It should come as no shock to you to read that there are exactly 168 hours in a week. No one gets any more and no one gets any less.
However, too often I hear advisors say that don’t have (or couldn’t find) the time to getting everything done that they intended in a given week.
When asked where did the time ago, the most common answer is, “I just don’t know.”
Just as businesses conduct audits to thoroughly examine where their money went, you can do a time audit to see where you are spending your time.
Here are the steps:
Step One: Decide what you will track
Though you might want to track every minute of every day, you’ll wear yourself out trying to do it all. Instead, measure what matters to you.
For example, you might just track your business activity or just your personal activity. Or you can measure both in two broad categories. You might find that you are spending a lot more time on personal tasks than you realized.
Consider how granular you want to get. You could create a few categories such as client work and business development. Or you could track time spent for each client (which can give you a sense of your per client profitability).
Additionally, set a reasonable time increment based on how frequently you switch tasks. While attorneys typically track their time in 6-minute increments, using 15-minute or 30-minute increments will be easier to manage.
Step Two: Determine the method for tracking
Here are a few approaches for tracking your time:
- Pen and paper is a quick and easy method. Just note the time that you start and stop a given activity.
- Your calendar, either paper or electronic, already has your appointments. You can add what you worked on in-between meetings.
- Excel is the tool that I personally use to track my time. The first column has time marked in 15-minute increments. The subsequent columns represent a given day. If I spent 45 minutes Wednesday afternoon working on this article, I’d enter “Blog” into three cells.
- Software is available from companies like Toggl and RescueTime. These tools can be especially helpful for teams.
Step Three: Analyze and revise
While you might gain some insight as you track your time (“Did it really take that long to fill out that form?”), you’ll learn a lot more when you aggregate your data across a week or two to spot trends.
As you examine where you’ve actually spent your time, consider these questions:
- What takes longer than expected?
- What are some areas where you’re not spending as much time as you’d like?
- Are there activities which should be delegated to someone else (or stopped altogether)?
- Are certain times of day which appear to be better suited for specific activities?
- Do you feel that you are making the most of your time every day?
Then, leverage your insights to plan your days and weeks on activities that will take you closer to your vision of success.