Airtable is an online database that looks and acts like a spreadsheet. That makes it perfect for quantifying yourself (You can learn more about the quantified-self movement here if you are interested).
I created a table for tracking how I spend my time. I am capturing everything I do, even my 10-minute drive to the gym each morning at 5:20 AM. I’ve exported the time that I have tracked into an Excel spreadsheet and created a pivot table to analyze how I invest my time and the return on that investment.
Where Does the Time Go?
The following is some of what I’ve learned so far.
I spend way more time with my family than I ever imagined. I love working, and when I’m not working, I wish I was. I worry about how much time I spend with my family. But reviewing the actual time I spent with my family in January, I am pleased with how I am doing (pleased, but not satisfied).
Looking at the time I spend on my physical health, I’m also pleased with the investment of time. It’s around seven hours a week, and when I missed days, I made up some time with additional hours where I could.
But it’s not all good news. When I look at my very highest priorities and most important goals, I am not investing nearly as much time as I thought I was. Even though I am disciplined about my time and priorities, and even though I block my time, I am not doing as well as I need to.
The only real constraint any of us has is time. It is our one finite, nonrenewable resource. To invest more time in your most important outcomes, goals, and projects, you have to steal back time from other areas.
Some of that time needs to come from minimizing or eliminating interruptions. It is shocking how often we are interrupted each day, and more startling how long these interruptions take. When someone asks for five minutes, they often need 25 minutes. These conversations need to be scheduled.
Some of the time necessary for your most important projects and tasks needs to come from dealing with non-value creating activities. That means eliminating some things that you do, automating things that can be automated, and delegating anything where you are not the primary value creator.
In the above statements, when I write “you,” I mean “me.” This is as true for me as it is for you.
- Is your time being invested in your most important tasks, projects, and goals?
Look back at your last week’s calendars, or maybe two weeks, and count up the time you spent working on what is most important. If new client acquisition is critical to your company’s growth, how much time was spent on generating those results. If family time is important, how’d you do?
- Where will you find the time you need to double down on what is most important?
Time is finite. You are going to have to pull time from somewhere if you are going to invest it in your highest priorities. What can you eliminate, automate, or delegate to create a space for the things you need to do to live your purpose?