A time audit helps you to see exactly how you spend your time. Here’s why it’s important and how you can use it.
It's been a busy day at work. You sat at your desk with your eyes on your computer. It's closing time. As you get ready to leave, you check the volume of work you have done. What you see doesn't match the hours you put in. You wonder why this is so.
You may have spent most of your time interacting on social media instead of doing the work you set out to do.
This scenario explains how many people spend their time at work. Set a different path for yourself by taking a time audit to invest your time better.
A time audit is a systematic process used to review how you spend your time. It enables you to manage your time effectively toward achieving your goals.
How you invest your time at work impacts your productivity. The most efficient people are those who put their time to good use. What better way to know how you spend your time than taking a time audit?
Let's look at some reasons why you should take time audit more seriously.
Effective time management helps you to improve your work-life balance. It curbs excesses that rob you of your time.
You spend several hours at work. But at the end of the day, you realize that not so much has been accomplished. A time audit helps you to figure out the unproductive activities that you spend your time on.
A time audit lays the solid foundation needed to make informed decisions toward achieving your goal. You are more inclined to make rational rather than emotional decisions.
Achieving business goals is faster when you attach a time frame to them. With an effective time audit, you identify how much time you can devote to your goals and work toward accomplishing some milestones within a specific period.
You might be investing your time in unproductive activities without even realizing it. You probably spend several hours on your computer at work. But you keep busy on Facebook for most of those hours when you are supposed to be working. By the end of the day, you know you spent hours on your computer, but you have no results to show for it.
Time audit helps you understand not just the importance of time, but how you invest it. Knowing the unproductive ventures that take up your time helps you to become deliberate in making your time count.
Performing a time audit helps you to be objective rather than subjective. You collect the facts about how and where you spend your time. For one who's determined to up their game in their career or job, it spurs you to become proactive with your time rather than reactive.
Instead of allowing unplanned events to eat up your time, a time audit motivates you to create a schedule of your activities beforehand and follow it strictly.
A weekly work plan is an effective initiative for being proactive with your time at work. It gives you information about the activities you'll engage in during the week ahead of time.
A proper time audit is the accountability police. Not only does it hold you accountable for how you spend your time, but it also gives you an idea of how you could put your time to better use. And if you fail to abide by it, the consequences are visible in all the tasks, goals, and objectives that you haven't accomplished yet.
Accountability for time usage comes in handy if you are working with a team. A time audit shows you how every team member spends their time.
Conducting an effective time audit entails tracking and documenting exactly what you spend your time doing daily. Data recorded from a successful time audit helps create future time charts and projected schedules.
There are basic tools that you can use to get the most of your time auditing. Here are some of them.
A diary is one of the oldest and simplest time audit tools, but yet still effective. Diaries were a thing long before the advent of the computer and the internet. You probably had a diary where you journaled events in your life growing up.
Dairies are still very much around. But instead of using the old print diaries, you can use electronic diaries to keep track of your activities.
The data contained in your diary helps you to know how you spend your time.
A time audit worksheet is an electronic document that contains recorded data, evaluated results, and the period of the time audit process. With this tool, you can easily identify and make references about how you spend your time.
Related: The Best Timesheet Templates to Track Your Hours
Thanks to advancements in technology, there are several tools you can use to track your time and increase your productivity.
Time tracking tools such as Apploye are effective in time auditing by tracking the activities you engage in online and showing the duration of each activity. Based on your settings, you get notified when you are spending too much time on a particular website or app.
Related: The Best Time Tracking Software and Apps
Putting your time to better use brings about a tremendous shift in your performance at work. An hour spent on productive tasks is more valuable than 10 hours spent on frivolous activities. Little wonder, employees who invest their time wisely are more efficient.
Are you ready to take a time audit? Here are some steps to guide you.
Why do you want to perform a time audit? As simple as the question might seem, answering it can be difficult, especially if you haven't given it a thought.
Identify your goal from the onset. Having a grasp of it helps you to focus on the things that matter to you. At the end of your audit, you'll know how to implement your findings.
After establishing your goal, also establish a deadline for achieving it. Otherwise, it might linger for too long. Take note of the activities that you engage in within the set deadline.
As much as you want to get things done immediately, don't rush them. The whole essence of the audit will be defeated if your results aren't accurate. The rule of thumb is to move at a moderate pace.
You must have a detailed plan on how you intend to achieve the goals you’ve set to accomplish during the time audit. This plan must be realistic and relatable.
Strategic planning in your time audit involves carrying everyone on your team along and providing the needed tools and resources for the audit. An effective plan helps you to eliminate waste of time and resources.
The collection of data is a very essential step in the time auditing process. This is done by collecting records of how you have been spending your time up to this point.
To move from point A to point B successfully, you must understand the dynamics of point A and then use this information as a guide for moving on to the next phase.
Analyzing collected data helps you to identify the correlation between where you have been and where you are now. Not all data collected is needed for your audit.
You have to filter out the gaps in your data as they could alter the accuracy of your audit. Focus on the important data. Such data should be analyzed and categorized to suit the goal of the time audit.
Targets keep you on your toes and give you a sense of accomplishment. Working toward achieving your time auditing goals at once can be overwhelming, especially when the goals are big.
Break your goals into little targets to be achieved within specified periods. As you achieve each target, celebrate yourself for a job well done. Your positive energy from achieving your target motivates you to reach other targets, bringing you closer to your big goals.
You'll be amazed at the number of unproductive things you spend your time on. A time audit brings this information to the fore, showing you the activities that waste your precious time.
Time is always moving. If you lose it, you can't have it back. If an activity doesn't add value to your career or work life, it doesn't deserve your attention.
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Chris Odogwu is committed to imparting knowledge through his writing. A passionate writer, he’s open to collaborations, networking, and other business opportunities. He holds a master’s degree in Mass Communication (Public Relations and Advertising major) and a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication.
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