Find More Time in Your Day by Conducting a Simple Time Audit

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John Nieuwenburg

John Nieuwenburg has been a professional business coach since 2004. Prior to becoming a coach, he held executive positions with Tip Top Tailors and BC Liquor Stores. In 2019, MacKay CEO Forums awarded him with Canada’s CEO Trusted Advisor Award in the Small Business category. Since becoming a coach, John has worked with over 350 clients, taking them through a systematic process that helps them feel organized, confident and in control of their businesses.

As a business coach, one of the most common complaints I hear from my clients is feeling like they don’t have enough time in the day.

Between managing their workload, attending meetings, and dealing with unexpected interruptions, it can feel overwhelming to stay on top of everything.

The first step towards taking back control of your time is to audit how you are currently spending it.

The simple exercise of keeping track of what you do and how long it takes you can be incredibly eye-opening and can go a long way in helping you identify areas where you can make better use of your time.

How to conduct a time audit

  • Choose a day or week to track your time. Ideally, you want to choose a typical day or week, so you get an accurate picture of how you spend your time.
  • Use a time-tracking app or create a spreadsheet and record what you do in 15-minute increments throughout the day. Be specific and note exactly what you’re working on.
  • At the end of the day or week, review your time audit and categorize your activities. For example, you may have spent X amount of time on email, Y amount of time in meetings, Z amount of time on client work, etc.
  • Fill out a skill/value box to help you assess the most important activities you are doing.
  • Identify any areas where you’re spending more time than necessary or areas where you’re not spending enough time. Look for patterns and trends to determine where you can make adjustments.
  • Take what you learn and develop a default diary to help you better organize your day.

The steps are simple, yet the results can have a profound impact.

Clients who complete this exercise often report back that they freed up 5-7 hours per week.

Yet despite the promise of getting some time back, I sometimes get push back when I suggest doing this as homework.

This is understandable, because when you’re already stretched thin for time, an exercise like this seems like just one more thing to do.

Here’s what a client who did NOT want to do the audit had to say about it afterwards:

1. Paying attention to how I spent my time led to making better choices

“First of all, the act of writing down everything I did made me more mindful of how I was spending my time. I found myself making better choices in the moment. Did I really want to admit to John that I spent 90 minutes reading articles online or aimlessly browsing Facebook?”

2. Despite the overhead of tracking, I was more productive

“Despite the overhead of doing the tracking, I was more productive that week. I also started to approach my calendar by considering “return on time invested” and saw opportunities to claw back my time. In person meetings that took an hour on my calendar actually took 2 or more hours once I accounted for travel and “getting ready” time. I switched most of these to phone meetings. I also dropped some activities that ate up more time than they were worth.”

3. I got a reality-check about how long things really take

“Finally, I got a reality-check about how long things really take. This has made project estimating easier and more accurate. I’m far more realistic about what I can get done in a day or week and I schedule appropriately. I’m less stressed and more productive. This assignment turned out to be so helpful that I’m STILL tracking my time 6 years later.”

In summary, doing a time audit is a simple but powerful exercise that can help you make better use of your time.

By tracking your time, you can identify areas where you can make adjustments to become more efficient and prioritize your tasks more effectively.

If you’re struggling with time management or feeling overwhelmed by your workload, I encourage you to book a call with me to learn more about coaching.

As a business coach, I can help you develop strategies and systems to optimize your time and achieve your business goals. You can book 15 minutes on my calendar here: Book Time with John

Free E-Book: Ultimate Guide to Time Management and Productivity

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How to escape overwhelm and gain time freedom in your business

This guide includes my best advice and coaching exercises to help you:

  • Get control of your email and calendar
  • Prioritize your most important tasks
  • Become more productive than you ever thought possible

Ready to free up 5-7 hours per week? Download this guide today!

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