Where Does Your Time Go?

Ever wonder why some people seem to be able to complete their daily to-do lists, while others always have things they carry over to the next day, and the day after that?


Do you have the time you need to get your work done and go home with a sense of accomplishment? Or, do you hear that little voice in the back of your head reminding you of the things you still have to do?


I know, there’s always a good reason why things don’t get done and I also know that your intentions are good.  But let’s look at the facts.


We all start out on a level playing field.  We’re all given 86,400 seconds a day. Based on an 8-hour day, that breaks down to 28,800 seconds to get things done.


So, where does the time go?


Despite the fact that we maintain schedules and calendars to keep us on track, we all wear several hats and during the course of any given day.  When we do, it cuts into the time we’ve allocated to do things we need to do. More than that, each time we shift gears, we refocus our energy to, concentrate on what’s immediate before getting back to what we were doing before we were distracted.  That takes time too.  Ever ask yourself, ‘Now, what was I just doing’?


Regardless of industry, how we use our time breaks down into similar categories.  Each category uses different ‘head space.’  Our minds are constantly juggling back and forth.


Let’s take a look:


  • The majority of our time is filled RESPONDING to what others need. We respond to emails, texts, employees, clients, voicemail, problems, etc.  You get it.  None of which is terribly creative or proactive, except for the fires we put out.
  • We also set time aside to PLAN the work we must do. Prepare for meetings, lay out agendas, think strategically about steps, implications, what you need to get from A to B and so on. How are you going to do something?  Are you systems in place? What’s the workflow? You need to remain focused for this type of work.
  • ADMINISTRATIVE work is boring but necessary.  Did all the contracts get out?  What about the invoices and work orders.  Are all your bills paid? If you don’t do it yourself, you’re meeting with your office manager or department heads to make sure they’ve done their jobs, so you can sign off on everything.
  • THINK TIME.  This is what everyone needs more of and it’s harder and harder to come by. It’s structured and uninterrupted time we need in order to think creatively about taking our businesses to the next level, whatever that may be. Maybe it’s setting goals or modifying existing ones.  Maybe you have an idea for a promotion? Maybe you harness the energy of your team and hold a brainstorming session.
  • Finally, there’s DO I HAVE REASON TO WORRY time.  You’re just a tad insecure. Maybe you Google yourself.  Maybe check yourself out on Yelp or Facebook.  Maybe you call a referral source and see what that customer really thought about your service. What you’re really doing is giving in to your need for a distraction. You’re accomplishing nothing. Just go out and get lunch.


The truth is, we switch gears so often that sometimes the most rewarding and productive tasks never get the attention they need because we’re too busy  dealing with  what hits us in the face when we walk through the door.   Most of that amounts to RESPONDING to others and handling ADMINISTRATIVE work that could be delegated or automated.


Next time we’ll talk about some practical ways to restructure your day. Think about the relationship between your time and your value.  Your time is your time. If you think it’s more cost effective to try to fix the computer or printer yourself rather than call a tech, think again. As your business’s greatest asset, your time is worth more.


“Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.”

–       M. Scott Peck


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