Keeping a Time Log

Do you ever wonder where the time goes? Are you a manager and wonder how your people are spending their time? A great way for self reflection or to spot check the focus of your team is to keep a time log for a week.

It is a simple project. Just take a spreadsheet and label the days of the week across the top and the time you want to track in 15 or 30 minute increments down the side (depending on how detailed you want to be). Set an alarm (cell phone alarm, egg timer, watch alarm) for the top of each hour. When the alarm goes off (We know that this is an interruption – it is just for a week), stop what you are doing and record a detail of what you have done over the last hour – an entry for each 15 or 30 minute segment. We realize that it is an annoyance and a hassle. But, the result and the information that you can gather is very telling.

At the end of the week, review the week's activities. For fun, total up the amount of time you are spending in similar activities/categories like: meetings, returning calls, email, working on the XYZ report, talking with customers, eating meals, taking breaks, etc. You may be surprised at the totals. You also might be surprised at the time that you have wasted. Be honest with yourself – look at the spreadsheet and total up the time that you feel like you have been less than productive. Have your team do the same.

Now what are you going to do about it? Ask yourself these questions:

  • What activities are getting the bulk of my time? Are they the most important activities?

  • How can I alter what I am doing to become more efficient as well as focused on the most important items?

  • What activities can be eliminated? What activities need to be added or receive a bigger allotment of my time?

  • How much time am I spending in my work ring, my self ring and my relationship ring?

If you like this activity, try it for a month. It will give you a good indicator on how effectively you are using your time. Remember the quote from Ben Franklin, "Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that's the stuff life is made of."