Do you ever wish you had more time in the day? You can’t, of course, but you can certainly optimize. Create better productive times, acknowledge needed breaks, and more. Let’s analyze your day and brainstorm some improvements!
I use a Timeflip to track my time, something I wrote about in Be the Master. I don’t use it as some means of punishing myself for not being productive enough; I use it to baseline my time. When I have what I feel was a really good day (“good” being subjective, of course), I look at how I spent my time. As I have more of those days, I look at commonalities between them.
For example, on days when I get a lot of writing done, I tend to do that writing in the morning. That’s also when I tend to respond to more-important emails that will require more detailed thought. I’m not as good at researching in the morning as I am in the afternoons, though. I do better with late-morning meetings than afternoon meetings. I tend to take brain-breaks at about mid-morning and mid-afternoon.
Not every day is the same, of course. I have “heads-down” days, and I have “lots of meetings” days, and I have “lots of short-attention-span catching-up” days. But for any given type of day, I have a nominal “map” of how that day probably should be laid out. I know if it’s a light meeting day, and that they’re mostly in the afternoons, I can probably get some writing done in the morning. Not every meeting will be at my preferred times, but that’s fine – meetings suffer less by being “off-schedule” than writing does.
What kicks that all off, though, is being able to passively track my activities, and then later go back and decide which days are worth looking at. I obviously have a lot of less-great days, and I’ll look at those to see if it was simply because I was off-pattern or for some other reason. In the end, as I’ve been doing this, I find myself with more good days and fewer “off” days, which was the goal.