Time tracking with a time log is much more
than a boring exercise in book keeping.
If you approach it right, it will become a
very effective time management
learning tool. A few minutes of writing and
analyzing your time and activity logs will
eliminate many hours of wasted time.
Embrace the reality of your personal
Unless this has already happen to you before,
your time log is more than likely to surprise
you. You will see how much time is wasted in
many unexpected ways. Often it appears that
the busier you feel the more time is wasted.
Another important discovery is how much
time things really take. One of the most
common problems in personal time management
is underestimating the time needed for each
specific activity. First this is one of the
reasons why planning and scheduling do not
seem work well for
some people. If you always expect much more
than you can fit in your time, than
writing plans and to do lists just gets
you more stressed.
Get a realistic picture of your time and
you will feel much more in control.
In fact, you will move much faster with
Preparing and writing your time log
You don't need to keep writing
a time log permanently. It is sufficient
to do it for 3-7 days, and repeat this
procedure time after time. Yet, when you
write a time log, make sure you don't miss any even
minor activity. Don't let your time wasters
to hide there.
So that not to waste much time on writing
time tracking records, take a little
preparation step. Take a sheet of paper
and divide it into columns named like
Then continue with activities you would
normally do that day. On the way, update
your time log. Do it either every time you
switch to new activity or at some
short time intervals, like 10-20 minutes.
Add entries to your "Time" and "Activities"
column, and try to put marks like "Yes"
or "No" in the "Scheduled", "Interrupted",
and "Urgent" columns. Where relevant,
make short notes on what people you spend
time with too.
What does your time log tell you?
When you have your time log written, you can move to the most important part, the analysis. Review your records and try to get answers to the following questions.
What percentage of your time is spent in each of different areas of your life? How is it divided between Work, Business, Family, Recreational, Spiritual, Health?
What percentage of your activities are important?
What people you spend more time with?
What percentage of your activities go as planned?
What are main interruptions?
Then think of possible adjustments
and action steps. For example:
Are there any activities you can cut back on?
Is there anything you can delegate or simplify?
Can you save time by grouping related tasks, like shopping?
It will get you over the psychological
Have you ever tried to convince anyone
to change their view of him- or herself?
Was it easy? We often feel resistance to
external judgments of our personality or
habits. It is much easier to accept a change
if we discover things for ourselves, if the
judgment is our own.
Something similar happens with time spending
habits. When you discover how you really
spend your time, and do it yourself from
your own time log, you will feel much more
comfortable when changing your
time management attitudes and habits.
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