Are you constantly working on your business, but at the end of the day, don’t really know what you accomplished?
Do you feel discouraged at how long it’s taking you to meet a goal or deadline?
Do you often spend an hour on something that should only take 20 minutes?
If so, don’t worry. You are not alone.
If you’re struggling to get through your daily to-do list because of distractions, I have a simple exercise that will help you see where you’re wasting your time and help you go from a busy day to a productive day.
Busy versus Productivity
Many small business owners have this struggle. They’re constantly working, but most days they don’t feel like they’re accomplishing as much as they would like. Granted most things take time and hard work, at the end of the day you should be able to look back and feel like you did… something.
There’s a big difference in staying busy in order to accomplish something specific and staying busy just to feel like you’re getting things done. You want to be productive. You want to look back and see results.
All businesses have those small, mundane, everyday tasks that need to get done. Those things alone can keep you tied up for hours, but they’re not always the best use of your time if you’re looking to get results with your business.
You need to learn to leverage your time to make it count.
You’re Playing Favorites
Maybe you’ve put off writing that sales page for your new product because you really dislike that whole process and decided that you’d write a blog post instead. Then later, instead of tackling that sales page, you decide to tackle your inbox because it’s piling up. Before you know it, the work day is almost over and you’ve barely written anything for your sale page. You slap something together just so you can mark it off your to-do list and get it done. Whew! Glad that’s over.
When you stay busy all day doing low-leverage tasks or tasks that aren’t getting you closer to reaching your goals, then you’re just doing busywork and you aren’t being productive. You’re no closer to the end result, your goal, than you were when you began the day.
We’re all guilty of it. There are some things we really detest. Some things we just keep putting off, even though we know we should be doing them. So instead of doing what we know we should do, we fill that time with busywork… doing things that may be beneficial at some point in the future, but not really beneficial at the moment.
It’s a battle of our own will between what we should do and what we’d rather do.
The Solution: Evaluate Your Time & Know Your Distractions
Brain dumps, to-do lists, schedules, creating mental whitespace, goals, and leveraging. It’s all a part of learning to manage time and make the most of what you’ve got. But before you start worrying about all of this and trying to improve your skills, you’ve got to know where you’re at right now…today.
What things are you doing during the day? Which ones were on your to-do list? How many were high-leverage tasks versus low-leverage tasks? How much time did you spend on each thing? Did you complete each task from start to finish or did you start and stop several times?
The following time management exercise will help you see where you’re spending your time as well as help you recognize what things are distracting you from getting done what you need to.
Tip: Keep A Time Journal
You’ve heard of food journals where you write down everything that you eat during the day. Well this is a time management exercise that’s like a food journal, but for time instead.
Starting tomorrow, write down everything you do during your work day, including the start time and stop time for each task, for a full 3 days. This will give you a good overview of how you’re spending your time.
Once you’re finished, answer the above questions.
Feel free to print the worksheets below to help you track and evaluate your time.
Long Story Short
Knowing how you spend your time and what exactly is pulling your attention away from work is a sure fire way to help you hone in on what’s keeping you from being more productive during your day.
Recognize the areas you’re struggling in and take action. Make the changes you need to make and watch just how much your productivity level increases.