Where does my time go?
Before we can start to change our time management habits we need to understand the context in which things are going wrong. We need to have an accurate insight into the choices we make on a daily basis which are sabotaging our good intentions. We need to look for pattens of ineffective behaviour and opportunities to change. This starts with a diagnostic. It’s a simple tool but will require a little discipline.
For a few days you need to map out the tasks you undertake to build a better picture of the context in which your time management is failing. There are levels of sophistication to this diagnostic. At a basic level, you simply track what you are doing at a given time. You can decide how detailed to make your time map – it might be in chunks of 10 minutes, 30 minutes, hourly or daily (I’d probably steer you away from the latter – you aren’t going to get an accurate enough picture).
You can add to the diagnostic with additional reflection points:
- What did I want to be doing at this point?
- Who or what has prevented me from doing more important things at this time?
- Is this a time of the day at which I perform well or do have difficulty motivating myself?
- What would help me to be more productive or prioritise better at this point of the day?
A sample time monitoring grid is available below, but will need to be adapted to cover the routine of your working week and the level of detail you want to analyse. I’ve put in 20 minute chunks in a 9-5 day – this isn’t meant to imply this is the right breakdown, it’s just one that fits nicely into an A4 page.
If you’ve done this in advance of attending a time management/lightening the load workshop, the completed analysis will help you to choose the best strategies from the ones we discuss. If you are doing this on your own, there are other resources around the site: