Sticky Notes: Manage Your Time, Don’t Let It Manage You

Keeping a time log will give you a brutal reality check about how you are using your time and then motivate you to take control of it.

Think of every minute of your time as a unit of productive capacity. The real measure is how much you get done in the time that is allocated.

Are you making what you do count? One way to find out is by using a time log. This powerful tool can help you gain control of your time.

Here’s the simple but powerful idea: Every time you change your activity, make a note of it and log the time. It’s all about committing to taking contemporaneous notes for a while.

Keep your time log with you and note every time you change activities. Do it for five hours. Try it for 10. Try doing it from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day for three days, four days, five days. This exercise will help you identify your biggest time wasters and, more important, the biggest schedule gaps in which you could get things done.

Try it. Then evaluate and learn how you use that precious limited resource—your time:

  • Compare your time log to your list of top priorities. How does your time spending line up with your top priorities?
  • What (or who) are your biggest time wasters? What lowest-priority activities are taking up your time? How can you eliminate them?
  • Identify your biggest sources of interruption. What can you do to better manage those interruptions?
  • Identify any unexpected emergencies or urgent matters that required your attention. What can you do to better anticipate and prevent those emergencies or urgencies going forward?
  • Identify opportunities to increase your efficiency. What can you streamline? What shortcuts can you take? What detours can you avoid?

The time log will give you a brutal reality check about how you are using your time and then motivate you to take control of it.

Bruce Tulgan
Bruce Tulgan is a best-selling author and CEO of RainmakerThinking, the management research, consulting, and training firm he founded in 1993. All of his work is based on 27 years of intensive workplace interviews and has been featured in thousands of news stories around the world. His newest book, “The Art of Being Indispensable at Work: Win Influence, Beat Overcommitment, and Get the Right Things Done” ( Harvard Business Review Press) is available for purchase from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all major booksellers. Follow Tulgan on Twitter @BruceTulgan or visit his Website at: