Ever hit a wall where you’re like, “Oh my gosh – where has the day gone?”
Do you ever think to yourself, “I can’t BELIEVE I still haven’t done __X, Y, and Z__?!”
Does the idea of taking a break totally freak you out or make you feel like a lazy, good-for-nothing-preneur?
I totally get it. Congrats – you’re me.
Side effects of not having a handle on time management include, but are not limited to…
- feeling like a failure because you get nothing done.
- guilt-ridden emotions because you think you’re not there enough for your clients / customers.
- aggravation watching others online who seem more successful than you. (Hint: they’re not. They wear pants and put them on the same way. I swear to you this is the truth.)
- a proneness to melting down due to total overwhelm – and feeling like you can’t do anything.
- looking up potentially new careers on local job sites – “Crossing guard, eh? Sounds interesting. I can hold a sign, can’t I? Crossing guards don’t have email inboxes, do they?”
I get it.
Jokes aside, not having a handle on your time is no laughing matter. Doing a time audit (the total, unedited log of which is below) was immensely powerful for me. I did it over the course of 3 work days (one of which was a Nor’easter which knocked out power… but I digress.)
Before I tell you why time auditing is an amazing way to get a handle on time management, I should tell you what a time audit is…
To perform a time audit is to log your activities down to the minute for a set period of time either on paper or on your device.
YES! It’s really that simple.
Doing a time audit has the following positive effects…
- Accountability to not screw around or waste time shopping online or checking Facebook for no reason. You become more conscious of your time because you’re writing it down. (Knowing you’ll publish it amplifies your accountability – so this is a good blogging opportunity!)
- Happier because you usually end up realizing you do a lot more in a day than you give yourself credit for. Seeing the list of accomplishments at the end of the day gives you empirical proof that you’re not a failure. Actually, you’ll watch a stark improvement in my mood over the three days of the audit below and be like – wow – she’s seriously happier!
- More aware when it comes to the activities that take you the longest! If certain activities take you away for much of the day, that’s time spent not selling your products or servicing your existing customer base. These tasks are often ones you should delegate unless you totally enjoy doing them.
- Awareness (again) of your emotions and triggers. I didn’t realize my time audit would also be a feelings diary – but by writing down things that were happening, I could understand where my emotions were coming from – which was very empowering.
- Mental decluttering is gonna come up for you. And you’re going to love it. I realized that mental clutter (like the Kate Spade incident you’ll see below) takes up useful space in your brain. Not taking care of tasks that seem unimportant from a logical perspective might still bug you more than you think! Some things fall in to this category: personal errands, administrative tasks that really need to be completed by you, the dry cleaning you forgot to pick up. You realize in the course of the time audit that the mental clutter is going to make you WAY less creative and less effective professionally. So don’t underestimate how a bunch of small, unimportant tasks can join forces into a big thing weighing on your mind.
- Improved memory, increased energy, and reduced klutziness. When you feel like you don’t have a handle on time, you get a big heaping serving of anxiety. And when you’re anxious or overwhelmed, you’re more apt to drop things by accident like forget appointments, sleep later, spill coffee on the car seat, drop your makeup in the toilet, slip on a banana peel, or walk into a wall. There’s scientific evidence to back this up so I’m not whistling dixie. (See here.)
Without further ado, welcome to 3 days in the life of Liz Theresa.
Thursday, March 1
8am – 9am: Wake up, primp for the day, and arrive at my office by 9am.
9am – 10am: Perform a podcast interview with Ashley from Dash of Social.
10am – 10:12am – Ask the office downstairs if they need coffee because I’m going to Dunkin’ Donuts and would like to be polite. (Someone in my building asks me to help him buy something on Amazon for the upteenth time – and I don’t know why I’m required to help this person just because I work in technology when I have paying clients that need me more.) ???
10:12am – 10:45am – Go to Dunkin’ Donuts steaming mad because of the Amazon incident, arrive back at my office and realize I don’t have my notes.
