Last night, I slept 7.6 hours, played with my kids 2.4 hours and spent less time on IG than I have in a year! How do I know that? Because I track my time, using my Daily Time Tracker, specifically designed to improve productivity.
I tracked my time for a full week. Not only did I have my most productive week, I actually learned 6 tips about myself and my time. =) The first step to improving productivity is tracking your time and I have created the perfect daily time tracker to do just that!
Before I walk you step by step through how to use this unique tracker to improve your productivity, I want to tell you why I started tracking my time and why you might want to track yours.
Why I Decided to Track my Time
I have been working on improving my productivity for several years and I am constantly reassessing and evaluating where I am and what new struggles are holding me back. I knew I was wasting so much time and I had a desire to know how and when I was getting off track.
At the end of each day, I felt so tired and stressed and overwhelmed. I felt like there was too much to do in such little time. BUT funny enough I could check my phone usage and I spent 5.5 hours on my phone a day! That is 23% of my day and 33% of my awake time!
So I KNEW I could find time to use on my goals! I just needed to track my actuals, to see where it was going. What I didn’t know is it would actually help me be more productive.
Why I Created my Own Time Tracker
I tried a million times to fill out my template on the computer and ran into so many problems. For starters, I’m not on the computer all the time, so I would return to my computer the next day and struggle to remember what I did the night before. After about 3 days in my interest would fade and life would happen and I would forget about it about 2 or 3 days in.
Next, I tried leaving notes on my phone and various apps, but I would forget the start or end time, or even get distracted before I got to the app. “Why did I pick up my phone again? Oh, that’s right Instagram.” This didn’t work so I concluded to print one out to have it with me. BUT I didn’t want to print out any old tracker. I wanted to make it a tool to HELP me at the same time! I wanted it to show me what I “should” be doing, so I made my own. With a guide column, where I put my “plan”.
Because I struggled with this, I came up with my uniquely designed BTA Daily Time Tracker, which ended up increasing my productivity.
Okay now, let me explain how to use it!
How to Track Your Time Using My Time Tracker
1. Set your Time Tracker up
First, download my uniquely designed BTA (budget to actuals) Daily Time Tracker. There are 7 pages, one for each day of the week. Print out all 7 days in advance, write in the dates. Place them where you will see them first thing in the morning, but that doesn’t mean we are waiting until the morning to get started.
2. Create a Plan
You know what a typical day is for you. I want you to write in exactly what you should be doing, for the day for the next seven days. Be as specific as you can. Pull up your calendar and write in your appointments. I put in vague to-do’s like “morning routine”, “take kids to school”, “cook dinner”. For work I put things like “work on X client”, “work on LDL”, for a 30-minute window, I might put “post to social media”. I do have some holes in my plan that I can fill in later, as time gets closer or leave open. It is okay to have times when not everything is planned. You can just write “free time”. I like to encourage people to have flexibility in their schedule. It allows you to slow down your busy life a little bit.
The goal is to have the majority of the thinking done ahead of time, so when you have your tracker in front of you, you know exactly what you should do next. While you can be vague, it is important to note this is a very important step, because it is going to be the key to reorienting you throughout your day and keep you productive.
If you are anything like me, then you have high ambitions for your week and think yes I am going to get so much done. But then somehow Netflix and Instagram wiggle their way in your schedule and you get completely distracted, left to wonder, where did the time go?
3. Get Started and Stick with it
There is no perfect time to begin tracking. I don’t want you to wait for a fresh morning to start tracking your time. Grab the page for what every day of the week it is and start tracking as soon as you print your time.
Set three alarms on your phone to track your time. This will keep you on track when you forget due to the chaos of the day. I set it for about 2 hours into my workday. That is long enough to be productive and have something to write. About 30 minutes after I get home with the kids, which gives me time to get them settled. Then about 30 minutes after my kids’ bedtime, this helps keep me on track for the evening and write things down before I forget them.
I set the sheets in my bathroom so that I see them when I wake up so I can update it and make sure I am all caught up and then I tuck it in my purse or workbag so I have it with me throughout the day.
Then comes the fun part! After you have 7 days worth of information you get to analyze the data! Set aside about an hour or two. You can break it into 30-minute chunks if you need to, I know we are all busy. Calculate how much time you spend in each area of life. Sleep, work, side hustle, home care (making dinner, lunches, cleaning, etc), kid time, spouse time, and self time.
There will be times you will have overlap, and you will have to choose. This is purely a personal decision. For me, I treat my commute as self time, because I listen to podcasts or audiobooks. For example, if I take a work call during that time, then it is work time. If I am giving a bath, that is sort of home care, but some days we have good conversations about school or our zoo adventures, so I count that as kid/playtime. If I am doing laundry and my son is helping me, I count it as home care time, because we aren’t really spending quality time together I am just keeping him entertained while I put up clothes.
You might view these differently, so it is purely up to you, how you classify your overlap. All I challenge you to do is put thought into it break it out.
Tip: There are 168 hours in a week. So when you total it up at the end make sure it is all counted for.
Lastly, you will perform a Budget to Actual analysis. I know this sounds complicated but really you are just comparing your plan to your actual time spent. Likely, you have been doing this as you go along. With this information, you will answer these questions. Where did you get distracted? When were your estimates way off? Where can you adjust your plan or where do you need to put routines in place to fix your distractions?
The best part about this step is that you know you will be performing this analysis later. Consequently, during the week you will try your best to stay on track and have your most productive week ever! Check out the 6 lessons I learned from using my time tracker here.
Share your Results
After you have given it a try. Tell me what you have learned. You can comment below or let me know on Instagram. Tag me in your stories, I would love to share what you learned with my audience of productive Moms!
If you haven’t already downloaded it! Here is a sign-up that will send it directly to you! ??????
As always keep thriving!