Time is what we want most and what we use worst.William Penn
How Efficient Are You With Your Time?
Time. The one thing you feel like you never have enough of. But is that really true? It may be time to sit down and really analyze your time efficiency
I’ve always considered myself someone who is pretty efficient with her time. Lately, that has not been the case. I’ve been feeling pretty frazzled.
I know when I start feeling this way that something’s going on and I need to figure it out stat. Otherwise I end up cranky, and that’s not pretty at all. So I ran a time audit on my life for one week.
A time audit is a way to figure out what the heck is happening with your time. When you find yourself making comments about not having enough time, you know you need to do an audit.
I did my time audit for before work, after work, and days off. I picked these areas because these are the times I wasn’t getting things done that felt I should be. Work and sleep time audits can be very helpful too if these are your problem areas.
- Total hours per week: 168 –
- Time spent sleeping: 52.5 –
- Time spent working (with commute): 47.5 =
- Total time available: 65 hours
Wow, that looks like quite a bit of time to work with doesn’t it? So let’s figure out what’s going on with my time.
My Time Audit Results
- Total time available: 65
- Cooking: 4
- Eating: 7
- Cleaning: 9
- Watching TV: 18.5
- Shopping: 2.5
- Running errands and appointments: 2
- Personal hygiene: 4.5
- Exercise: 0
- Reading: 4
- On my phone: 1.5
- Paperwork: .5
- Writing: 4
- Naps: 2
- Computer for work: 5
- Taking care of animals: 4
- Daughter’s softball: 3.5
- Socializing: 2
Do Less, Get More Done
It’s not necessarily about doing more. My goal is to get more done in less time. The last thing I want is to feel like I have to be working every minute of my day.
So right off the bat I see some things I need to get a handle on. I used to limit TV to one hour in the evenings but have definitely gotten off track there.
Why does every freaking episode have to end with a cliffhanger!? They suck you in, and before you know it, you’ve spent your whole evening binge watching TV.
No exercise last week. That’s definitely not cool. So there’s obviously some time for exercise that I can snag from watching TV.
What I also realized while doing my time audit is that many of the tasks t needed to complete took much longer than necessary. I found myself procrastinating tasks by getting easily distracted.
So let’s see how we can get a grip on some things that eat up our time. Let’s take control of our time. Remember, it’s not about doing more. It’s about being more efficient, to free up time.
Don’t Let Distraction Get the Best of You
There are times we get distracted from the things we don’t want to accomplish. When we’re in the middle of a project or a task that we don’t like, we find things to distract us.
Getting a new cup of coffee, looking at social media, making phone calls, Playing a game on our phones etc… Anything but the actual task we’re supposed to be working on.
This is why a task that should only take an hour takes three. (If it gets done at all.) Have you ever felt at the end of a busy day like you got absolutely nothing accomplished?
So how do you stay focused? How do you keep on task? Especially if the task is something you really don’t want to do?
If you don’t really like what you’re doing but have no choice but do it, give yourself incentives to finish the task. Give yourself rules for these tasks.
- I have to finish this project, then I can check out Facebook.
- If I sweep and mop the floor I can watch an episode of (your favorite show).
- I have to write this paper, then I can get a cup of coffee.
Another great tool to help you focus is the Pomodoro Method. This method is great for creating focused chunks of time to get a lot done. I will write more about this later.
Prioritize The Tough Tasks
Get the tedious tasks done first thing. Make the tasks you normally procrastinate getting done your first priority. Everything else will be a breeze after that.
Many times we waste so much time putting off the things we don’t like to do. If you do these things first, all the time spent procrastinating you can spend doing whatever you want.
Daily Priority List
- List your top 3 priorities for the day to accomplish.
- Do these items first.
- Do not put them off.
- Do not get distracted.
- Do not procrastinate.
Set a Timer
Stop avoiding the tasks you don’t want to do. They have to be done. Just do it. If the task is large and too overwhelming, set a timer. Chunk your time on the task.
When I first started doing this, I would set my timer for 20 minute increments. I would work for 20 minutes, then take a 5 minute break. Then repeat until my task was done.
This helped make the task less overwhelming. I spoke about this method briefly earlier in this article.
5 Minute Clean-up
Using a timer is great for cleaning and decluttering too. Set a timer for 5 minutes and work until the timer goes off.
This is great for anyone that tends to get overwhelmed by housework and organizing. Just work for 5 minutes at a time.
I don’t know about you, but I get super distracted by clutter. When there’s too much clutter everything feels “off” to me. I get a bit edgy and frustrated. .
Too much going on in your head? Try a mind dump. Clean out and declutter your mind. You will find you have more motivation and focus.
