You’ve done a time audit. Now, how to analyze the results?
Step 1 - Categorize your time into “time wasters” and “high priority tasks”
Once you have gathered a weeks’ worth of data, it is time to analyze the results to identify potential areas of improvement.
Sort through your workday and categorize each segment as either:
1. Time wasters:
These are activities that are unproductive (such as browsing the web, checking social media), or can be limited or restricted to certain blocks throughout the day
(such as checking email or lengthy unscheduled discussions with coworkers).
2. High priorities: These are activities that move you towards achieving your goals and objectives. A few examples of high priority activities might be completing work-related projects, pre-scheduled meetings or conducting research.
Step 2 - Increase your productivity
At this stage, you will have a visual representation of how you honestly spend your time.
The next step is to reshuffle your day to increase its efficiency.
A good place to start is by reallocating time blocks or delegating and consolidating activities. Consider also breaking up larger projects into smaller, achievable milestones.
Reallocate and Delegate Tasks
Typically, time-wasting activities are done at unplanned, sporadic moments throughout the day.
First, identify if there are activities that can be cut out completely. A great example is checking social media, which not only wastes time but interferes with your focus levels.
If you absolutely must check Facebook, schedule in a small amount of time once a day where you allow yourself to indulge. At all other times, make a commitment to yourself that the workplace is a Facebook-free zone.
Are there tasks you complete personally which could be handled by a secretary or team member? If so, invest some time in training them.
If there are multiple time blocks per day spent on the same, or similar tasks, consider consolidating them into one scheduled activity that is completed once or twice a day.
A perfect example of this is time spent checking email. If your time audit reveals that you are a compulsive inbox checker, try allocating two specific times per day where you check your email uninterrupted.
Break large projects up into small milestones
When it comes to high priority projects, most of us know what we have to do, but have no specific plan as to how it will get done. This is why breaking these projects up into smaller, manageable goals is so important.
Once you have laid out a roadmap of the steps required to complete these larger projects, you can assign them to specific time blocks throughout your day.
Rather than approaching these projects with no plan in place, knowing what steps you will complete and at what point, will allow you to complete them faster.
Step 3 - Redistribute time to better achieve your goals and targets
Your Ideal Day vs a Realistic Day
Most of us underestimate how long it actually takes to complete a task. Before jumping into your calendar, calculate an appropriate amount of time to allocate to each task.
Try this time audit exercise; consider what a perfect workday would look like for you.
To do this, note down your most important high priority activities. A list of 3-5 projects or categories is a good place to start. Next, allocate a percentage of time that you would like to spend working on each.
For example, from your time audit, you might have learnt that you have 25 hours a week to spend on high priority projects. The “ideal” percentage you allocate to each task will be divvied up amongst those hours.
Here is a basic outline you can follow to get started:
- Goal 1: Client outreach (Ideally 50% of the time)
- Goal 2: Staff training (Ideally 25% of the time)
- Goal 3: Marketing strategy (Ideally 25% of the time)
Next, look at your time audit and calculate how long you are presently spending on those activities. There may be some large discrepancies between your ideal percentage and the current percentage.
For example, if one of your main business goals
is to secure new business, but you are only dedicating 10% of your high priority time to client outreach, it is unlikely you will acquire many new clients.