If you have a tendency to procrastinate, you probably catch yourself saying things such as the following on a regular basis:

  • “Where did all the time go?”
  • “How is it 5:00 p.m. already?”
  • “I can’t believe I didn’t get any work done on that important project. What was I doing all day?”

One of the best ways to shed light on how you’re wasting time—instead of devoting your time to high priority tasks—is to keep a time log. Once you’ve kept a time log for a while, you’re going to analyze how you’re currently using your time, you’re going to make decisions on the changes that you’re going to make in order to make better use of your time, and then you’re going to implement those changes. This article will show you step-by-step how to do this.

How to Keep a Time Log

Keeping a time log is a simple process. All you need is a pen and a notebook. Here’s the process in a nutshell:

1. Decide on the period of time during which you’re going to keep a time log. A good idea is to keep a time log for a period of two weeks in order to get a complete picture of how you’re using your time.

2. You’re going to keep your time log with you at all times, and all throughout the day you’re going to jot down in real time everything that you do. Don’t try to fill out your time log at the end of the day from memory; you won’t remember everything that you did throughout the day.

3. When you’re writing down entries in your time log, be very specific. Instead of just writing down something general like “working”, write down something like the following: answering emails; meeting with my supervisor; organizing files; working on Project Y; taking a coffee break; and so on. Make sure to include interruptions.

4. In addition, next to each activity write down whether it’s a low, medium, or high priority activity.

Analyze the Data You Collected

Once you’ve been keeping a time log for two weeks, or the time period that you decided on, you’re going to analyze the data. Ask yourself questions such as the following:

  • How are you wasting time?
  • What activities are stretching out longer than they should?
  • Is there a constant interruption (is there someone or something that is constantly interrupting you)?
  • Are you spending most of your time on low, medium, or high priority activities?
  • How are you procrastinating?

Decide on the Changes That You’re Going to Make

Based on your analysis of the data, decide what changes you’re going to make in order to use your time more efficiently. Some of the things you could do are the following:

• Ask your children to start making their own beds in the morning.
• Ask your spouse to be in charge of grocery shopping each week, since you’re in charge of cooking.
• Hire a neighborhood kid to mow the lawn.
• Answer your emails in a batch twice a day, instead of interrupting your work to answer each email as soon as it comes in.
• Tape your favorite TV shows so that you can watch them at your convenience, instead of interrupting your work to watch these shows when they’re on.

Implement the Changes

Once you’ve made a list of the changes that you’re going to make, you need to start implementing these changes. However, don’t try to implement all of the changes at once. Instead, implement just one change at a time. Then, every two or three weeks, implement another change. If you try to make too many changes at once, you’ll become overwhelmed and will likely revert back to your old behavior. Go slowly.

Measure the Results

After you’ve made all of the changes that you decided to make, keep a time log once again for a period of one or two weeks in order to measure the results of your changes. Are you now making more efficient use of your time? Are you devoting more of your time to high priority tasks? Have you cut back on your procrastination?

Conclusion

Keeping a time log will take time. However, since it will help you to save lots of time over the long run, it’s a wise investment of your time. Once you know where your time is going, you’ll be able to make better use of it. Take out a pen and paper, and nip procrastination in the bud by starting to keep track of where your time is going, with a time log, right away.

Author's Bio: 

Written by Marelisa Fabrega. For more information on how to stop procrastinating, visit How to Stop Procrastinating.