Let’s get even more serious about creating a way to track how you spend your time. You may think that you have it all down, but you probably don’t. Most of us get into habits of doing something just because we always have done it that way, not realizing how much time we’re really wasting.
Get a Time Tracker
One way to get down and dirty about your time is to get a time tracker suck as Toggl.com. This is a free time tracking software that will help you learn and understand exactly how you’re spending your time. You can also use software like Basecamp.com, or Freshbooks.com, which both come with time tracking software. One thing that’s nice about Freshbooks is that you can write in what you are doing with the time you’re tracking and keep it right on your desktop.
It helps if you’re willing to track everything – whether it’s work-related or not. Track everything you do 24 hours a day for 7 days. Note on the things you do whether it was leisure (and if you really had fun or not) or work-related (and if it was productive or not). Also, note whether it was a last-minute thing, planned, or not. This is going to help you when you go back and look to find out how many things were planned versus what wasn’t planned.
Put it in a Spreadsheet
One way to look at this is to put it into a spreadsheet so that you can look at everything, clearly, at a glance. One way to do this is to simply create it based on the days of the week, then color code the activity so you know if it’s personal, family, or business-related. That will help you see how your day goes. You can even create a color for interruptions or unplanned activities so that you can see when that is happening.
Fill in a Calendar After the Fact
Using the information you collected keeping track, you can also use a calendar that has the times in it that you need to fill in what you’ve done after the fact. That way you can see it down on paper. The only way to truly figure out what to do to get control of your schedule and create smart routines that get results is to figure out where you are right now based on reality.
When you understand where you are right now with your routine, you’ll be able to figure out where you can fix the issues that are going wrong with the routine. You may notice, for example, that during certain times you’ve set aside to work, there are never-ending interruptions. When you realize that, you can restructure that time so that you aren’t interrupted by setting something in place to prevent it, or instead do the tasks that seem more natural during that time that are causing the interruptions.
Routines aren’t supposed to be traps. They should be flexible and easily changed when it’s important. And, you should be able to tell when it’s a good time to change something and when it’s a good time to say no about changing it. If you know down to the last detail how your day is going, then it’s going to be easier to add or subtract things to make your day more productive.