10:45am – 11:21am – Because I don’t have my notes (the triggering event here), I totally freak out and start to melt down thinking that I’m a failure and that I’ve let my clients down. Note: I haven’t meditated today in an effort to save time. If I had meditated, I would not have lost my temper. I use this time to express my feelings and vent to close friends.
11:21am – 1:01pm – Run to Target because I’m out of food in the house and I need to leave the office to get away from the feelings of anger. I stop and grab a sandwich on my way home. Once I’m home, I start chronicling the ways I’ve spent time today in order to see where my time is going. I’m trying to be mentally forgiving of myself for getting upset. I open all the windows because it’s over 60 degrees and sunny – and the house smells like the dishes I didn’t do last night.
1:02pm – 1:04pm – I check this calendar to see if I have any calls and remember quickly I canceled my calls for today. I checked in with friends to let them know I’m okay and that my emotional episode has passed. Writing this down provides me a sense of calm. Time logs will be more detailed for the rest of the day.
1:04pm – 1:05pm – Assist my graphic designer by answering a quick question she had about a project.
1:05pm – 1:06pm – Retrieve my notes and realize one of the projects is already delegated or completed. Phew!
1:06pm – I find a note that doesn’t make sense anymore – or I don’t know what it’s about. I throw it away hoping it doesn’t matter.
1:07pm – 1:13pm – I realize I forgot to introduce a podcast host who had me on her show to my client Andrea Owen. I’m going to do this right now. I throw away this piece of paper now that I’ve addressed this!
1:13pm – 1:42pm – I decide now is the time to finally call Kate Spade to handle why my handbag is driving me insane. For those who don’t know, my handbag strap has been getting tangled in my hair and constantly falls off my shoulder. I love the bag – but for the money you spend on this stuff, something this small can feel huge and drive you crazy. After a series of phone calls and the realization that this bag was bought on my ex-husband and my wedding anniversary (the IRONY!), the plan is to go to Burlington on Wednesday (a day I’ll be nearby anyway with my assistant Ashley) to get a brand new bag. I’m so glad this is off my mind finally!
1:43pm – 1:47pm – Find out what time the event is on Wednesday in Waltham. Add everything (including going to Kate Spade) to my calendar. The woman from the store asked me to make a note of which bag I would want as the replacement one so I’m now adding to a to do list for me to find that out. I’m going to use Wunderlist!
1:47pm – 1:49pm – I get a snack because I’m suddenly hungry!
1:49pm – 2:09pm – I start the project I was late on that’s been plaguing my mind. I delegate 3 items from this project which alleviates so much stress! Talk about mental clutter (like Kate Spade) fogging my ability to proceed with work!
2:09pm – 2:16pm – I hear a bunch of cars beep at each other out the window and continue with the last part of the aforementioned project. I respond to a customer technical question before I do this – and then get back to my project. I assign it to myself in fuller detail so I can now throw away these pieces of paper! I set a deadline for Monday in hopes I can meet that realistically.
2:16pm – 2:24pm – Personal hygienic tasks.
2:25pm – 3:00pm – Start working on email blast for a client.
3:00pm – 3:20pm – Phone call with client to confirm design direction for client’s homepage.
3:20pm – 3:26pm – Tweak email I just wrote.
3:26pm – 3:35pm – Chatted with a friend briefly via Hangouts and cleaned some emails.
3:35pm – 3:43pm – Answered all q’s related to a web design project to keep wheels moving.
3:44pm – 3:48pm – Illustrated logo concept and delegated finessing.
3:48pm – 4:08pm – Took care of tweaks to client design (the person I was late on a different project for) so that way they had a deliverable today.
4:08pm – 4:11pm – Personal hygiene. Closed all the windows because it got chilly in here.
4:11pm – 4:13pm – Ask Zack if he could do a tutorial session with someone on my behalf.
4:13pm – 4:30pm – Delegated tweaks for client website.
4:31pm – 4:36pm – Log water intake in Fitbit and handle a challenging email. Fighting the urge to avoid the email and go on to something else. It’s worth noting that the difficult email from this morning, upon a second read, wasn’t that difficult at all. This all depends on mindset. Handled this!
