The best way to get more productive is to actually know how your time is being spent. If you don't have any idea where your time is going; then how can you possibly improve it. One of our favorite techniques for helping individuals and companies identify how they can be more productive is by figuring out where they are currently spending their time.
I suggest that clients do an exercise in time tracking when they first start with Time Managed coaching. I have them log what they are doing every 15 minutes for three (3) days so that we can see where they are actually spending their time. We take a look at their self described priorities and goals to see if their schedule and activities are lining up with them. It is surprising how often we can say we have a goal of something but our actions reflect otherwise.
Recently I purchased a Fitbit in order to track activity and motivate me to move more. The model I purchased is aptly name the "Inspire," and that is just what it does. It inspires me to move more when I see that my steps are low for the day or that I have not exercised all week. The side benefit is that it tracks my sleep as well. Sometimes as a working Mom I feel guilty about not getting enough done in the day and sleep is the easiest thing to take from; with the Fitbit tracking my sleep I can see the days that I get more or less and adjust my plans accordingly. You hear all these motivational people saying "if you are passionate enough, you won't need sleep." I do not agree. Sure, I function well on less sleep than the average person but any less than 6 hours a night an my performance declines. A tool like a Fitbit can help you see how much time you spend sleeping and see if that is an area you can improve upon for better productivity.
At work my team digitally tracks their time per business unit and per customer so that we know how much R&D time is being spent. I pull the data weekly to see how many hours they logged to something productive in the 40+ hours they are onsite. We pull the data every month to bill customers who pay for R&D time. I log my own time when I am working from home for accountability that I am still doing the work even though I am not present at the worksite.
If you want to improve where your time is being spent, and you have identified your true priorities, then it is time to start time blocking. Use your planner to block out times when your focus will be what you need it to be. For example, I block out the times that I will be in the office, when I plan to cook for my family, exercise times, and personal business development times.
Do you know where your time is going? Does it line up with your priorities and goals? Share your thoughts in the comments.