1. Get Honest With Yourself
Your Task: Start logging your time.
What I Did: I didn’t do an exhaustive search of time-logging apps, but I chose two that did the trick. One was Toggl, which allows you to state what you’re doing, and hit “start” and “stop” buttons to log how much time you spend on each activity. I also used RescueTime, an app that logs your activity on your computer, so if I forgot to note what I was doing in Toggl, RescueTime could always watch what I was doing. Whatever apps you choose, make sure that they help you analyze how you’re spending your time.
What I Found: Just asking myself to log how I was spending my time made me much more conscious of not wasting it. By telling Toggl that I was going to clean up, I stayed focused on the task, instead of getting distracted with checking email. And I was happy to discover through RescueTime that, when I’m at work, I spent the vast majority of my time on what the app calls “very productive” activities.
As for my biggest problem–wasting time on my iPhone–I decided that I’d tell my Toggl timer that I was working on “sleep” at bedtime, and then kept my iPhone away from my bed. If I had insomnia, I could read the magazines that I never seemed to have time to read!
2. Outsource What You Dislike Doing
Your Task: Draft a list of what Vanderkam calls your “core competencies.” These are things that you want to spend your life doing because you’re good at them.
What I Did: She suggests jotting down the following:
- a bucket list of the 100 things you’d still like to do in your life
- the things you do best that other people can’t do as well
- the things you spend time on that other people could do–or do better
From these lists, you can gather what you’d like to be doing, what you should stick with and what you should ditch outsource, ignore or minimize.
RELATED: What’s Your Time Worth?
What I Found: The good news is that I’m already doing a lot of what I want to be doing, like making my living writing and editing. And I already outsource the heavy-duty cleaning in my home. What I’m missing? Exercise and meditation, which are two things that I keep wanting to do but put off.
I realized that I could find more time in my schedule by cooking less–if I could cut out two hours of cooking each week, that would allow me to do a 15-minute meditation every day. Since I don’t want to double or triple my grocery costs by hiring a private chef, I decided to invest in a slow cooker that would allow me to prepare big dishes beforehand, and freeze meal-sized portions.