Be more Productive by Tracking your Time (including a downloadable copy of my template)

Aug 28, 2012

Time….oh time….where does it go? Ever ask yourself this question? Think about what you did yesterday. How was your day? Do you know where the day went? Did 5pm come quickly? Did you get done what you set out to do? Congrats if you did but I know most people struggle with this.

The simple fact is that we underestimate how long it takes to complete a task.

We also fall victim to the perils of too much multitasking.

Our ability to focus is directly related to getting results.

You have to learn how to build habits that allow you to focus on the task at hand. From online rabbit hunting to multiple forms of procrastination, we are constantly bombarded with the potential of distractions. Another example – If you’re constantly checking email, you’re dead in the water. You’re not getting anything meaningful accomplished.

Keys to tracking time (and making the most of it)

Implement a tangible process – I don’t care if it’s on paper. Start tracking what you’re doing.

Minimize your focus for the day – I get that you may have many responsibilities and 20 things you have to keep track of (as I do with many client projects). That doesn’t mean you can’t focus on key tasks are projects. Keep your focus to 3-5 key items.

Work on those 3-5 key items first – Get your edge for the day and get off to the right start. This may be the most important point I’m making.

Keep your 3-5 in front of you and keep track of what’s next (what action you have to take or if you’re waiting on something from someone)

Keep a secondary list of other items – I keep a full list of projects and actions in Toodledo (app and online tool) and I utilize the GTD methodology. This is important. It allows you to feel comfortable with what you’re not doing so you can focus. Don’t underestimate this – subconsciously you will play ping pong with yourself on wondering what’s falling through the cracks.

Some key points of how I use my time tracker (I call it my daily tracker or performance tracker because it’s more than time) **Downloadable excel tracker is at the end of this post.

  1. First off, Do what works for you – You have to play around with this. It’s a never-ending process. I’ve included my template as an excel doc – make it your own. This is just an example of what I do.
  2. Track your calendar – I keep mine on this tracker because it’s in front of me. I think of my tracker as a playbook for the day. It’s like a football coach who has a one page laminated copy of all the plays. It’s easy to refer back to.
  3. Flow Chart – I like to track my energy and stress level. I don’t refer to it as “stress”. I actually refer to it as “peace” so it’s a positive twist. I track from 1-10, with 10 being the highest. Without fail, my energy goes down throughout the day. Taking breaks and eating right really help me keep it sustainable though (I find that anything below a 7 really dampers my focus).
  4. Most Important Tasks/Projects – As I said above, it’s in front of me and allows me to bang these out at the start of the day and track the status throughout.
  5. Most Important Tasks/Projects – As I said above, it’s in front of me and allows me to bang these out at the start of the day and track the status throughout.
  6. Workout – I simply put what’s planned (and the time) and then track what I actually did.
  7. Time – I like to make this a game. I keep track of rounds. I think of it like an athlete. I track the time I start and put a finish time (planned). Next, is and actual time I finish. Then, the planned task and the type (some ideas of types are Action, Defining my Work, Meeting, Break). Doing this really helps me realize when I need to take a break. Breaks are important and they deserve a place on this board. I count my breaks as actual rounds.

So, there it is. Please contact me with any questions. I try to keep this as simple as possible. Remember, do what works for you.

Here is the tracker:

Daily Tracker Template and Example_August 2012

Thanks for reading!

We’d love to hear any tips and tricks you use. Please leave a comment and let us know.

Feel free to share this document with anyone who may benefit. Who knows – you may just change someone’s life by giving them this : )

In other news – I have a productivity app that’s in development. I’ll be sending out a link for you to join the beta group. So excited to share this with you….been a long time coming (at least in my head).


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