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Time Tracking Logs

Everyone wastes time, but understanding how much time a person wastes by keeping a time tracking log can function as an effective time management learning tool. Even the most punctual individuals probably dont thoroughly understand how much time that they waste on trivial tasks. Another common area for skewed time perception is underestimating the actual time particular tasks will take. Together, those two factors can contribute substantially to feelings of stress and overwork. Getting a handle on time reduces stress and the anxiety it produces.

A time log doesnt have to be kept for an extended period of time to yield valuable information and reveal trends. Three to seven days are sufficient as long as the data is conscientiously logged. Each and every activity, no matter how minor it seems, should be recorded to produce a valuable tool. The greatest amount of wasted time can be hidden in the seemingly innocuous activities that seem like they should only take a moment.

There are a couple of methods that a person or manager can use to construct a useful time log. One is to update the log each time a switch in activity occurs, no matter how often that may be. The other is to set a time for regular intervals, say fifteen to twenty minutes in length, and at each designated time, record all activities that have taken place since the previous recording. The process can be simplified a bit by making a few preparations in advance. For example, columns could be made on a sheet of paper and given headings like time, activities, scheduled, interrupted, urgent, and people. When activities are added to the time and activities columns, a check mark can be made in the accompanying scheduled, interrupted, or urgent column. The people column can be used to identify who was involved in the activity.

Once a person has created a time log, the person can then move on to analyze this log. A review of the record will reveal how much time a person has spent in each area of life including work, business, family, recreational, spiritual, health, etc. The percentage of time spent on activities that are really important should be calculated, as should the percentage of time spent on business that is truly urgent. Primary sources of interruptions can be identified, as well as the percentage of activities that went as planned without interruption. The person can make a determination about who or what occupies the bulk of an individuals time along with a determination of with who or what more time should or could be spent doing.
A shrewd manager can look with an eye toward identifying activities that could potentially be cut back or simply delegated to someone else. Similarly, tasks that are related and could be grouped together should also be identified. This analysis should lead to awareness and change. Once it is apparent where bottlenecks occur in daily life, or where valuable time is wasted, the log itself can become a roadmap for reorganization.

It is never particularly easy to change habits or personality traits, but self-revealed ones may be less difficult to change. Once an individual has uncovered areas of concern or locked on to habits that, if changed, could provide more time for more pleasurable or more productive activities, looking at them in black and white with quantifyable metrics, rather than just guessing or estimating, may become a strong motivator for change.

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