We all know what it feels like to slave away at work all day long and still have the feeling like we didn’t accomplish what we wanted. Many hours spent, but feeling like there’s not much to show for it. Worse than that are those days and weeks where you feel like you are just constantly putting out fires and barely staying above water. Unfortunately, this describes a common day for many, where results are undermined and time and money is wasted.
I never took a time management class in school or learned key skills to help me manage my time better, and I am sure you didn’t either. Yet, without the right skills and proper tools, each day can feel like a constant struggle and it really doesn’t need to be this way.
The problem in fact, is not a lack of time, but rather a lack of skills and tools to manage time more effectively. Most people don’t even know how they spend their time; let alone, how to optimize it. If you want to finally master your time, free up hours a week, and feel more in control of your results, it is easier than you think.
Here are two simple and very effective steps you can take:
1. Face the hard truth (Seeing is believing)
Imagine what it would be like to have an extra half a day a week. Did you know that you can do this by making a small improvement of 10% in how you spend your time? That is an extra 6 minutes an hour which is an extra half a day per week!
The only way to create more time for yourself is to face up to the hard truth of how you’re currently spending it. The most effective way to do this is to track what you work on and see how your days fill up.
Spending a lot of time in an effort to optimize your time defeats the purpose. I’m a huge fan of using the time tracking tool Klok because I can quickly and easily see where I’ve spent my time. Klok takes the headache out of time management and instead makes it enjoyable.
Using Klok’s simple work timer, capture the different tasks you work on as you go about your day and do this for at least a week. Include your coffee breaks, those office chats or social media distractions. Don’t leave anything out, otherwise at the end of the day, you’ll only be cheating yourself. You’ll begin to see your blind spots, your time thieves as well as opportunities to increase productivity and optimize your time.
I love this tool because the visual calendar and dashboard reports make it so easy to see the total time spent on different tasks and compare how I actually spent my time against how I intended to spend my time.
The next step is to put your thinking cap on and strategize the best ways to optimize your time now that you know where it is going.
2. Strategize the best ways to avoid burning daylight
We all have 24 hours a day, what you decide to do with those 24 hours is going to be the difference between getting the results you want in the time you want or not.
Think about going to the gym, if you want to see results in a shorter time, you need to have an exercise regime that is designed specifically to get the results you want. You will never achieve the same results if you simply go the gym and just follow the motions without a clear program. The same is true for time management.
If you want more time, money, better results and higher productivity, start optimizing your time more. Now that you know where your time is being spent, you can start to make decisions on how to better optimize your time and become more productive.
To get you thinking more strategically, ask yourself the following key questions.
- Where does most of your time go?
- How productive are you overall?
- Are you spending more time on certain tasks than you should?
- What is one small change you can make to your time that will make the biggest difference for you right now?
Klok’s dashboard reports and visual calendar display provide information in a graphical format which make it easier to answer these questions and identify opportunities to optimize your time better. You can also gain valuable insights by comparing estimates against actual time spent and use the information to improve overall time management which will result in more free time for you.
Tracking, analyzing and strategically optimizing how you spend your time is an on-going exercise, but one which will undoubtedly add hours to your weeks, add days to your months and over time, add months to your years.
Nobody else is going to create the results you want in life, you decide every day by how you spend your time.
“You can’t make up for lost time. You can only do better in the future.” – Ashley Ormon