4:36pm – 4:39pm – Replying to email of a client who wants to proceed on a project. Given the overwhelm, I’m definitely going to take the project – but mostly because I feel more in control of my time due to this audit.
4:40 – 5:08 – Pay contractors, zero out inbox!
5:09 – Assign myself to do the quickie event flyer.
5:10 – 5:17pm – Delegate logo for my brother.
5:17pm – 5:45pm – Text James and call mom to check in. Check the weather forecast. Put groceries away.
Friday, March 2
8:25am – 9:09am – Woke up, drank ginger ale, made sauce for tonight’s dinner, got ready, and left the house.
9:09am – 9:45am – Arrived at work, applied makeup, and reopened time audit here on my site to continue time tracking.
9:45am – 10:12am – Clean out and zero inbox (work and personal.) Create a graphic for someone who needed it. Installed FontAwesome in Photoshop! Wow! This will save me lots of time in the future. Proceed with work for the day.
10:13am – 10:26am – Work on press page for a website design client.
10:26am – 10:27am – Check time clock in Freshbooks for a client.
10:27am – 10:28am – Take an aspirin.
10:28am – 10:54am – Back to work on press page.
10:54am – 10:58am – Personal hygiene.
10:58am – 12:20pm – FINISH that gosh darn press page! Asked client for details on filling in some blanks.
12:21pm – 12:30pm – Zeroed inbox once more!
12:30pm – 12:51pm – Personal hygiene and select where to get lunch! Placed order and zeroed inbox.
12:51pm – 1:28pm – Pack the books people won from the FB group! Give design feedback to Jules for a quick graphic. Zero inbox.
1:29pm – 2:01pm – Eat lunch!
2:01pm – 2:05pm – Put away mailing supplies. Check emails, but don’t reply.
2:05pm – 2:32pm – Splice Ashley’s podcast for Monday!
2:32pm – 2:45pm – Order video intros for use in our videos!
2:45pm – 3:59pm – Edit all 7 of my videos, and all 7 of Ashley’s videos for the virtual summit we’re a part of.
4:00pm – 4:05pm – Take break!
4:05pm – 4:30pm – Email Catch-up (only the easy ones) and some PMing.
4:30pm – 4:32pm – Reply to web design client email. Throw away paper I don’t need that has video details on it.
4:33pm – 4:37pm – Finally give tweaks for completed site dev. I’d neglected to address until now.
4:37pm – 4:41pm – Assign work internally! Yay! Working on my own business.
4:41pm -My office lost power – didn’t have it for half the weekend and hosted my parents (who didn’t have power for the other half of the weekend.) Weekend. What weekend??
Monday, March 5
8:40am – Wake up late. Oops.
8:40am – 8:59am – Make coffee and do some dishes.
9:00am – 10:00am – Be interviewed by Bridgewater State University for an alumni profile.
10:00am – 10:12am – Personal hygeine. Clean personal inbox and work inbox. Reply to quick emails and reschedule 1 call for later today.
10:13am – 10:58am – Reopen this time audit. Finish the dishes. Have breakfast! Get dressed, Prep stuff to take back to the mall this afternoon. Brush teeth. Do mud mask and personal hygiene.
10:59am – 11:45am – Start second print-ready one-sheeter brochure for client.
11:45am – 12:05pm – Consultation.
12:05pm – 12:46pm – Remove face mask. Continue one-sheeter.
12:46pm – 1:06pm – Consultation
1:07pm – 1:39pm – Send information for moving forward to prospect and continue work on one-sheeter.
1:39pm – 2:09pm – Consultation
2:10pm – 3:08pm – One Sheeter work.
3:08pm – 5:20pm – Run errands and get hair cut.
5:20pm – 5:38pm – Text Ashley and call Mom due to overwhelm. Continue working.
5:38pm – Review the video intros we ordered.
Wanna be a lead magnet?
It starts with using better words on your website. Improving your copy is the absolute easiest, quickest, and most cost effective way to get more clients and cash rolling in. Fill out the form below to download my FREE copywriting training and you'll also get updates from me.