When Chicago executives need time management coaching, sometimes all they need is greater awareness and understanding of their relationship with time. Following are tools I use to help them do just that.
I reach for the time budget when folks need to ground their weeks in more ritual. They confess they need to be doing particular activities with greater regularity, yet they don’t have them scheduled.
After creating an inventory of routine tasks, experiment with this document to plan when particular things should happen in an ideal world.
Most folks lives are not so duplicative that they can plan every segment of time. However, all of us can benefit from occasionally thinking through how we spend our weeks, and scheduling associating particular days/day parts with activities critical to our success and well being.
For instance, one of my client considers Thursday morning errand time. And another considers Friday afternoons planning time. (He more cleverly named this time, “don’t put the horse away wet.”) Putting pencil to paper streamlines the process for determining the best time to insert a new habit. For more on time budgets, check out our Time Budget white paper.
The time sense tool is paired with those clients who don’t seem to have an accurate sense of the passage of time. They frequently admit to not knowing what they accomplished throughout the days, despite feeling busy the entire time.
This loose time log has room for jotting the time, the activity and observations. Used throughout the days for a week always produces a revelation or two.
For instance, one client noticed she expected her work rhythm to be a steady beat from the time she arrived until the time she left–and she had no routine for stopping to renew her energy. As a result, she decided to orchestrate her days with high-energy projects at the top of the day and low-energy tasks toward the end. She also set her phone alarm to chime every two hours to “wake her up” to the passage of time.
This time log has a spot for collecting what-am-I-doing data in :15 increments. I sometimes suggest clients with little to no structure to live with this tool for a week or two so we can begin to see what activities are driving their days–and what tasks might be preventing critical work from happening.
One client realized checking his email at the top of day frequently dragged into lunch time if he had no meetings scheduled. However, when he started his day with a meeting, he only spent roughly :45 on email for the first half of the day. He used this to determine setting and accepting morning meetings could not only help move projects along, but could also prevent him from losing time to the email monster.
I turn to this tool when my clients seem to chronically under or over estimate their activities…or the tasks of those on their team.
With room to track estimates of how long an activity will take/took, you\’ll also find room to calculate the gap between your perception and reality.
We have updated the time estimate tracker document to automatically calaculate the times in excel. On April 30, 2012, this enhanced time estimate tracker tool was added to this post.
What other tools do you use to calibrate your relationship with time? What lessons did you learn from the attached measuring devices?