
- how we live our priorities through our schedule
- how we can and should balance our time
- how we can manage our time more effectively to improve habits
Step 1: Make a time diary
Grab a piece of paper, a notebook, or open a spreadsheet. And make sure you have a clock or watch nearby at all times. Or you can use a time tracking app, such as Toggl or Hours Keeper for iPhone /Android . In 15-minute increments (or using your phone’s hours timer), track how you spent your time today.
SAMPLE TIME DIARY
- 6:30 Wake up
- 6:45 Shower, get dressed
- 7:00 Breakfast
- 7:30 Leave for work
- 7:30 – 8:45 Commuting
- 9:00 At work
- 9:00 – 10:15 Working
- 10:15 Coffee break
And so on for the rest of the day.
Step 2: Observe and analyze
Once you’ve finished your time diary, take a look at it. Add up the time spent on various tasks. For example:
- 9 hours – at work (total)
- 4 hours – at work, actually working
- 5 hours – at work, cruising Facebook
- 30 minutes – at work, hanging out with coworkers talking about reality TV
- 2 hours – at work, making doodles in a meeting
- 5 hours – commuting
- 5 hours – TV
- 1 hour – workout
And so on.
Now, ask yourself:
- How am I spending my time?
Look at the time spent on all tasks.
- What are my top priorities for my health and in life?
What is important to me — what brings me joy?
If you aren’t sure what your life priorities are, this is a good time to think about them. What are you priorities with your health? Your health affects all areas of your life so for most people this is key
- How much time am I really spending on my top priorities?
Does your schedule reflect your values?
- What are my “time-suckers”?
Time-suckers are things that take up time, but don’t really benefit you. This could be standing in a lineup, watching TV, cruising the internet, being physically at work but not doing anything productive, etc.
- Given this, what could I change about my schedule so that my time reflects my top priorities? What might you need to change or adjust?
Improving your awareness of time spent changes your behaviour.
Step 3: Consider change
- Do fewer things, but with more focus?
Creating a priority list will help you decide what to do first.
- Cut down one “time sucker”?
If necessary, use a timer. Decide in advance that you’ll spend 10 minutes on Facebook page, or watching videos and no more. When that alarm goes off, you’re done.
- Ask for help? Delegate?
Its hard to do but is there something you can give to someone else
- Uni-task instead of multi-task?
Studies show that contrary to what you might expect, doing ONE thing at a time, with your full attention, works much better than trying to juggle a bunch of stuff at once.
- Plan and prepare more effectively?
For instance, an hour of food prep time on the weekend might be worth five hours of free time during the week.
- Let one small responsibility or task go?
Check your “time sucker” list to see if there’s something that’s easy to dump.
- Find one small way to chase your joy?.
Do you love running? Paint by numbers? Philately? Learning ancient Sanskrit? How could you juggle your schedule to do more of that?
See if you can add 15 minutes of something important while removing 15 minutes of something unimportant. Or, see if you can give a task your undivided attention for a full 5–10 minutes without checking email.
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