Each day, we’re blessed with a 24-hour allotment of time. What we do with those 1,440 minutes is up to us. That is why the importance of time tracking and priority management can not be overlooked when it comes to setting and working towards our goals.
Time tracking is pretty self-explanatory. It’s documenting and measuring the amount of time you spend doing various activities. There are any number of ways you can document your time. It can be something as simple as jotting things down on a legal pad. Or you can log entries in an Excel spreadsheet or the Notes folder on your phone. There are even sophisticated apps you can download or purchase to help you keep track of where your time is really going. Whether you go old-school or utilize technology, the point is to record what you’re doing every 15 minutes. By midday, you’ll start to get an idea of how much of your time was spent on things that are NOT a priority to you, whether it be tasks and demands from others that don’t serve your greater good or getting sucked into an email rabbithole that serves no real purpose.
Once you’ve got a picture of where your time is going, the next step is to review and assess that information so you can make a time budget. Do you want to spend more time volunteering at the local animal shelter? Or focus more attention on making those 10 sales calls each day? That’s great, but there’s a catch. If you’re going to add something to your metaphorical plate, you’re going to have to take something off first to add room for the new activity. Remember, you only get 24 hours each day, so if you want to learn American Sign Language or tackle that 6-week online boot camp on developing leadership skills, you might have to press pause on watching Wheel of Fortune every night or limit the time you spend browsing Pinterest for the latest organizing hack. It’s all about making choices and prioritizing. As I say in my uplifting and inspirational keynote It’s Game Time! Life Lessons from a Former Female Football Player, if you don’t choose your priorities, your circumstances will! Meaning, if you don’t take control of your time, then everything and everyone else will take control of your time for you.
It might seem overwhelming at first to track what you’re doing every 15 minutes, but I assure it will not be an exercise in futility! In fact, I would argue that not doing this will actually lead you to eventually being more overwhelmed as you try to juggle the different areas of your life. The pressure to “do it all” weighs us down, making us more prone to ignore the things we’d really like to focus on as we take care of everything else, which ultimately leads us to inadvertently giving up on some of our goals. It may help to make a list of the different areas of life (work, family time, self-care, volunteering, personal development, etc.) and just like managing a monetary budget, decide how much time you want to allot to each area so you don’t ignore an area you really want to focus on. Having this concrete outline will make it much easier to see where your time is going and where it ISN’T going.
BONUS: Check out this great analogy that uses money as an example of why we should take more attention to use our time wisely!