For at least three days, maintain a detailed account of your activities, this will tell you where you are spending your valuable time. A week could be better, particularly if your business is cyclical and certain things come up on only on certain days.
These are the steps to keeping a log:
- Note today's date, list three to six goals for the day, tasks that must get done today. Set a deadline for each one.
- Record each activity as the day progresses. Every time your attention shifts from one thing to another, write down the diverting activity, no matter how trivial.
- This means you will record all interruptions, noting their sources and reasons.
- Make a note of how much time you spend on each item.
- Set a priority for each single item.
- The point is at the end of the day you will look back and see what proportion of time was spent on high priority work.
Use the following weighting for this exercise:
1 = Important and urgent (must do)
2 = Important (should do)
3 = Routine (could do, or delegate)
4 = Wasted effort (why did I do that?)
In a comments column, record your ideas and thoughts on how you might have done things better (or been more productive). Some people like to go back and do this at the end of the day. I suggest that you make comments as you go along because they are fresh in your mind.
Once you have done this for a few days or more, you can easily see where the time wasters are, and these are the barriers to your productivity. Also you can see where you need to be more disciplined in your business!
Good luck, and stay focused!
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