Where Does Your Day Go?

A Revealing Reality Check

There’s an easy way to find out where your time is going and how to fit in more of the things that are most important and most profitable.

Take a sheet of paper or graph paper and make a grid with a row for each day of the week, and columns (cells) for each hour of the day, starting with midnight. You’ll have 24 squares across and 7 squares down, so you might want to tape 2 or 3 pages together so you can have cells big enough to write a few words. Label the hours and the days of the week.

Now fill in the cells of your time grid with what you are typically doing during those times. Start with your time spent sleeping. Then fill in your regular activities like getting ready, eating meals, commuting, work hours, answering emails, appointments, conference calls, training, prospecting, exercising, and so on. Don’t forget to put in leisure activities like reading the newspaper, surfing the web, or watching TV, and include time with family and friends. Keep in mind that weekends are likely to be much different from weekdays.

For example, your 7 am block might be: get up, shower and dress, breakfast, time with family. Your 8 am block might be: get to work , answer emails, return phone calls, and so on.

Keep this log for a few weeks and e brutally honest — you’re the only one who needs to see your time grid and it will only help you if you’re honest. After a few weeks, you’ll start to see some patterns appearing and some answers to your time dilemma will become self-evident. You’ll have the answers at hand for the following questions:

– At what times are you typically the most productive?
– Did you make time for things that you find enjoyable, or for things that renew your energy physically and mentally?
– Was there time set aside to review dreams and goals?
– What interruptions stole productive time from you day?
– Was there time set aside for planning and organization your work or home life?
– Where was there time wasted that could have been used profitably?
– Was your time spent in leisure activities (like watching tv) worth the sacrifice of productive business-building time?

With answers to these questions in hand, you’ll be able to evaluate how your time is spent and make a plan for productivity and profitability, while keeping time with your family and friends a priority. You’ll find that you actually have far more time than you imagined once you eliminate from your life those things that steal your time: interruptions, tv, web surfing, travel during peak traffic hours, drawn out phone conversations, junk email, and so on.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be exploring strategies for maximizing your productive time without interfering with your relationships or your health.

The most effective strategy is simply to record your daily activities on your time grid. The light bulbs will go off and you’ll see that the 24 hours you have available to you each day really are enough to accomplish everything you want to do.

Make Time for Exercise

Those who exercise regularly know how sluggish and foggy they feel when they miss their workouts.

But even if you don’t have a serious exercise routine, you can benefit from taking breaks during your work day for short bouts of activity to get your blood flowing and lift your spirits.

“Exercise builds brain endorphins that help us feel happier and more positive about life,” says Elson M. Haas, M.D., director of the Preventive Medical Center of Marin in Northern California.

The good news is that you can boost your mood and resurrect your energy with just 10 to 15 minutes of brisk walking. Not only will you burn calories, but a brisk walk lets fresh oxygen and blood circulate through your body, making you feel more fit, energetic, refreshed, and confident nearly instantly.

“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.”
— Michael Altshuler