Have you ever thought that there weren’t enough hours in the day? Do you find it difficult to keep on top of your to-do list? You’re not alone. Despite all the time-saving technology now at our disposal, time management remains an issue for many of us. It is one of the main challenges freelancers have to face everyday.
The following time log exercise will help you to gain insights about your own time management. A time log is a written record of how you spend your time during the day, and in particular during your working hours. It will help you to understand exactly how you use your time, and to identify activities that are unproductive or of low value. It will also give you a clearer idea of the times when you are most productive during the day.
Keeping a time log
Keeping a time log for a few days (ideally for a whole week) can be quite eye-opening! To help you with this exercise, I have provided a template on page 2 of this free downloadable PDF. Please print this template as many times as you need, and add a new entry each time you start a new activity (e.g. emailing, translating, invoicing, making coffee, Internet, phone calls, etc.). Please include all activities, even if they are not work-related.
Note down a brief description of the activity, the time of the change, and how you feel (alert, tired, energetic, etc.). Then, at the end of the day, or at a convenient time, note the duration of each activity, as well as its level of importance (high, medium, low) based on how far it contributed to achieving your professional goals.
Analysing your time log
Once you have completed your time log, review it against your professional goals.
What aspects of your time management are working well for you?
How is this supporting your goals?
When are you most productive during the day?
When do you feel most alert/energetic?
What aspects of your time management are not working for you?
Which activities were of low importance?
Which activities didn’t help you to meet your goals?
When are you least productive/alert/energetic during the day?
What insights have you gained about your own time management?
Which activities could be eliminated?
Which activities/tasks could be delegated?
Which activities could you do at a more suitable time? (Think about scheduling challenging/important tasks for the time of the day when you feel your best, and lower energy tasks, such as replying to emails or returning calls, for the time of the day when you feel less energetic.)
Which activities could/should take less time?
What could you do less often? What could you do more often?
What will you commit to doing differently as a result of this exercise?
If you would like to learn more time management techniques, come and join me at one of my time management workshops. For updates about my workshops, don’t hesitate to follow me on Twitter and Facebook. You can also contact me here to discuss the possibility of organising another workshop in your area. I promise it will be time well spent!
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