In the past, I have advised my readers and students at my seminars to keep a time log if they want to increase their productivity. It is probably advice you’ve heard in the past; few of us truly realize how we spend the minutes and hours that our work days add up to until we actually see them written down and tallied up in print. That insight alone can be worth the time spent on the activity.
As great a reason as that is to try a time log for a week or two, however, there is also another “hidden” benefit to the process: It can help you identify the parts of the day where you feel most energized.
Most of us have a fairly good gut feeling on which parts of the day feel energetic and productive, along with the ones where we tend to feel flat or tired-out. But by keeping close track of a time log with a few notes inserted, you can start to narrow these ranges down to something more specific and actionable. For instance, you may find that you are not just winding down late in the afternoon, but often around 2:45. With that knowledge in hand, you can start to plan creative activities for other hours, and leave that time for paperwork or similar tasks.
Additionally, the record you keep for your time log might also reveal that certain projects and tasks are taking away your energy, or don’t work well back to back. Maybe the issues raised at your regular staff meeting make it hard for you to focus on progress reports, or you are constantly running late for lunch because you can’t finish your customer calls in time.
We usually think of “time management” as a process of managing minutes, but it is just as important to keep a close eye on your energy and motivation. By keeping a regular time log for a couple of weeks and looking at the results, you might uncover a few hidden insights and get better at both.