The secret start to controlling your days begins with tracking your time. You may have been looking for a magic wand or secret blue pill however it really comes down to knowing exactly where you are starting.
This step is often skipped because it doesn’t feel important enough. People assume they already know where they are spending their time however they truly only have a basic idea.
Why track your time
For many moms tracking their time is just another thing to add on their to do list. It is frustrating and they may not understand why this is so important. Tracking your time can be an eye opening experience that gives you a starting point. Just like having a clear destination you need a clear starting point.
Still, tracking your time can go beyond a clear starting point. When you track your time you can start to see where you are allocating your time. You can later make shifts and create a better workflow that increases productivity.
As you track time you can start to see exactly how much time certain tasks take and you can better estimate the time you need moving forward. When you work on projects it is important to have a clear understanding of how long the project will take and how long the tasks for the projects will be.
This will help you launch your project and also give you a better idea day by day what kind of tasks you can take on.
Most importantly, tracking your down time shows you exactly where you are losing your time. This could be to social media, the kids during work hours or even your snooze button. Even if you feel like you are constantly on the go and never look at social media, you will be surprised by what you find when you do this activity.
I found that I allotted myself twenty minutes of social media, when I did this exercise I found I was on there for an hour each time. That is forty minutes wasted multiple times a day.
And yes, wasted is the accurate word if it doesn’t align with your goals. If you are on social media posting for business then okay, however if you are scrolling to “search” and really you are reading up on the drama of your ex best friends cousin then, you are wasting your time. Still, no judgment here because I totally get it…
How to start tracking your time
It starts with a simple excel worksheet, a notebook or even your phone. Whatever you want to take notes for a week. The goal is to be able to take it with you or update it right away when you finish an activity, especially if you left the house.
Start each morning by writing what time you are waking up and as you flow through the day write down when you start and finish an activity. Until you get a real grasp on how long activities take, it is important to do this before and after each activity, not at the end of day.
If you are checking email on your phone and you jump on Facebook, right it down. Even if you realize “oh I shouldn’t be on here right now” because right now you are aware that you are tracking your time. This means that you will be more aware of the time spent doing the activities you are not scheduled to do and may catch yourself before you fall down the rabbit hole.
Track everything, from breakfast to cleaning, to emails and content creation. If the kids interrupt you during a task write it down.
The goal is to get a REAL visual of how you are spending your time. Don’t try and cheat the exercise, the only one that it will hurt is you. If you are really tired of being overwhelmed and not getting work done, be real. It is okay, again no judgment because even though I am super strict with my schedule there are days I lay in bed an extra 10 minutes connecting to the benefits of what I am doing, or I jump on social media because I am tired and no longer want to work.
It happens to us all, but the best way to see what is really happening so you can start controlling your days is to write down what is happening in real time.
After you track your time take an honest look at what is happening. Where can you fill the gaps, what can you shift, and what activities can you batch.
Sometimes it is a matter of batching two activities that could save you two hours. For example, the first time I did this exercise in 2013 I found that I was spending 3 hours each day cooking. That is ridiculous! So I started batching cooking once a week. I still do this today and it takes me 5 hours to cook ALL of our lunch and dinner meals for six people. I saved myself 9 hours, more when I count the half hours I got back during breakfast but I rounded.
What tasks can you shift to increase your productivity, are you checking email first thing when you are most fresh? Instead work on your number one task when you are fresh and let the email go until you have slowed down for the day. For example, instead of checking your email at 7am when you are able to create your best content, check email at 3pm when you are tired and you know your quality isn’t the best.
This activity opens up so many new ways to increase your productivity. It really is the foundation of controlling your days.
Start by picking a method to track, write it all down in real time and evaluate how you can make simple changes for big impact.