Do you know exactly how you spend your time? What sounds like an annoying and cumbersome way to waste time may become an eye-opener and helps you to make better choices about using your time. Use time tracking to find out where your precious time is really spent and find margin to pursue your dreams.
My hearts pumps, heat in my cheeks. 8 hours, it says.
Sleepless in bed, reading a chapter in this book of a well-known productivity expert. A fellow mom. One that has studied countless other moms who live their dreams. How? I came across her productivity secret. Her only baby attends daycare for eight hours a day, on five days a week, AND she has a cleaning lady coming over.
C’mon. That’s 40 hours each week to fill with whatever you want. Obviously, you can pursue your dreams in 40 hours a week you have to yourself.
I look at my baby girl sleeping peacefully next to me. Where did her first years go? What have I been doing all that time?? I feel like I have nothing accomplished and cared for a little one 24/7. Did I?
I know I can’t do it all. You can’t, either, and you should not. That is why focusing on goals that matter is vitally important. In this post you will learn why and how you can find focus and finally crush your big goal. Please read it, if you have a lot on your plate.
But how do other moms achieve so much more?? The book of the productivity expert didn’t give me the answer I wanted. Of course, I could give away my little one. But I didn’t want her in daycare that early, even if it was in the budget, and I didn’t have someone in my family who could take her a few hours. I’m the mom, 24/7. And still, I wanted to do more than caring for her.
I wasn’t sure if I could.
Can an activity log help you be more productive?
Many moms seem to be so much more productive and successful than others. They seem to get a lot more done and yet we all have the same 168 hours in a week. If you have a lot on your plate and little means to hire out, be careful where you invest your finite resource of time.
Where exactly do you spend that resource? Homemaking and raising little ones. There is no margin. Period.
That was always my initial answer, too. But I had no clue where the heck my 168 hours go exactly.
If you plan like supermom and take some time for strategic planning in planning sessions you will not succeed if you can’t find time slots to fill out with actions steps.
Keeping a time log is supposed to help.
I know. Seems like extra work and a cumbersome task. You might think you have no margin anyway to make better use of your time. Those were the reasons why I resisted doing it myself for a long time.
At the same time, I was reading every little thing about time management I could find. Most authors suggest time tracking or keeping an activity log at some point. So, what is reading good for if you don’t follow through with action? I decided that I give it a try … and found some ugly true facts about my use of time.
I encourage you to give time tracking a try and keep an activity log for some time. Take a hard look at how you really spend your time.
Why time tracking can be beneficial for you
Still not convinced to put effort into time-tracking? If we believe studies most people have a false idea about where they spend their time. They typically overestimate the hours spent working and underestimate time slept or watching TV. We see ourselves working sooo hard and being pinched for fun time.
Maybe this is because time flies when we do fun things.
I was assuming that my time spent in bed equals time sleeping. In fact, the first 45 minutes to an hour I was checking my ebook collection, browsing Pinterest, or planning the next day. While I was telling myself and everyone else, I would be going to sleep at 10, it was in fact 11 when all lights went out. I would be whining that, for some reason, I needed more sleep than others making it impossible to get up earlier.
I’m glad that I was sleep-trained by my toddler and now manage my sleep so much better which makes me happier and more productive. Read how I learned to sleep soundly in 10 lessons taught by my toddler girl in this post.
Managing your time and sleep better will help you reach your goals. For example, you could get up an hour earlier to work on a project that you didn’t find time for during the day. One hour each day spent on learning another language would make you fluent soon. You could spend one hour working out, reading scripture, writing, or meditating each day.
Knowing what you do with your time will help you find margin. It may also help you make better plans. This is crucial if you are about to start some freelancing endeavor like blogging, writing or sewing. You could learn and train new skills or have some me-time to stay sane and happy.
If you want to know how to take your planning to the next level be sure to read this post on how to plan like supermom and achieve all your goals!
How to track your time using pen and paper
I decided to go with pen and paper. I hardly ever turn on my laptop when my little one is around and seldom my phone. If I want something I have access to ALL THE TIME I use an old-fashioned notebook and a pen. (That is also what I use for my planning sessions. Learn in this post how often you should have a little planning session to be a success at anything.)
You can write down each activity you start with starting time to keep an effective activity log.
Even better and more convenient is using a printable activity log. Download your free time-tracking printable from the resource library for subscribers. The time log sheet is divided into increments of 15 minutes and covers 24 hours. You can track your entire day or just the time spent working for your freelance business.
The free activity log for moms also has columns to easily track recurring activities or sleeping time. This way, you can fill it out by checking the boxes. It’s very convenient when you have a schedule you follow each day.
Paperless method of time-tracking
If you want to go paperless, get the digital spreadsheet. It covers one entire day to analyze and has columns for your most frequent activities. You can adjust it to your needs. Find the digital time-tracking spreadsheet in the free resource library for subscribers. Make a copy for yourself and you are ready to go.
You might want to try online time tracking software. Toggl is an online tool that helps you track your time for certain activities. The basic version is free to use. I often used it for freelance orders that were paid by hours worked. It is great to work with at the desk. You will also find Toggl Apps for iPhone and Android for mobile time-tracking.
I have not used any phone app for time tracking so far. But you may be one of the persons who check their phone often? Then you will find a lot of apps that help you track your activities. Save my Time, for example, is free. The app asks you what you did since you last checked your phone anytime you unlock the screen. Another free time tracker for Android phones is Gleeo Time Tracker where you can track how much time goes into a specific task.
In this post by Hubstaff, you will find a short review of their top choices of 11 iPhone time tracking apps, many of which are free.
What you will learn from time tracking
You will get the best results if you track your time spent as precise as you can and for how long as you can. That way, you will have more data to analyze and find what typically happens to your 168 hours. You can also take one day here and there in the course of several months. Finally, evaluate how you spend your time. What is given, where can you get more organized or cut down? Be brutally honest and decide if your time is spent wisely. Consider your focus goals for this season of your life!
The key information I have been taking out of time tracking is that I have only little margin. Yet, there is some!
Unfortunately, I spent a lot of it browsing the internet or watching TV shows. I told you. The ugly truth will show up. But it helps me make better choices now. I can prepare actions plans for the little time slots I have and hit the ground running when they pop up.
Ready for some serious goal-crushing?