I’ve read in Be the Master how you focus on managing your time. But I get yanked around a lot at work – email, meetings, crises, and I suppose some Facebook and Twitter time. How do I figure out where it’s being wasted?
Well, first, time isn’t necessarily “wasted.” I do try to track my recreational time spent while working — e.g., Facebook and such. Not because it’s wasted; you need some brain-rest-time now and then. You just don’t want it out of control. The waste comes when you’re trying to task-switch too often, rather than being able to focus on one thing for a productive amount of time.
I use a Timeular ZEI. Not joking, and not earning commissions on them. It’s got eight sides, and I set them up like this:
- Communications. I flip to this side whenever I’m doing email, Slack, or other communications.
- Recreation. Whenever I’m doing something non-work-related.
- Administrative. Stuff like expense reports.
- Staring. Seriously, I do just sit and think a good bit sometimes, and so I flip to this side.
- Off the clock. Meals, bio-breaks.
- Other work. Work-related stuff not covered by one of the above. Productive things, not administrative overhead.
It’s easy to just flip this thing as you move between tasks, and I can go back at the end of the week and start looking for patterns. This is how I leaned that I need to explicitly block off writing time, because I wasn’t getting the 2+ solid hours I need to make writing productive. It’s how I learned to block administrative time for the end of the day and ignore it until then – I was burning 2-3 minutes throughout the day, interrupting other things.
Your sides will be labeled differently, but give it a shot. Ideally, you’ll see some patterns and can make some improvements and adjustments. And you obviously don’t need to buy the gadget; you can do just as well with paper. I’m just not terribly disciplined about journal-keeping in that way, and having a gadget to flip gets me to actually do it. I just have to be a bit careful to not use it as a fidget spinner, which means I’ve got fidgeting stuff on my desk as well. I cannot be on a call, for some reason, without having something in my hands to fiddle with.