An important time management practice that I do several times a year -- is "time logging."
For several weeks in a row, I would write down how I spend each day, hour by hour, from waking until sleeping.
This has really helped me to spend my time more purposefully and productively.
I encourage you to try it out.
A couple notes:
1. Perfectionism is not the goal.
Sometimes you might forget to log hours at a time. It's ok.
Whatever you do log, will have the positive effect of making you more conscious of how you're investing your time.
2. Awareness is the goal. You're not going to show your time log to anyone. You might not even analyze it. But the mere act of writing down how you actually spent your time, will increase you "time awareness."
Without even trying (except doing the act time logging), you'll use your time more wisely.
It's like weight-loss programs that ask participants to keep a "food journal" -- just the act of writing down what we're eating, makes us automatically eat more wisely. Awareness creates change naturally.
3. Honesty is important. Even if you're spending time doing something you don't want to do, write it down.
I've been time logging now for 2 weeks, and strangely, it's dissolved my video game addiction without trying hard. In the first few days, I did play some games but then I wrote it in my time log. After those first few days, I naturally stopped.
4. It helps to have a list of "good activities" that's handy for you to refer to, whenever you have free time. For example, on my list includes:
--Go patio and breathe 5x
--Memorize an inspirational quote (I have a list already to refer to)
--Play with my pets
--Pray for someone
--Read a useful book or internet bookmark
By doing these things, I get the double-pleasure of being able to write into my time log that I did something useful.
A couple smart phone apps I've used to help me time log:
aTimeLogger -- available for both iPhone and Android
Eternity Time Log -- www.komorian.com/eternity.html
I now prefer the Eternity app but both are excellent.
Advanced Tip -- evaluate your activities before & after you do them. So when I'm about to start an activity, I write the start time in my time log, what the activity is, and which of the 3 letters below probably will apply to this activity.
Then after I finish the activity, I write down the end time, and underline which of the letters indeed was true and cross out the letters that wasn't true:
B = Benefit (will / did this activity benefit someone else?)
E = Enjoyment (will / did I enjoy this activity?)
L = Learning (will / did I learn something useful for fulfilling my purpose?)
This has the wonderful effect that I now enjoy my activities more, find more learning from them, and more often, I make sure my activities are benefitting others too.
Try time logging even for 1 week and let me know how it goes for you. May we all use our precious time more purposefully, for the greater good of all.
George Kao is a Marketing Coach for Counselors, Coaches, Speakers, and Authors. He focuses on ethical & effective ways to grow one's platform and build true livelihood.