Have you ever conducted a simple time audit on yourself? It can seem a bit tedious and boring, not at all a popular activity for most people. However, the results can be quite revealing and well worth the effort, especially if you want to start taking control of your own time.
Most of us have a way of fooling ourselves about what's important to us.
Realistically, all of us wish we had more time so we can do more of what we think is important to us. But what if I told you that you already have enough time, you're just using it in the wrong ways.
When you start taking control of your own time, you soon realise you have more time than you thought you did.
The best way to get control of your time is to track your time for an entire week. This will show you where most of your time is going and how you might like to reorganise things.
I track my time using RescueTime. But you can do it by using a notepad or opening up a spreadsheet on the computer and start noting all times and activities. The more detailed you are, the better your awareness will be at the end of the week. Often, you'll get the best results if you track in 15-minute blocks, but you can do 30-minute blocks, too.
Evaluate Your Habits
Once you've completed your week of time-tracking, it's time to look through the data. This is not the place to beat yourself up. There's no "could of", "should of", "would of", "Have To", "Ought To", or "Need To".
We're not making your choices right or wrong. That's too easy and won't positively motivate you.
Instead, aim to spot the highlights.
What activities have the highest ROI (Return On Investment)? In other words, what are your money tasks?
Is there a way to give those activities more of your time?
It would be helpful to share your time audit with someone outside of your situation. Reach out to a fellow entrepreneur you respect. Ask them to look through your tracker. Invite them to ask curious questions and share any insights they have.
When you develop awareness about how you've been spending your time, you're equipped enough to make new choices. Remember, this is not about spotting what you're doing wrong. This is about giving yourself the gift of taking control of your own time.
Protect Your Time: Learn to Say "No" to Others
Some choices you make about your time seem automatic. You probably spend a certain amount of time taking showers and performing necessary self-care activities. Everything else comes down to you, determining priorities and making a choice.
It'd be fantastic if you were able to say "yes" to projects and people that fill you with excitement and deliver the best possible profit. But for that to happen, you'll need to say "no" to a lot of lesser things. This can be done with kindness and gets easier with time. The formula is No + Appreciation.
* No, thank you.
* Thanks for the invite, I'm going to stay in tonight.
* I'm glad you reached out, I love being recommended, however, I can't take another client right now.
* Thanks for offering me more work, my schedule is full though. Is this something we can schedule for next month?
Note, the formula is not: No + Appreciation + Excuse.
You don't have to provide a reason for saying no. Giving one only creates frustration in most cases because they may try to 'solve' your excuse.
Let Go of Busy Work that Steals Your Time
Other people don't necessarily create time demands with low overall ROI.
Humans are very good at creating busy work for themselves.
To be clear, busy work is any activity that fills time without delivering an adequate return on the investment.
The Four Zones
A while back, when I was looking into taking control of your own time, for myself, I read the book The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks. I was introduced to the idea that the activities we engage in can be organised into four different zones.
* The Zone of Incompetence
* The Zone of Competence
* The Zone of Excellence
* The Zone of Genius
Anytime you're doing something poorly, you're in the Zone of Incompetence. Someone else could do it way better.
If you do something perfectly fine, but any number of other people could do it as well or better, you're in the Zone of Competence.
If we do something better than most and perhaps even get recognition for how well we do it, we're in our Zone of Excellence.
If we do something that no one else can do quite like us, it fills us with purpose and creativity; we're in our Zone of Genius.
Are You Stuck in the Zone of Incompetence?
It's natural, and even good, to spend some time there. This makes sense when we're learning an instrument, a language, or new software that we need for our business.
Sometimes though, we force ourselves into the Zone of Incompetence for no good reason. The steep learning curve takes more time than the resulting benefit will ever justify. We're better off outsourcing those tasks.
Do You Camp Out in the Zone of Competence?
What are you doing that sparks no enjoyment or creativity in you? How can you minimise time on these activities? Could you outsource these tasks to someone who's just as capable as you are?
Do You exist in the Zone of Excellence?
What do you do that gets compliments?
What comes easier to you than most people?
What gifts are tapped into that make it so?
The answers to these questions can give you clues on how to create more time in this zone.
Do You Play in the Zone of Genius?
Many people feel like they haven't discovered what their Genius Zone looks like yet. That's perfectly OK.
If you focus on spending as much time in your Zone of Excellence and as little time in your Zones of Incompetence or Competence, your inner Genius gets a chance to show up and shine!
Taking control of your own time Is not always easy, but it is worth spending time on.
If you can find more time by cutting down on tasks you do not need to do, that will be a massive win for you and your business.
How did your time audit go? Let me know in the comments below...
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