Learn how to Make Time to take on something new and unfamiliar while still balancing your other obligations. The secret to this is starting to understand how much time you have and how you’re managing that time. And we're going to take a different approach than you may have seen in the past, using this Time Tracker template.
Being a change leader puts you at a disadvantage
If you are a change leader, you operate at a disadvantage compared to people who are content in the status quo.
- As a change leader you have to learn and execute in unfamiliar territory, and it requires a LOT of time.
- You may also have to operate in 2 worlds, handling near term commitments while driving long-term change initiatives. Both of these factors put you disadvantage - making it harder for you to find the time to do all the things you need to do.
I'm going to give you a tool for overcoming that disadvantage, and making the time to do what you need to achieve your goals.
Let me explain.
When you set a true goal (a goal that is going to really make you grow and learn vs. just a task), you're going to have to spend more time in unfamiliar territory, learning new things. You won't be able to fall back on old comfortable processes and go-to methods that may have worked so efficiently for you in the past. Instead, you’ll have to spend time learning how to think differently, and how to work differently.
And therein lies the challenge.
Most of us feel like we barely have enough time to do what we’re already supposed to be doing, let alone learn how to do something new.
This is where it’s very easy to get discouraged and give up - this is especially true for change leaders, learning how to make a change happen either on a personal level, team level or larger scale. Your mind just naturally draws a conclusion: "This is new and hard, its probably not going to happen." Without realizing it, we can subconciously give up, and start reducing our focus on our goal.
So today you have a chance to learn how to Make Time to take on something new and unfamiliar while still balancing your other obligations.
The secret to this is starting to understand how much time you have and how you’re managing that time. And we're going to take a different approach than you may have seen in the past.
A lot of books talk about how to "save time." As if minutes were like pennies we could hoard in a jar. They're not. They come and they go. There's no "saving" them. Its far better to learn how to use those minutes. The starting point is becoming aware of how many minutes - how much time - you actually have.
I want to share something simple and practical method for finding the time to do the things you want to do. It will open your eyes about how much time you really have.
A simplified tool to track and analyze your time
I've developed and refined a Time Tracker Template using a Google Sheet. This makes it easy to track and analyze how you use your time. Not only is it easy, you'll find that its actually valuable to helping you plan your day and achieve your goals.
Let me describe it here briefly, so you can know what's in it, and modify it as you wish:
7 Column headers:
- Date: Today's Date: You'll use a shortcut key Control semicolon to insert today's date. This lets you go back and review how you spend your time over the previous week or month.
- Start Time: You'll use a shortcut key Control semicolon to insert the exact time you started a task
- Stop Time: The same shortcut key will inser the time you finish the task or switch to another task.
- Duration: elapsed time between Start and Stop
- Category: This is a limited set of categories describing how you use your time. I suggest keeping the list small: Work, Family, Sleep, Health, Downtime, etc.
- Activity: This is the exact task you were doing - washing dishes, taking kids to school, preparing a report, writing code etc.
- Notes: This is handy for observations, reminders, but its also a great place to record cases where you were achieving 2 goals at once, like cleaning the house while listening to a learning course or podcast.
Learn these 2 shortcut keys for quickly entering date and start/stop times:
- Control semicolon inserts today's date and
- Control Shift Colon inserts the current time
(Use Command if you're on a Mac)
I've also added data sorts to the columns. This allows you to quickly sort by category...so you can for example see how much time you're spending on specific categories or activities.
Again you can download this free template and try it out yourself.
Try it for a week, and there's a good chance you'll do it permanently. Its that valuable. You will learn SO much.
My experience: the missing 1/3
When I started this, I did it for a couple weeks, and then liked it so much I did it for the entire next month. At that end of that month, I decided to make it a permanent ongoing practice.
I was amazed at how much more time I was "finding" and putting to use. I was getting more of my goals done in shorter timeframes but didn't feel swamped or overloaded. I was happy with how much time I was spending with my family, taking care of my health, plus managing my projects and clients.
Then at the end of the 2nd month, I had an epiphany.
I was reviewing how I'd spent my time that month: how many hours on this project vs that project etc.
I knew there was some amount of time that I wasn't capturing, but I assumed it was small. I felt successful. I was optimizing my time beyond my wildest dreams.
And that's when the epiphany happened.
I multiplied 24 hours x the number of days in the month. A 30-day month has 720 hours in it(!).
7hrs of sleep per night x 30 days = 210 hrs...subtract that from 720 and you have 510 hours. If you assume 40hr work weeks, then that comes out to 160 hours, which still leaves you with 350 hours.
When I reviewed the hours I had tracked, I suddenly realized 1/3 of the month wasn't accounted for! After accounting for a very ambitious workload, adequate sleep, plenty of time for family, health, etc....after all of that, 1/3 of the month's hours were unused! Or at least - not used intentionally.
Imagine telling me at the beginning of the month, "you'll be able to do all these things this month and actually you'll only need 2/3 of the month to do them."
If I could do this much with only 2/3s of the time, what could I do if I used the entire time intentionally?
This increased my resolve to track ALL my time and use it intentionally. It didn't have to be all working - it could also be enjoyment or family time. I started plugging a category I called Downtime. Time that has no agenda...its just not work. The key point: use your time intentionally.
Change leaders operate at a disadvantage compared to people who are content in the status quo. Change leaders have to learn and execute in unfamiliar territory, and it requires a LOT of time.
- build a solution that leverages emerging tech to make things better
- build a team that knows how to take that solution to the masses with excellence and a precision mindset.
- build relationships with investors, customers, regulators and other stakeholders.
- build trust across all of the above - this is most important of all.
All this building takes a LOT of time. The good news is you DO have the time.
With the Time Tracker Tool I've shared here, you'll be able to use your time for maximum value.
It's easy. It's quick. And will literally help you make time to do all the things you want to do.