For the sake of productivity, I regularly monitor how I spend my time as outlined in the book “The Effective Executive”. The method described by Peter Drucker in his book The Effective Executive essentially means you keep a time study of and for yourself. If applicable, you could have someone else with insight into your life do it, such as a personal assistant or an executive assistant. Personally, I always do it myself since some estimations are always required for the time logging to work without being too cumbersome.
Define a few time categories
Before starting, think about the different types of tasks that are included in your job. This could be “email admin”, “status updates”, “Customer interaction”, “expense report admin”, “internal meetings”, “strategy” and other topics. Just to make this exercise a bit more fun, why don´t you guess how many hours a week you spend on each of these categories? It doesn´t have to be exact, just shoot for the right ballpark.
Once you have guessed how much time you actually spend on each category, it is time to add the categories you feel you should be working with but don’t really get the time for. After adding a few of these, your list should have grown further and it is time to add how much time you would like to spend with each category. Then check and see the difference between your estimates.
Let the experiment begin..
Now, let the experiment start: log your time in 15-minute blocks every day. Keep doing this for a few weeks or a month depending on how regular your schedule is. If you perform tasks not fitting into an existing category, simply add on to the list of different categories as you see fit. If you have a bit of a monthly cycle with your work, perhaps with reports at the beginning of the month and some other typical end-of-month activities then keep the time log for a month. If your weeks look more or less the same, then keep logging time for a week or two.
Once done, summarize the time spent on each topic and check back with your estimates and how much time you would like to spend on the different topics. Are you having a discrepancy? Most of us do, and most of us get pretty surprised by how we actually spend our time. It is rarely as we expect it.
Have you tried this? Any big surprising findings? Please comment below