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What is a Time Management Activity Log?
Do you know how you spend your time each day? Are you spending your attention in ways that contribute to maximum productivity? How can you find out what you do and how long it takes to do it each day? An easy solution, that will answer all these questions, is to create a time management activity log. Like any logging endeavor, by recording each activity and the amount of time spent on it (and even start and stop times for the activity), you can be informed. Once you are informed, you can create a schedule that maximizes your time - and that utilizes your most alert times of the day for your most involved tasks. By creating this record, you can be sure that your time management methods are used to their fullest extent.
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What Should a Time Management Activity Log Include?
A great example of a time management activity sampling log is available in our media gallery. Start with the first page, titled "List of Activities." You will notice the following columns on page one of this template:
- Start time
- End time
- Activity Description
- Activity Category
- Could Delegate?
Start and end times and duration are pretty straightforward. For each activity you engage in, record the time you started the activity (it's best if you record times as you engage in activities rather than relying upon fallible memory), the time you finished or diverted attention from the activity, and the duration spent on the activity.
Next, record a brief description of the activity, and assign the activity to a category. Were you playing games on Facebook? If so, you may record this as "entertainment." If instead you were spending time on a work project, you would categorize it as "productive work." Also, you will want to assign each activity a priority - how important was it that you were doing this activity? You can use the standard 1, 2, 3 priority system, or the urgent-important quadrants from the time management matrix as your guide. Finally, could someone else have done this task? If so, note this in your log.
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The Time Management Activity Log Schedule
You may notice that the template has a second page, with times down the left-most column and days running across the top. In order to help you visualize where your time is spent each day of the week you track your time for, you may find it helpful to graphically represent it on this sheet. Simply write the activity in the applicable time-slots. If you like, you can color-code your activity categories. At a glance, you will be able to see where your time is spent. Do you spend too much time on entertainment? Perhaps that is why you feel that you can never catch up on marketing tasks.
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Using a Time Management Activity Sampling Log to Improve Time Management
Once you know where you are spending your time, you can do something about the time suckers. First, look at your log. You may wish to highlight any low-priority or not urgent and not important activities you partook in during your logging session. How many low-priority items do you have on your log? What time did these activities occur? Was there another time they could be done (or did they have to be done at all?) Did these activities occur during low-energy times? Was there something else that should have been done in this time period?
If you notice certain times, every day, where energy is scattered, attention is super focused, or where many distractions occur, note this! You will want to create your time map from this. In fact, you may find it helpful, in your log, to record your energy level at the time of different activities.
Finally, you will use your activity sampling log to create a master schedule. Make sure to schedule sleep, meals, exercise, and, yes, even those entertainment activities. Your master schedule should be well-balanced while your activity log may be lopsided. Keep your schedule for a month and then create another time management activity log to tweak for optimal productivity.