Management
The Importance of Knowing Where Your Time Goes?
August 21, 2010
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Ask any 20 people about the pressures of time. They will likely respond with the typical stories of: I am missing deadlines, I work long hours, I am not spending enough time with family or friends, or I just can’t seem to get everything done. A common reason is that there just isn’t enough time.

“Where does my time go?”, one person asked me. He was one of the few to have the discipline to find out.

A time log will tell you where you are spending your time, which will give you greater power in taking control of your time.

For example, think of your current household budget. It is very hard to plan and control your future spending if you don’t have a clear idea of your current spending habits. The same goes for spending your time.

A time log gives you an honest and objective benchmark of your time. How much time are you currently spending in meetings, surfing the web, talking on the phone, watching TV?

You may be surprised or even shocked at the information a time log gives you.

A client of ours, Kathy who is a university professor, was having trouble doing her core tasks at university, which was teaching and publishing. Kathy used a time log for three days, and realized that little of her time was spent doing her top priority tasks.

Actually, Kathy was shocked to see that 3 hours of her day was spent dealing with phone calls and emails on largely administrative tasks. No wonder she didn’t have enough time in the day to get her work done.

After completing her time log, Kathy realized that she could easily delegate the administrative tasks to her secretary – which has freed up 3 hours a day for more productive work.

The point I am trying to make is that a time log will show you opportunities for improvement in managing your time. It is one of the first and most important steps in time management.

In fact, it would be tedious and boring, if it was not for the insights that a time log can give you.

A time log will show you whether your time usage reflects your priorities. For example, are you spending a large amount of your time on your key functions or important tasks?

A time log will show you what your biggest time wasters are. For Kathy, it was mundane and routine administrative tasks that could have easily been delegated. For other people it is poor procrastination habits or constant interruptions – everyone is different.

A time log will show you whether your work can be done in a better way. For example an analyst that we were working for was writing the same reports each month. We advised that he develop Excel macros that could automate the creation of these recurring reports.

The point is that there are three ways that you can make better use of your time. These are to work on higher priority tasks, get somebody to do some of what you are doing now, or be more efficient in the use of your time.

A time log can get you to focus on these different areas and improve your personal effectiveness.

By: Kell Shaun

About author

Dr Shailesh Thaker

Dr. Shailesh Thaker is a world-renowned management thinker and trainer on organizational behavior and development. He is the CLO of Knowledge Plus Inc., a highly reputed training firm based in Ahmedabad, India, helping organizations to achieve international benchmarks in management practices.

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