“I need help managing my time.”
“No matter how hard I work, there’s always so much more to do than there is time to do it.”
“I waste so much time just trying to decide what to work on next.”
I hear these sentiments from my clients all the time, and, as a small business owner, have certainly felt them myself.
- How we spend our time.
- How much time our tasks and commitments actually require.
In this post, I’m going to share a visualization exercise that can help you tackle the first of these questions.
Analyzing How You Actually Spend Your Time
I’m willing to bet there are certain types of tasks that always make it onto the calendar, such as meetings and appointments, but that the majority of work you actually do probably does not. If this is the case, how do you know how much time you’ll need to allocate for each task or project? And how do you track how much availability you have, so you don’t overcommit yourself?
My Ideal Week/Month/Year Exercise lets you answer these questions by visually mapping out all your tasks and time. All you need are Post-it notes and some wall space (or you can use a virtual brainstorming tool like miro.com).
Here are the basic steps for Ideal Week version:
- Catalogue all the various tasks, meetings, and other known upcoming demands on your time in a given week. Write each one on a separate Post-it note.
- For each item, note whether it’s a recurring or one-time task. Also estimate roughly how much time you need to complete that task.
- Create columns on your wall for each day of the week.
- For the tasks that are day-specific, move the Post-it notes into the column for that day. This will show you how much time in a given week is already booked up, and how much time you have available.
- Fill in the remaining Post-its for tasks that you need to accomplish in the week. You might need to lump certain tasks together and schedule a chunk of time for several tasks.
Repeat the same steps to map out your Ideal Month and Ideal Year.
The result is a blueprint for how to spend your ideal week, month, and year. The intention isn’t to follow the blueprint perfectly, it’s just a guide for how you can use your personal strengths and weaknesses to your advantage and get more done.