How To Uncover Hidden Pockets of Time And Use Them To Improve Your Productivity

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Hey everyone, Kosio Angelov here, founder of High Performance Lifestyle. In today’s episode, I want to give you a very simple, very easy-to-use system for uncovering little hidden pockets of time that you didn’t know existed. If you really take this system, put it to use, implement it, it’s going to put your productivity on the fast track. You can use this system to improve your productivity not only once, but on a weekly basis. Week after week, on an ongoing basis, you’re really going to get that compounding effect.

The Power of Time Tracking

So how do you get that compounding productivity effect week after week? Through the power of time tracking. Time tracking. It sounds very simple to work, but it’s really effective, and here’s why: oftentimes I meet people in my consulting practice or online, and people say “I want to be more productive.” I say, “Great, but do you know how productive you are right now?”

And 9 out of 10, in most cases, people are stunned by my question. Unfortunately, very few people take the time or make the effort to really track their time, to really know where their time is allocated and where their time is actually being spent.

If you really think about it, at the end of the day, the only way to measure your own productivity is through time. If it takes you 10 minutes to achieve a certain activity and somehow you figured out a new way of doing things or you learned a new tactic, and now it takes you 6 minutes – so it used to take you 10, now it takes you 6 – you’re being more productive. You saved 4 minutes, and you’re awesome.

But how do you know that you saved 4 minutes if you didn’t know that it took you 10 minutes to do that activity to begin with? That is where the power of time tracking really is: knowing where your time is spent. As the saying goes, “what can be measured, can be improved”, and there is no way you can improve your productivity if you really don’t know where your time is being spent.

I want to give you this very simple framework to understanding where your time is being spent, and for not only understanding where your time is going, but where you want it to go, and really using the data you collect to further your productivity.

1. Gear Up

So how do you do it? The first part of the process is to get the right gear. In order for you to track your time, you need something to track it with. The right gear is something that works in your particular case. It can be an application on your smartphone if you’re somebody who travels a lot, or if you’re a person who works on a computer all day long, get a software that tracks your time on your computer. Or you can even use Excel and your own watch. It doesn’t really matter.

The gear is not as important. Just figure out something that’s going to allow you to track your time, it’s going to be very easy for you to use, and probably it’s something that you already have. You just need to repurpose it to track your time. Get the right gear, and let’s get going.

2. Choose a Typical Week

The second step of the process is to choose the most typical week. What do I mean by the most typical week? You can really track your time at any point; you can start at any time, in the middle of the day, in the middle of the month, etc. But the system really works best if you choose your most typical week, the week that’s going to be the average of all your weeks.

Because if you’re a person who works on a computer all day long, and you start tracking your time in a week where you have four or five meetings, the system is still going to work for you and it’s still going to be very beneficial, but it’s not going to give you the best measurements. Choose your most typical week, start on a Monday, and track your activities from Monday all the way to Friday.

3. Start Broad

The next step is to “start broad”. What do I mean by start broad? When you’re tracking your time, it’s essentially a new activity that you’re introducing to your schedule, and it’s meant to be easy.

Time tracking is meant to improve your productivity, not just add more to your plate.

It’s important to start small and start broad.

Let me give an example. Let’s say that in a given week, you have four meetings, and your four meetings are two sales meetings, one marketing meeting, and one meeting about your product. In your first week when you start tracking your time and measuring where your time is spent, put all of these meetings, although they’re different, put them into one category called “Meetings”. Then next week, you can get into more detail and break them down into sales meetings and marketing meetings and product meetings. But when you’re first starting out, start small, start broad; put everything into broad, general categories, and you can work your way through as time progresses. In the beginning, start broad.

It’s also worth mentioning that when you’re tracking your time, you need to be impartial. Treat yourself as a third party, as somebody who’s looking over your shoulder and just purely recording what’s going on. If you start your meeting at 9:00 and you end it at 10:00, simply record that it took you 1 hour. Don’t think about “Is 1 hour enough? Is 1 hour not enough?” Just put in 1 hour.

Record the actual time it takes you to do an activity and be impartial to the results. If you really start trying to process the information as it’s recorded, it’s going to add more to your plate, and instead of being more productive, you’re going to be less productive. Track your time from an impartial perspective as a third party and simply record what you see.

4. Review Your Results

The next step is where the rubber hits the road. This is probably the most important step of the process: at the end of the week, take 15 minutes on a Friday and just review your results. Literally block 15 minutes, put it on your schedule, put it on your calendar, and just review everything that you’ve recorded for the entire week.

And here’s where it gets interesting. Probably the first couple of times you do it, you’re going to uncover that your time is not spent where you want it to be. Maybe you’re going to figure out that you spend more time in meetings than you want. Maybe it’s going to be that you spend too much time in your email, in your inbox, or calling people on the phone or returning calls and checking your voicemail.

That’s okay. That’s why you have the review. You need to review it, see what’s happening, see where your time is spent, and next week you get a chance for a rematch. You get a chance to take your time, take the time that you uncovered, and put it where it matters more.

If you discover that you spend 3 hours per day in your email and you really think that’s too much, you really think that you can go by with an hour and a half, that extra 1 hour and a half, now that you know it’s there, you can put it to something more productive – maybe creating a new marketing piece or a new product. Whatever works for you. But only through time tracking and reviewing your results, you can uncover where your time is spent and, more importantly, where you want it to be.

Next week, try to adjust and get closer to your perfect goal. Try to get your time where it needs to be spent, not where it’s actually being spent.

5. Rinse and Repeat

The last part of the puzzle is to take this whole process and just repeat it again. But when you repeat it, add more detail to it. Add more activities that you track. You started broad; now it’s time to repeat the same exact process next week, but get into more detail. If you’re tracking your meetings, break them down into how much time you spend in sales meetings, how much time you spend in marketing meetings or in product meetings.

Start breaking down your activities into more details, and then at the end of the week, you’re going to review and adjust for next week. And next week, you’re going to get into more details, review, and adjust the next week. As time goes by, you’re going to get more in-depth into more detail, and your time spent is going to be closer to where you want it to be versus where your day and your agenda and other people take you.

Repeat the process over and over again, get into more details, and you can even start tracking your own personal activities – and that’s where it gets really interesting, because you’re going to uncover some pretty crazy stuff, like how much time you spend in the shower or in the bathroom or in sleep. You can really start taking not only your business productivity, but your personal productivity to the next level.

Over To You Now

Simply go through this very simple process week after week, make sure you spend the time to review the results at the end of the week, and readjust where your time is being spent for next week. If you really take this system, make it into a habit, make it part of your routine, you’re going to see how over time, the results really pile on top of each other; you get the whole compounding effect, and your productivity is really going to be on the fast track and is going to be on a whole different level.

There you have it: a very simple system of uncovering where your time is spent. Because think about it – at the end of the day, you really cannot manage your time if you don’t know where your time is spent. Just a simple framework on a weekly basis; track your time, take massive action, and I’ll see you next time.

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What do you think about time tracking? Have you used it before? Share your thoughts and comments in the section below:

  • Danail Donchev

    The best way to create time is to track where you spend it. I use time tracking apps.