Have you ever gotten home from work, took one look at your house and said “screw this”? It can be quite discouraging to work all day, come home and feel like you have to work all evening.
Start good habits to keep your home decluttered.
- Make some rules.
- Train your family.
- Maintain organization
- Clean as you go
Try getting something accomplished with a cluttered workspace. It doesn’t work. You will waste time getting distracted by not being able to find things.
- Everything has a home.
- Clean up clutter when your work is done.
The Small Stuff Matters
If you can get something done in 5 minutes or less do it. Make it a habit to do things NOW.
- You walk into the kitchen to get something to drink. You see a few dirty dishes in the sink. Wash them.
- If you see something on the floor while walking by, pick it up.
- Dirty cups on the end table, pick them up.
- Living room dusty? Take 2 minutes to dust.
Don’t put the small things off. They become big things. A small mess is always easier to clean than a big mess.
Manage Your Devices
Don’t answer. Just because your phone rings doesn’t mean you have to answer it.
Don’t look. Just because you get a notification doesn’t mean you have to look at it. Turn it off.
When you’re busy working on a certain task that needs to get done, turn your phone on silent. I find this is better than airplane mode. I still see all notifications and missed calls this way.
When you do get on your phone set yourself a timer first. This is very helpful. It’s easy to get sidetracked looking through social media. Before you know it you’ve been on your phone for an hour without even realizing it.
Batch Like Tasks
Batching can be a great time saver. Most things can be batched. Here are some common things that are easily batched:
Running Errands, Shopping, Appointments, Getting Gas
Since you’re already out driving around town, these are great items to batch together. Do it once a week and it will all be done.
- If you’re already in the kitchen cooking dinner, prep tomorrow’s dinner at the same time.
- Already cutting up vegetables? Cut them for the whole week.
- Double your dinner recipe and freeze half.
- If you’re really feeling inspired, take one day to prep all of your meals for the week.
If you’re already doing a task it’s much easier to do more than to continually be starting over on a task.
- Do you have mopping supplies ready to mop the kitchen? Mop the rest of the house at the same time.
- Sweeping? Sweep all floors.
- Vacuuming? Vacuum all carpets. You get the picture.
Basically, anything that requires time for preparation should be batched. Do as much of that task as possible.
Cleaning Time Hacks
- Keep cleaning supplies in your bathroom. Every time you use the bathroom clean something. You’re already in there.
- Watching TV? Fold laundry while you watch.
- When your oven is still warm, get into the habit of wiping it out.
- Never leave a room empty handed.
- While heating something in the microwave, see how much cleaning you can get done before the timer goes off.
- Put some extra garbage bags in the bottom of your trash can. When you take out the full bag, another is ready to go.
- Don’t wear shoes in the house. This will keep you from having to sweep, mop, and vacuum so often.
More Time Hacks
- Commercial on TV? Do jumping jacks, pushups, sit ups etc.. until your show comes back on.
- Prep your day the night before.
- Say no to invitations you don’t really want to accept.
- Have a home for everything. No more wasted time looking for keys, important papers, etc…
- Get enough sleep. When you don’t get adequate sleep, you will be lacking in motivation and energy the next day.
- Use your commute time for learning. Listen to podcasts or audio books.
- Plan your week
Plan Your Week
Create a plan to become more efficient with your time. Take an hour every Sunday to plan your week. Yes it will take an hour out of your Sunday. But taking this one hour each week can actually save you several hours later, and reduce your stress level. It’s worth it.
Create a Morning Routine
Having a morning routine sets the tone for your day. Every decision you make through your day drains your mental energy. Having a routine that you stick to alleviates this constant mental strain that wears you out.
Make a Menu
So much time is wasted daily, trying to figure out what you’re going to cook for dinner. Making a menu will save you time and eliminate that daily stress.
Make a Shopping List
How many times a week do you find yourself at the grocery store? More than once = wasted time. Make a weekly list and try to stick with your plan.
Coordinate all Errands, Shopping, and Appointments
This is easy to do if you have a day off during the week. If not, you may have to schedule appointments when you can. Try to schedule as much of these things together as possible.
Make Your Priority List
Get the necessary things done first. Don’t forget to add the things you don’t like to do on this list. No distractions!
Make a Chore List
Write all the household chores down. Stick a family members name by each item. Make sure they realize they are required to do their chore.
If you live by yourself, the chores are all yours. If you practice cleaning up after yourself, your chores will be a breeze.
Go through mail and all paperwork. This may take more than an hour your first week. Especially if you’ve got piles of paperwork littering all surfaces of your home.
If this is the case just put all the paperwork in a box and go through a chunk of it each week until you get through it. Then reward yourself with something awesome. You deserve it!
Take back control of your time.
You will never find time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.Charles Buxton