Do you need more time? For most people, the answer is a resounding yes.
Yet many of us waste time every day, or spend it on things that don’t make us satisfied. Time is a precious resource, so it is worth checking up on our spending now and again.
Do you know exactly where your time goes?
By doing a time audit we can boost our productivity. It’s a way we can improve our time management skills, and make sure that we are using our time for the things we want to spend it on.
Often, time management is a case of redistributing our time. After all, we know that we’ll get 24 hours a day, every day; no more, no less. Some people tend to somehow be able to do a lot more with that same amount of time. How do they manage it?
Have a look at where your time is going:
Identify any time drains during your day, and during your week. These can be things that are broken or need fixing, people who drain your time, or time that you habitually waste (for example getting your social media fix for longer than you’ve really got to spare).
Make a list of these time drains. Identify the easiest one to deal with or cut down on, and tackle that first this week.
We spend a lot of our time working with, socialising with, and dealing with other people. Some people will waste your time, that’s a fact of life (for example, the colleague at work who comes over to you every day with their problems – which have nothing to do with your direct work – and in doing so takes 15 of your minutes out of every single day). Whether you choose to let them do this, however, is something that you have some control over. Make a list of the people who waste your time. Make a list of the people you want to spend time with. Make a list of the people who save you time.
Yes, we all need thinking time. But what do we actually spend this thinking time thinking of? Start to become aware of what you are thinking about. How much time do you spend on repeated, negative thoughts? How much time do you spend worrying? How much time do you spend replaying negative events? And positive events? How much time do you spend replaying positive thoughts? How much time do you spend thinking about or planning positive things? As we spend a lot of our time thinking, it can be useful to guide your thoughts away from the negative and towards the positive … resulting in time better spent.
Improve your estimates
How long do you think a certain task will take? Start to ask yourself this with each task you do – however small – and see whether you overestimate or underestimate how long each thing takes. Often, we underestimate, then get stressed when things take longer than we anticipated. It’s stressful because we’ve booked other things in to that time, so if we overrun, the other things have to be pushed back. As you begin to notice exactly how long each task takes, your estimates should become more accurate, and you can allocate your time so there’s enough time for everything.
A less obvious trap we can also fall in to is taking a certain amount of time over something because we expect it to take that long. We linger and fill the time we’ve expected it to take. But particularly with the things we’re really good at, we might be able to do them far quicker than we expect. If it doesn’t take us very long, that shouldn’t be a problem. After all, it leaves us with plenty of time to spare …
Frances Booth is author of The Distraction Trap: How to Focus in a Digital World. To get your free first chapter of The Distraction Trap, and for more productivity tips, join her mailing list here
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This article was written by Frances Booth from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.