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We all have the same 24 hours in a day, but some people seem to get so much more done during that same time frame.
Do you ever wonder how these people seem to have time to get everything done?
The key is to find out what you’re currently doing and learn how to make better use of your time.
Find Out How You’re Spending Your Physical Time
First you’ll need to figure out what you’ve got going on.
- To do this, grab a weekly calendar that’s broken down by time. You can download and print this out if you need one.
- Grab 2 different colored writing utensils and or highlighters.
- Start at the time you wake up and label it one color.
- Next label the time you go to sleep.
It’s important that you’re labeling the actual time you do these activities, not the time you would like to wake up or go to sleep.
- Block out the times you spend preparing and eating all of your meals for the day.
- Block out the time you spend watching TV or working on hobbies.
- In a different color, label the time it takes you to get ready in the morning, excluding breakfast.
- If you work outside the home, take the kids to school, or have some other daily obligation, block out your commute time to and from your destination. Also, block out the time you spend there.
- Block out family and/or personal time daily.
- Block out time for any meetings, church, or other obligations you may have during the week.
Find Out How You’re Spending Time Online
Now that you’ve organized your physical time, it’s time to find out how you’re spending time online.
I’d like for you to track how you spend your day online for at least one day.
The best way I’ve found to do this is by using RescueTime. For the purposes of this exercise, you’ll only need to use their free account.
Once you sign up for RescueTime you’ll need to install the app on your computer. Currently, you can install it on Mac, Windows, or Linux computers. You can also install it on Android devices.
If you don’t have an Android device I would strongly recommend you remove all social media, games or shopping apps from your phone on the day you’re doing this experiment. That way you’re forced to only use them from a computer and can accurately track how much time you spend on each one daily.
Alternatively, you can manually track this time. Just make sure you’re doing it accurately. Remember that this is not something you’ll be publishing to the world; it’s something that you need to see in order to uncomplicate your life a bit. So try to be as accurate as possible.
I have a feeling that this experiment is going to show you some things about your online habits that you didn’t want to know. But this is good because you’re trying to figure out where your time is going.
Figure Out Where You’re Wasting Time
After you’re written out how you’re spending your physical time and have spent a day tracking your online activity, it’s time to evaluate everything.
On your weekly calendar, circle any areas of time spent watching TV. In order to maximize your time, you should limit the amount of TV you watch to no more than 2 hours per day. Not only is it more productive, but it’ll help you live longer.
Next it’s time to look at your RescueTime report. You’ll notice that your time is categorized into Productive Time and Distractions. You may also have some things labeled as Uncategorized. Take the time to go through those and properly label them.
Once you’ve done that, notice all the time you spend on distractions? That’s where your time is going. That’s part of the reason why you feel like you don’t have time to do anything.
Here’s How I Minimized My Social Media Time
About a year ago I took social media off my phone. I used to be on social media all the time. But now I actually don’t even like it. So for me, it’s not that big a deal.
If you’re spending a lot of your time on social networks I would suggest you just take the apps off your phone. I only keep the Facebook Pages and Groups app on mine.
Aside from that, I use Buffer to schedule social media posts. That’s all I have on my phone.
The reason I did that was because I would go on Facebook to look up something and 2 hours later find myself looking at the adventures of a lost Tigger at the airport. Then I’d remember that I never even looked up the information I initially went to look for. And the cycle continued.
These days I’ve set up limits in RescueTime on how much time I can spend on distractions per day (2 hours.) If you have the premium version you can even block out distracting websites. Which is something you may want to consider if you have absolutely no self-control when it comes to these online distractions.
What To Do About Other Distractions?
Aside from social media, take a look at all the areas where you’re wasting time on distractions. Next, come up with a plan for eliminating them daily.
It’s a little harder to do this on an iPhone since you can’t track everything you do on there. As a general rule, you should limit the time you spend on your phone. Your loved ones will appreciate it!
Figure Out Areas Where You Can Maximize Your Time
The last thing you should do is find areas where you can make the most of your time.
Here are some suggestions:
- Meal Prep – Make most of your meals for the week in mass quantities. Then, either freeze them or store them in the fridge. While it takes some planning and time, it’ll free up more time for you during the week.
- Do you have a full-time job? Try cutting your lunch time in half for eating, and spending the other half doing something for your business.
- If you’re getting the correct amount of sleep (7–8 hours,) try waking up a little bit earlier, or staying up a little later (if it’ll still keep you within the healthy sleep range.)
- Plan your time in advance. Check out Episode 38 of my podcast for the method I use to plan my time.
Time Is Priceless
If you lose love, you can love again. If you lose money, you can get money again. But once you lose time, that moment is gone forever.
By being more conscious of the way you use your time, you can be a more productive person. Limiting time spent on entertainment, such as watching TV or being on social media, can be tough at first. But your family, your business, and your sanity will thank you for it in the long run.
In what areas can you use improvement when it comes to time management? If you have any time management hacks not mentioned in this post, please share in the comments below!
Post title and topic suggested by Sharisse.
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Cindy Rodriguez is the host of the Start Fierce Business Podcast. When she’s not interviewing awesome entrepreneurs, she’s working on growing her startup, going to Disney World with her daughter, or reading a book.