What would you learn if you tracked your time for 2 years?
Sam Corcos, co-founder and CEO of a bio-wearable company called Levels, tracked his time in 15-minute increments for two years. (YES! Two years!)
The result is a fascinating article that compares how we THINK we spend our time versus how we ACTUALLY spend our time.
A few of his conclusions were obvious: CEOs wear many hats. A leader's best time investment is removing obstacles for others. Time tracking is tedious so you better use a process...
You may find other conclusions more interesting: Communication is your main job and you must do it well. Always seek to make yourself redundant. Delegate more (a lot more).
My personal favorite piece of advice:
"Your job as a CEO is to build fire departments, not put out fires. If you’re regularly putting out fires yourself, you’re doing it wrong."
I would say that a leader's job is to build a fire department for his or her area too - this is not just the CEO's role.
I was recently working with the Executive Director of a large Nashville nonprofit that was trying to reprioritize her work to ensure she was operating at an executive level. She tracked her time over two weeks and also found that how she thought she would spend her time differed from how she actually spent her time. She was then able to make informed decisions about how to better manage her calendar in the future.
Conclusion: A small daily effort yielded impactful change over time.
What could you learn by tracking your time?
Yes, the task sounds tedious, but imagine what conclusions you could draw if you just had the data! Many of my clients are shocked by the total amount of time they thought they spent in strategy and a team building vs the actual time they spent on email, social media, and news sites.
To begin time tracking, start small. Create a grid in Excel or on a piece of lined paper that blocks time off in 15 minute increments. Put it on you desk and simply jot down your activities a few times during the day. For example, for each 15 minute slot, you may note items like email, lunch, driving, cooking, cleaning, bedtime routine. Alternatively, you may find it helpful to use categories like strategic thinking, email follow up, one-on-ones, self-care.
The goal is to discover how you are really spending your time and then decide if that is indeed the best use of your time.
Every single one of my clients that has tried this activity has found significant value.
Every. Single. One.
Nicole Provonchee is an executive coach and strategist that works with women leaders and teams across the nation.
After 20 years climbing the corporate ladder, she started Bright Blue Consulting, where she can combine her skills as a coach with her practical experiences as a leader and executive.
Nicole is a sought-after speaker and can bring her "get out of your own way", self-advocacy, negotiation skills workshops to your organization or company. Learn more on her speaking page. Or, reach out to her today.