It’s about time you faced up to the scary truth!
Time. It is The one thing we can’t get more of each day.
Everyone has the same 24 hours available to them.
However, if you are wise, you can get more hours in your day (I worked out how to get over 7 hours of extra time to spend on my business EVERY WEEK!).
Whaaaaat? How is that possible?
Is this another plug for the awesome unicorn assistant service?
No - although that is another way you can get more time back, this is how you can find more time just by taking a good look at how you’re doing things.
You can’t literally add more hours into your day - unless you give up sleep, which I DON’T recommend. You just need to do things differently to make the most of those 24 hours you have.
Knowledge is power.
Tracking is an incredibly powerful and eye opening tool. It’s why millions if not billions of people wear fitbits to track their steps and count their calories every single day.
But, it is pretty rare to hear of people tracking their time, which I find a bit odd.
The single best way to see EXACTLY what is happening with your hours every day, is to track it.
All those sneaky 5 minutes of checking Facebook here and 10 minutes scrolling Instagram there, combined with that ubiquitous time killer email can really add up!
Time wasters are going to be different for everyone, but if you aren’t tracking your time, there is a very high chance your precious time is disappearing, leaving you less productive than you could be, without you even realising!
My challenge to you, is to track how much you spend on everything you do for two weeks.
Yes everything! Track it all, the good, the bad and the ugly.
Prepare to be enlightened!
You can’t know what you don’t know and when you actually notice and pay attention where you are spending your time it can be a fascinating (if not frightening insight into your life.
How to track?
Write it down
You can go old school and keep a pad and paper next to you at all times. Write down when you start doing something and when you stop.
It is super important to be honest with yourself in this process - even if on the first day you realise you spent two hours doing something you’re embarrassed about (ahem… netflix).
Include everything - toilet breaks, sleep time, chatting with friends and family, housework, walking to the bus, time spent on email, facebook, instagram, looking at cat videos, patting your dog, staring at your sleeping baby. EVERYTHING you are doing.
To make it easier for yourself, you could do up a quick chart in excel or word with columns broken up into 10 or 15 minute sections with the times, print out 14 of them - one for each day of the two week challenge - and fill them in.
A physical diary or planner also works really well. Just make sure you write it all down!
If you prefer to keep things online - either on your PC or on your phone, there are a lot of options for you.
Firstly - just write it down in a word document or notes app on your phone.
You could also add blocks of time to your google calendar - or other online calendar - and colour code it for different activities so you don’t have to write each one out.
If you want something more automatic, use a timer like Toggl - I personally use the Toggl basic (free) plan to track time I spend on projects and find it fantastic! Hourstack is great if you like to see a visual of where your time is going
If you spend a lot of time on your computer and/or phone, Rescue Time (affiliate link) is brilliant! I’ve been using this as my secret weapon for about 3 years. You can look back at the end of the day or week and see what you were doing down to granular detail - every website you were on, what programs you were using. You can also add in manual time, for when you are working on something offline. Plus it tracks across multiple devices and your phone - handy if you work on both a desktop and a laptop like I do.
Then, audit it!
After the two weeks is up get all that information together and tally it up. If two weeks is too much for you, track for as long as you can, you will see trends even after a week tracking.
Add up how much time you’re spending on different tasks, areas of work and life and be really honest with yourself if that is what you want to be doing with your time.
When you can see the black and white of how many hours you’re doing on each task or activity, you may discover the tasks that make your business money are getting the lowest priority. Or you’re simply not spending as much time on them as you thought.
For example, if you’re working 40 hours each week (or more) but find you’re only spending 9 hours doing things that will bring you income, it could be time to reassess.
Look at the audit to discover if you are making the best use of your time or are there things you’re doing that are “work” but not really helping you move forward.
If you want to get super granular about time, read this article from Wait, But Why about how you have 100 x 10 minute blocks per day and how you can be more conscious about what you are doing with them.
When I did my time audit last year, I discovered I had a terrible habit of spending more than 1 hour EVERY DAY on twitter, sometimes closer to 90 minutes.
I didn’t realise how much time it was, because it was 20 minutes here, 15 minutes there, 10 mins checking in the morning and sometimes again at night. And it wasn’t even anything worthwhile - mostly giggling and eye rolling at tweets from my favourite snarky political commentator Rick Wilson. Mildly entertaining as it was, it was definitely NOT adding any value to my days.
So my mission was to change that.
I took a course on habits and realised that it had become a habit for me when I sat on the couch, to pick up my phone and open twitter.
So firstly, I stopped that association and now I don’t take my phone to the couch (for the most part).
I also installed freedom on my phone (affiliate link), which made a HUGE difference! Seriously, it was the best $30 I’ve EVER spent.
I set up app/safari blocks at certain times of the day, so I can’t access twitter on safari during those hours (I already deleted the twitter app - this was a hard core addiction haha). So if I did go to look at it, I would get the reminder it was blocked and do something else (usually more productive) instead. You can set up blocks for any apps or even individual websites, super handy!
Doing this - installing the blocker and changing the couch = phone = twitter association, I managed to take my twitter time from an average of 17.5 HOURS PER FORTNIGHT (yes that was HORRIFYING to discover) to about 3 hours per fortnight.
So I now have 14.5 extra hours every fortnight - that is almost one WHOLE day of extra work time I have every single week.
The crazy thing is, I had no idea it was adding up to so much time! Especially because it wasn’t big blocks of time, it was small bits here and there, but man did that all add up! I don’t even miss twitter now that I don’t use it much - it definitely was NOT sparking joy for me.
I’m sure there are other areas I could improve on further as well and will re-do my time audit shortly to make sure nothing has slid into the twitter time wasting slot in my life.
Just like tracking your steps or calories, it isn’t something you can do once and then you’re golden. You need to keep on top of it!
Now it’s your turn
Are you up for it? Do you want to discover where time is leaking in your life?
If this has inspired you to do the time challenge for yourself, I would love to hear how you go! Please comment below.
Just a heads up
Posts on The Unicorn Assistant may contain affiliate links, but I’m a no bullshit affiliate kinda gal, as you can read about in my affiliate disclaimer.
The few $$ I make from affiliate income, costs you absolutely nothing and goes straight to our family holiday fund ✈️ so my kids and I thank you 💗