Before we dive in, it will be helpful to have your time audit in front of you. If you need another copy or haven’t filled it out yet, CLICK HERE to access it. Once it’s printed, fill it out for 7 days and return to this blog post to take the next steps to plan on purpose. Or, you can do what most people will do and continue reading. Instructions are for everyone else, am I right? Wink, wink.
1st step, Categorize
Take a look at your audit, where you recorded how you spent your time for 7 days, and categorize each section. Common categories you could choose from: family time, health (could include sleeping as well as exercise), work or business, relaxation, service, household chores, socializing, hobbies, etc. & then calculate how many hours you’re spending on each category.
2nd step, Determine Priorities
On a separate piece of paper, write out your priorities. I’m referring to your general life priorities. What are your top 5? List them in order of importance. You could also do this exercise as a business owner, and in that case, you would determine your business’s top priorities.
3rd step, Compare
How often are your priorities showing up on your calendar? Good to know, right? For most people, it’s a bit alarming to think they have priorities but then notice their priorities only show up in a small percentage of their week. I don’t know one person yet who listed scrolling social media as a priority, and yet, when they’re honest with their time audit, they see how many hours they’re spending on it and motivates them to make a change.
4th step, Start Planning
You may need another piece of paper for this. Write out all that you need to get done. Everything! Yep, even those things you’ve been meaning to do. All of it, every single thing on your mind. It could take up 6 pages, and that’s okay. Getting all your to-dos and intended to-dos out of your head is a great step to eliminating chatter in your mind.
5th step, Eliminate
Can anything on your list be delegated? What about things that could be eliminated altogether? With your priorities fresh on your mind, is it worth it to do those things that don’t fall under your priorities? You decide. Be committed to your choices without regret or guilt. Planning on purpose means you’re the CEO of your day and you get to decide what’s important and what outcomes will result from the decisions you make.
6th step, Calendar
What remains on the list, and everything on your list needs a time slot in your calendar. You will calendar in this order: #1 top priority will get filled in first. For many of my clients, this means family time needs to go first. What hours and on what days will you dedicate to this? I know others, though, that have their health and wellness as a #1 priority. There are no morally right answers about what should be #1, but whatever it is for you, needs to be calendared first. Then move to #2 top priority, and continue on the line until you’ve moved through your priorities. You’ll still have some things on your to-do list, so fill those in until you can literally throw your to-do list away because everything is on your calendar. It’s okay if you’re calendaring 2 or 3 weeks ahead, but everything needs a slot.
** Side Note
Many at this point in the process will ask how you know how long certain things will take. First, it’s totally up to you and you get to decide, but when you’re beginning this method, be generous, but not too generous. It’s amazing what you can get done when you decide you only have 25 minutes to complete it. Push yourself and be more concerned with completion than perfection.
7th step, Stick to Your Calendar
No matter what! You’ve got to pinky promise yourself you’ll stay committed. I’ll guarantee you right now that you will not feel like cleaning out that garage when Saturday morning arrives and that’s what you have on the calendar. Or, maybe for you it’s writing the script for your next email series that gets your groaning? Do it anyway! Confidence galore shows up when you start honoring your commitments to yourself 100%. You’ll build the kind of confidence that allows you to work through any challenge. You’ll also start to notice that you’re more relaxed when you’re not working because you know EXACTLY when things will get done. Stick to your calendar, plan on purpose, and own your day!
> You can check in with your progress in a couple of weeks by printing another TIME AUDIT and comparing how you now allocate your time. Does it help you work smarter? Does it help you come back to your work hours rested? Sure, there will always be room for slight adjustments, but you’re well on your way to living a life where your time is used exactly how you prefer, and you won’t catch yourself saying “there’s never enough time,” ever again.