We all know that “Time” is one of the most precious commodities these days, and still a lot of it goes to waste each day. Do you also get those days or sometimes weeks where time just goes by? You are busy the whole day, but in the end, it felt you haven’t accomplished anything and have nothing to show for a day’s hard work? Well, I bet that we all experience these types of days from time to time.

Thostime management2e days really frustrat me and I want to reduce them to the bare minimum. That’s why I did a small experiment with my time – to see how I spend it and what I can do to get more hours out of a day. If I am lucky, I can squeeze a max of 12 hours work time out of my 24hour day, but it usually average only 8 hours.

During the past few months I constantly felt that I do not have enough time for everything that needs to be done in our business and still live a balanced live. So I decided to take a normal work week out of my calendar to do the following small experiment…

  1. I kept an activity log and tracked every task (private and business) in that week. I wrote down exactly how many minutes an activity took out of my day and made a point not to cheat!
  2. I investigated every activity and used a numbering system to spot time wasters. An activity that is important was given a point of 5, low priority activities were numbered 1 and the rest were scored in between. I also evaluated the time spend at each activity.
  3. Where possible I eliminated or minimised the time wasters (all those tasks that were numbered 1 or 2) and put some plans in place to optimise the rest of the activities.

The above exercise revealed some interesting statistics: The biggest time culprits during that week was social media (approximately 7 hours), email (14hours) and working on the internet (a whooping 23 hours) – a total of 44 hours out of a 50 hour week. It leaves only ±50min per day to do other work! Wow.

OK, I admit, this might seem shocking. But, as a virtual assistant my work is internet based, so I will spend most of my time there. I also receives a large number of email requests that have to be answered daily, so that can explain the email usage, and the social media time is relatively high because we want to built our social networks and establish a presence on the those sites.

But, although I can explain the time spend, it’s good enough. To have more time available, I definitely had to plan and prioritise my time better. I now keep a weekly schedule and list the priorities in order of importance. I also put the following action plans in place

  • Instead of visiting social media sites like Twitter too often, rather schedule tweets beforehand and let a program like Hootsuite tweet them at specific times.
  • Instead of answering the same questions over and over in different emails – a customisable template with most of the information that people ask for can save time.
  • Instead of just working haphazardly on the internet, better planning and setting a time limit to certain activities can make my time spending more manageable

time management4By just implementing these 3 basic plans to optimise my work time, I’ve already made a lot of time available to spend elsewhere.

The bottom line is this: Anybody can tell you what the typical time wasters in everyday life are. But if you do not know how YOU spend your time and what those time wasting activities in YOUR life are, you will not be able to put plans into place to eliminate them and make better use of the 24hours in your day.

Time is valuable and if you want more of it, I encourage you to take up this simple time experiment.

We’d love to hear your comments on how you’ve dealt with the time-wasters in your life.