Your Time Is Your Life
Everyone gets 24 hours in a day, yet some people accomplish a great deal more in that day than others. Although most people rarely think of it this way, “time” is simply another word for “life.”It’s easy to see why good time management is critical. After all, you wouldn’t let your employees, families and friends shorten the days of your life, so why are you letting them steal your time? Time is your single most precious resource, and it’s one that only you can protect. The good news, however, is that learning to manage your time is like any other skill. All it takes is a little practice and a willingness to develop some new habits.
Who is stealing your time?
List below the top ten time consuming activities of your day.
Tracking the Flow of Your Day
The first step is to understand how you currently spend your time. Using the Daily Time Log templatein this booklet, you’re going to track the flow of your time by logging everything you do throughout every day for two weeks. Don’t be surprised if you find this tool so valuable you’ll want to continue using it as part of your ongoing time management system.
Before you begin using the Daily Time Log, you’ll need to set up some categories to classify your activities (at least 6 categories but not more than 12). You’ll use these activity categories to filter the details from your Daily Time Logs which will help you see where you spend your time and lead you to new ideas for better time management. What categories should you choose? Choose the ones thatwork for you. For example, if you want to know what type of work you’re spending time doing you might select categories like “With Parents,” “Administration,” “Management,” “Fee Collection,” “Rosters,” “Operations” etc. Or you might wish to understand the interruptions that fill your day, so you might choose categories like “Telephone Calls,” “Meetings,” “Computer Problems,” “Educator Problems,” “Parent Problems”, “Email”etc.
Your activity categories should be:
- Meaningful toyou(andothersifappropriate)andrelevanttowhatyou’retryingtoquantify
- Self-defining-Use words that clearly define thecategory
- Mutuallyexclusive with littleornooverlapamongdifferentcategories
- Concise-Just a word or two.
The Daily Time Log
The Daily Time Log has five columns:
- Time-Exact time you begin anactivity.
- Duration-Amount of time you spend on theactivity.
- Category-Classification for the activity, according to categories you determinedearlier.
- Work Type-Strategic Work versus Tactical Work (ie work “on” the business versus work “in” the business).
When you begin your day, pull out a blank Daily Time Log and fill in your name and the date. Next, jot down the time, a brief description of the activity you’re performing, the category for that activity, and whether it’s Strategic or Tactical Work. Every time you change activities, enter the time, activity description, category, and work type for the new activity.
Be sure to fill out your Daily Time Log as you go, rather than after the work. You lose too much information if you wait. At the end of the day check your Daily Time Log to make sure it’s complete. Fill out the “Duration” column for every line-item, and add the column todetermine Total Duration.
Sample of a Daily Time Log
|Time||Duration||Activity Description||Category||Work Type|
|7:00am||22 min||Finding staff replacement||Admin||Tactical|
|7:22am||17 min||Parent issue 'child went home dirty nappy'||Complaints||Tactical|
|7:39am||11 min||Child crying went to room to see why||Emergency||Tactical|
|7:50am||9 min||Chatting with parent||Parent||Tactical|
Total Durations _________
Hint. Neat Daily Time Logs with all activities conveniently grouped in 30-minute and 60-minute increments are dead give-aways that you’re not tracking the actual flow of your day (or your time management skills are so well developed that you don’t need this Business Development Process).
Understanding Your Time Management: Skim, Summarise and Analyse
When you’ve completed Daily Time Logs for two weeks, you will have enough information to provide a reliable understanding of your time management patterns. The best way to go about the analysis is to “skim, summarise and analyse.”
First, skim through all your Daily Time Logs to get a feel for the flow of your days. These hints might help:
- Notice the number of line-items you completed each day as well as the average duration of your activities.
- Are there a lot of entries for less than 15 minutes?
- How many activities were uninterrupted for more than one hour?
- Are there any trends regarding mornings, lunchtime, afternoons, or certain days of the week?
- How much time do you spend on Strategic versus Tactical Work?
- How do your first Daily Time Logs compare to your last ones? You should notice two immediate results from skimming through your Daily Time Logs.
First, you’ll see specifically what you do during the day and how long everything takes. You can expect some surprises. For example, random phone calls may be eating up your day, or you might be spending too much time on work you could delegate. Your actual “productive” time is probably much less than you thought. Your day may be fragmented into tiny time segments with no long stretches for concentrated, efficient work.
Second, logging every activity you undertake will make you more conscious of your time, and that alone will begin to improve your time management.
The Time Log Summary
Using the Time Log Summary in this booklet, transfer the data from your Daily Time Logs into the activity categories you created earlier. This will help you see the big picture of how you spend your time and provide insights for better time management.
The Time Log Summary has three types of columns:
- Category – listthecategoriesusedinyourDailyTimeLogs.
- Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 etc – sort by category and enter the data from each Daily TimeLog.
- Average of items in each row. It’s almost a sure bet that you’ll find more surprises. For example, nominated supervisors often find they spend very little time managing the service and the majority of their time dealing with issues educators should be able to solve.
The Time Log Summary Example
|Category||Day 1||Day 2||Day 3||Day 4||Day 5||Average|
Creating Your Daily Routine
Let’s take what you’ve learned so far and create a tool to help you establish all these new habits- your Daily Routine. The Daily Routine is a pre-defined schedule for your typical workday that maximises the time you spend on productive work by:
- Conforming to the natural flow of yourday
- Corresponding with your natural rhythms taking into consideration when you’re at your best for certaintasks
- Batching like tasks for greaterefficiency
- Setting aside dedicated time for uninterrupted Business Development work “on” the business.
What if you’re one of those people whose business is so irregular that it’s impossible to stick to a daily routine? Create a Daily Routine anyway. It’s always possible to create routine in your day, if only for some fraction of the day. And it’s worth doing. For those completely unpredictable periods of the day, create an “ideal” routine, knowing that you’ll have to be flexible, but also knowing that keeping the “ideal” day in mind will bias you toward productive, rather than random, use of your time.
Prioritising the Flow of Your Day
The Daily Priorities Template is a prioritisation tool. It has five sections:
- Secondary Priorities -Proceed with these items only when you have completed all of your highpriorities.
- People -Any individuals you need tocontact.
- Telephone Calls -Any calls you want toremember.
You should start using this tool immediately as part of your Daily Routine.
Monitoring Your Time Management
You should periodically re-evaluate how you’re spending your time, especially in the early months when you’re breaking old habits and establishing new ones. You simply resume filling out the Daily Time Logs as before. After you’ve done this for a few days, fill in your Daily Time Logs and compare them to your original results. It’s an objective way to gauge your progress, and you should see significant, long-term improvements in your time management.
Eliminating Your Time Bandits
A Time Bandit is anything that steals your time-a new employee, a talkative vendor, the telephone, your mother-in-law, broken office equipment, an older computer with too little memory, even yourself. The first step to managing your time better is understanding who or what is stealing it from you. Take a moment now to identify your Time Bandits.
Daily Time Log Template
Name: Day: Date:
|Time||Duration||Activity Description||Category||Work Type|
Complete over a two week period