Do you feel like you never have enough time? Are you constantly racing against the clock to do everything you want to do?
It sounds like you need to do a time audit!
Essentially, this means looking at your schedule and figuring out how you spend your time. Doing so helps you identify which activities you’re spending too much time on. Then, you can cut back on them and open up more time in your day.
A time audit involves the following steps:
- Writing down how you want to spend your time
- Looking at how you are currently spending your time
- Readjusting your schedule
- Setting up systems to keep track of your progress
With your newfound free time, you can focus more on accomplishing your goals!
There are several things you can do to make time for the tasks that matter. Here’s our step-by-step guide to reclaiming your time with an audit:
Figure Out What a Perfect Day Looks Like
Start by figuring out what an ideal day might look like.
Would you like to spend more time exercising and less time working? Do you want to spend more time with your children or spouse?
In your notebook, create a dream schedule. Write down how much time you’d like to spend on specific tasks like watching TV and doing chores.
And account for your responsibilities, too. If you work 9-5 on weekdays, build your dream schedule around that.
Make sure to work within the limits of a 24-hour day. Even though this is an imaginary schedule, you can’t add more hours to the week!
Once you’ve drafted up your dream schedule, use it to create some goals. If you wrote that you’d like to spend one hour a day at the gym, write that goal on your list. If you want to limit social media time to a half-hour per day, add that to your goals, as well!
Track Your Tasks
To figure out how much time you’re spending on each task, try tracking your time for a week.
Use the stopwatch on your phone to track how long each task takes you, and write down your times. You can do this in a physical notebook or digital spreadsheet. You can also download a time-tracking app.
After you get into the habit of tracking tasks, you’ll start to see which activities you’re spending too much time on. Then, you can try to spend less time on each of these tasks.
Track everything, including how much time you spend checking emails and browsing social media. Every minute counts!
Track Your Thinking Time, Too
Ideally, this exercise will help you account for every single minute of your day. This means you should also track the time you spend thinking.
If you spend five minutes daydreaming in your car before you get out and head into work, jot that down in your notebook.
Even better, write down the type of thoughts you were thinking.
For example, let’s say you were having negative thoughts during that time. You might have been reflecting on an unpleasant morning, or thinking about how badly you want a new job. That is important information, so write it down.
After a while, you’ll start to see how much time you’re spending on positive thoughts and how much you’re spending on negative ones.
Then, you can begin to make changes accordingly. If you’re spending hours and hours just sitting and thinking about how much you hate your job, it could be time to find a new one. You’ll be a lot happier and more productive when you do!
Doing less seems counterintuitive when you’re trying to get more done. But by cutting back on certain activities, you’ll have more time for the rest.
It’s easy to take on too many tasks. But overloading yourself only leads to stress.
You might have to cut down on activities you want to do because you don’t have time for them. For example, volunteering in the community is a wonderful act. But if you’re already overwhelmed at work, you might not have time for it right now. Something’s gotta give.
For now, focus on activities that bring you closer to your goals. Sometimes, you have to prioritize and cut things out of your schedule. Once you get your schedule back on track, you can start doing them again.
It’s up to you to gauge how much you can take on without overextending yourself. Use your best judgment and adjust your schedule in a way that makes you happy.
Come Up With a Better Routine
Your routine could be the root of your problem. If your routine is out of whack, it will affect your productivity.
To correct this, try a different routine.
Perhaps you aren’t taking enough breaks and you’re fading out by mid-afternoon. Or maybe you are going to sleep too late and dragging through the day.
Whatever the case, you should look at your routine and try to fix the problems.
If you don’t take breaks, start. Schedule a few throughout the day to go on a walk or call friends. If you’re not sleeping enough, get to bed earlier. You’ll find that you move more swiftly from task to task and finish things faster.
Then, you’ll have more time to spend on the things you actually want to do!
Set Daily Reminders to Form New Habits
Developing new habits doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and commitment to fix your schedule.
One way to stick with new habits is to set daily reminders on your phone. You might use the alarm clock or try any one of the notification apps out there. These programs will remind you when you have to do something, so you can hold yourself accountable.
You could also leave written notes as daily encouragement for yourself. Jot a positive thought or inspirational quote in your planner to remind you that you’re on the right path. Sticky notes work well, too.
Whatever it takes, figure out a system that keeps you accountable. You can do it!
Time audits aren’t easy, but they’re worth the effort.
Once you figure out where your time is going, you can adjust your schedule and unlock new pockets of time in your day. And when you have extra time on your hands, you can focus on the things that really matter.
You now have the tools to be happier and more productive!