Have you ever seen one of those time-lapse video’s in a bus station or maybe in a big city intersection? Everybody is flying all over the place in this jumbled mess of massive activity. They all have somewhere to go or something to do, but when you look at it from that level, it looks like something that borders on chaos.
This is how our day can look when we glance back at it and wonder were all our time went and why we didn’t get all of our stuff done. We see a mass busy-ness with what seems like a lot of productive activity.
When you slow it down, zoom in and see what actually happened, you notice, there’s one person in the train station who walked up to the newsstand and stayed there for about 30 minutes, just flipping through magazines. You notice another person who ran into a friend and 40 minutes later, said farewell and continued on.
This is what happens in our day. From a distance, it’s a mass of activity, but when we really look closer, we see the Devil in the details.
Start An Activity (or Productivity) Journal
If you ever want to know why you can’t lose weight, even though it seems like you’re trying, start a food journal.
Write down every single thing you eat and what time you ate it. Make sure you record the quantity as well. There are apps that can do this for you, including one I like called MyFitnessPal. You can use it to see if you’re staying within your calorie goals and if your macro nutrients (Protein, Fat and Carbohydrates) are in alignment with your desired diet plan (I won’t get into what I think is best… too controversial).
The same thing is often recommended when someone starts a household budget … and certainly with every business, they need to be tracking where every dollar goes and comparing it to their budget.
In households, you start by writing down EVERY penny you spend. Do it for a given period of time so you can capture as many of the infrequent items as possible. Today, we have apps like MINT which will do this automatically. Just make sure you’re assigning everything to a category and you’re including your cash expenses.
If this works for food and for money, it will work for time as well. But I’ve only met a handful of people who take the time to do this. Most people believe their too busy to spend the time it would take to write down everything they do all day long, for a few days.
BUT, I DON’T HAVE TIME
Honestly, you don’t have time because you don’t take the time to figure out where your time is going.
I was reading about someone who broke their day up into 6 minute blocks and wrote it all out on a sheet of paper and then started filling out where each 6 minutes went. 10 blocks per hour.
You can even set a reminder on your smartphone to ask “what have you been doing the last 6 minutes.
Maybe 6 minutes is too detailed… don’t let that stop you. Begin by looking at every 15 minutes just four times per hour. If it’s really tough, do 30 minute increments.
I think anything bigger than that wouldn’t give you a clear idea of what happens with your time.
You only have to do this for a few days.. a week at the MOST and it will give you SO much insight, you’ll instantly know where your time is going and you’ll be able to adjust what you expect from yourself each day.
Categorize The Results
Break down your results into several different categories.
I would definitely include something called “LOST TIME.” This is down time that wasn’t intentional. You just saw someone in the hallway and you started to chat about the NBA finals or something. Next thing you know, 20 minutes are gone.
Some other suggested categories are:
- Phone Calls
- Answering Email
- Rest Time (intentional)
- Family Time
You may have a few others that work for you.
Tools to Use
There are some great tools you can use to keep track of this, but honestly, I’m going to keep those for Friday’s episode.
Call to Action
Do this today… even if it’s just during your work hours, write down what you’re doing every 6, 10, 15, 20, or even 30 minutes. Take action
Also, go back to episode 66. I talk about creating a Time Budget. It’s really the next step after doing today’s project.