How to Keep a Time Diary

July 4, 2012 by  Filed under: Management 

Before we get into the practicalities of how to keep a time diary, let’s have a look at who would make use of one, why you should keep one and what they record.

Who Could Make use of a Time Diary?

Business owners or executives, full-time mums, university professors, students – in short, anyone with a busy schedule could make use of the information contained in a time diary. It’s also really useful for anyone feeling stressed and over-stretched, as it’ll help you regain control of your time. Even if you feel you already make good use of your time, there’s no harm in checking that things are as efficient as you think they are occasionally.

Why Keep a Time Diary?

The aim of a time diary is to provide you with information that will enable you to become more efficient.The information you record will help you identify:

  • what activities take up too much of your time
  • which activities need more time
  • tasks that can be combined
  • the most and least productive parts of your day.

You can then analyse the information recorded and use it to plan your day better, making the most of your time and increasing your productivity.

What do Time Diaries Record?

The clue really is in the name, as a time diary, literally, records how you spend your time each day. And, it’s not just for recording what you consider to be ‘work’ activities either. It’s designed to record every activity you complete in the day – from the moment you get up to the time you fall into bed. You should record when you brush your teeth, put the washing on, feed the cat, travel to work and so on.

However, if you choose to keep a time diary, it’s no use being slapdash about it. The level of detail you record is important as you want to be able to analyse it later. So, you should make sure it is:

  • detailed and clear enough for you to be able to see where you spend your time – a lack of detail will make it less effective. But, don’t go overboard either, you only need to state the nature of the task in brief, plus the start and end time
  • a minimum of seven consecutive days – this is the minimum time you should keep the diary for. The longer you keep it, the better as you’ll get a much fuller picture of where your time is being spent. Plus, it’s important that you note down what you do at the weekends. This is so you can identify if work that should be completed in the week is spilling into your weekends.
  • completed as you go – fill it in as you start and complete each task. If you wait until the end of the day you will almost certainly forget to note some things down and, most probably, under or over estimate how long each task took to complete.

It may seem like extra work for someone who is already trying to be more efficient, but it’s worth it and the information you’ll gather about how you work will be invaluable. After all, it’ll only take a minute to update the diary and it is only for seven days.

How do I Create a Time Diary?

It’s simple. All you need is a notebook and pen or an electronic device with a word processing or notepad type function. Then you set up a record sheet that allows you to note down the start and finish of every task you complete throughout the day, into the evening and right up until you go to bed.

You should split the diary sheet into hours down the side and then break each hour down into 10 minute slots along the top. You’ll now have a table into which you can record your activity.

What Should you do With the Information?

You can now analyse the information you’ve gathered and decide where to make changes to increase your productivity. Maybe you can delegate certain tasks, combine others to save time or start working in the mornings, if that seems to be your most productive time of day. You should carry out the exercise on a regular basis to maintain peak efficiency and productivity. And, don’t forget to build in a bit of ‘me’ time to help keep your stress levels down.

All-in-all, a time diary is an effective method of controlling one of your most precious commodities – your time!

Shelley Bowers has been assisting business students since 2006 as an advisor for Business Training. She is committed to helping students achieve success with their courses, which cover wide range of subjects for the workplace, so they can find success in their careers. Business Training offer a home-study CPD Effective Time Management course to help you develop time management skills. Find out how managing your time better can reduce your stress levels.

Article Source:

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Prev Post:
Next Post: