How to work out where the time is going to come from

You’ve been getting yourself in the right frame of mind (and body) to find time to do the stuff you really love. If you missed the first five tips, check them out here. You’ve also had a go at timetabling, so you know what you’re typically going to have to fit into each day. But how do you actually work out how much time you have, and when you’ve got the energy to do the thing you want to do? The only real way to work out when you’ve got time is to track your time. By the way, remember we’re talking ‘ doing the stuff you really love’ here – focusing on that should motivate you to time track.

So tip number 6 is:

  1. Work out when you’ve got the time, space and energy to do what you want to do. You may have an hour free in the evening, but will you have the space and the energy, for instance? You might also need to build in some time for learning a skill related to what you want to do: doing a course, reading a book, doing some research. You’re going to track your time for a week – or five days, as you get the weekend off. You can use the free Small Steps Time Tracker to do it.


Where does the time come from

How time tracking works

The gentle approach is to write into the spreadsheet three or four times a day. Leave it on your desk – or somewhere you’ll remember – with a pen nearby. The tougher way to do it is to set a kitchen timer to go off every half an hour or hour and to write down what you were just doing! You get a pretty good sense of what you spend your time on doing it this way. By the way, the Pomodoro technique is an effective time management system that you can learn more about here – and you could use Pomodoro for this. It’s tough going listening to a kitchen timer every thirty minutes for five days, so if you go down that route, only do it for a day!

Once you start tracking, try this:

  1. Expect the unexpected. Write down every unexpected thing that distracts you during the day, to get a sense of how these are impacting on your ability to plan your time. (The annoying co-worker, the visit from your neighbour, the social media vortex, the laundry, the extra job your boss gave you unexpectedly.)
  2. Journal it. Some people like to write a paragraph recording what they did during the day: a kind of summary so you can pick off where you left off the next day.
  3. Pimp your timetable. Now get your timetable and rewrite it, adding in a slot or two for doing the thing you really want to do. Stick it up on your wall. The next time you have some perspective time, you’re going to review this to see if it worked! If not, you get to redo your timetable again. Keep adjusting until it works.

Next up: Tip Number Seven.

Check out these great productivity resources.


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