How to Master Your Time - Time Logging

Do you get tired of the guilt and fear cycle too, that you're constantly wasting your time and can't seem to get everything done?

If this sounds like you (and me and many of my clients), a good way to get a handle on your time - and whether you're really as unproductive as you fear - is to try a time log.

A time log is as simple as it sounds but can give you profound insights about your daily life.

For one week, jot down each activity that you do and the time you spent doing it. Record the time you woke up, then build the rest of the day from there with everything from brushing your teeth to daydreaming or surfing your phone.

You can make the increments as small as 1-2 minutes or as large as 15-minute cycles. I wouldn't recommend doing anything larger than 30 minutes unless it's a sustained activity, and even then, you're probably taking breaks to refill your tea, answer a text, etc.

The more detailed you are, the more information you'll have to use, but insight is more important than perfection.

The key here is to be aware in the moment of how you're spending your time (hello, Mindfulness!), and not to try to change your habits into some ideal version of yourself. Simply notice and log the time as it is.

Make sure that you're not getting too wrapped up in logging. It's okay to estimate a bit or to group little bursts of the same activity together (i.e.15 seconds texting here and 2 minutes of texting there can become 10 minutes of texting overall).

At the end of the week, count how many hours you spent on each activity. I would start with each individual activity and then group related things together into bigger categories (i.e. "showering" and "styling hair" can be combined into "getting ready for the day").

Once you have this info, you can take a look at the biggest chunks of time. Are you spending as much as you'd like in the areas that really matter to you?

My big wake-up moment when I did this exercise? I can spend HOURS every week organizing and fiddling with my podcast list. It was ridiculous how much time I was wasting putting together the perfect episode playlist and checking to see how many episodes I had left to clear out my downloads. It had become yet another to-do, and this was supposed to be an entertaining and educating experience.

Needless to say, I took a break from podcasts for a while, and when I went back to it, I kept only the ones that I truly enjoyed listening to. I don't build complicated playlists, and I go by what sounds good in the moment.

That one change saved me 6 hours of my week.

Where are you spending a lot of time on something that isn't that important to your values or goals?

Can you cut that time in half or by three quarters to give you more time for spending time with loved ones, working on a project, or simply relaxing and recharging?

Aligning our time with our values is the fastest way to organize our life into what we want the most.