How To Do A Time Audit To Get More Hours In Your Day
At the end of the day do you ever think to yourself; what the heck did I even do today? You are looking around…the mess you cleaned up at least 3 times is back. There are multiple laundry baskets overflowing onto the floor, dirty dishes in the sink, and let’s not even get started on the work and errands that also needed to get done. We’ve all been there. Wishing there were more hours in the day to get stuff done. If only it was that easy..but, what if I told you, you CAN get more hours in your day? More time to do whatever you need to do, BUT there is a catch. You need to organize your schedule with a time audit.
Now, before you begin to feel overwhelmed, let’s chat about it!
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First Step, Let’s Discuss What The Goal Of A Time Audit Is
A Time Audit Is A Tool To Help You Find Enough Time To Complete Your Daily Tasks
A time audit is a great exercise to see exactly how many hours you have in a day for work, exercise, fun, side hustle, anything you want and need to get done! Not only will a time audit hold you accountable to what you are actually spending your time on, but it will also allow more freedom within your day. Sounds great right?
A Time Audit Is An Action Plan To Create Flexibility In Your Day
Did you know planning your days and weeks will actually create MORE flexibility in your days? Having a plan will eliminate a lot of wasted time, which you can then put into things you actually want to do!
A Time Audit is The Best Way To Create Your Ideal Day
This may be me geeking out with schedules, but I love brainstorming what my ideal (yet realistic) day may look like. It is amazing how much you can get done when you plan ahead.
Next Step, Let’s Discuss What A Time Audit it NOT
A Time Audit It Is Not For Urgent Or High-Priority Tasks
Urgent tasks will always come up, but there is no plan in the world that will have you prepared for that. Allowing flexibility in our schedules is key for emergencies that may arise. Remember, that will not always be the norm.
A Time Audit Is Not A To-Do List
A time audit is not a to-do list. Instead, it’s like a weekly calendar showing you your blocks of time for pre-determined tasks. You can even create a “free time” block within your days/week!
It Is Not A Way For You To Take Control Of Your Time
This is not a punishment. Instead, it is a way to allow more time for the things you love.
How Does A Time Audit And To-Do List Differ?
A time audit is a way for you to cover your hours in a day/week. What are you spending your time on? What do you need to be doing? What should you be doing that you are not? This practice will allow you to tweak your daily schedule and create a plan that will flow for you.
A to-do list is a list of things you need to get done at any given time. It does not tell you when to do it, but more of a brain dump of things that need to get done.
Your Step-By-Step Guide On How To Do A Time Audit
Here is an easy 5 step process to analyze your schedule and free up more time in your busy days.
1. Brain Dump Your Daily To-Do’s
Not only is a brain dump an excellent way to start a time audit, it is a wonderful activity to do daily to help reduce anxiety and overwhelm. In this case, we will use a brain dump to list out everything you *think* needs to be done.
Write down EVERYTHING that is on your mental to-do list. Laundry, dishes, mopping, taking out the trash, getting the mail, meal ideas, groceries, that doctor appointment you need to make, those shoes you wanted to shop for, that hobby you wanted to start, the workout routine you need to actually plan, and so on…
(I specifically love using these erasable gel ink pens, so I can erase errors as needed!)
The goal is to get it out of your head and onto paper.
2. Determine Wants And Needs Of Your Daily Schedule And Include Any New Goals
To begin, I like to start with an important activity or important work and move around those tasks, since that doesn’t take much effort to think of.
Now, list out all the things you want to do. Do you want to do a face mask once a week? Relax on the couch for 30 minutes a day? Finally, become consistent with your exercise routine? Write it all out! This is a great time to get creative and put yourself first. Anything can go on this list! I always include a block for work, my kids activities, and downtime for myself.
3. Create Time Blocks For Your Week – (Free Time Audit Template Here)
This is where it gets fun. Time blocking your week will show you exactly what you have time for. I like to time block in 30-minute increments, and on occasion, I will add in 15-minute blocks depending on my needs. There are so many ways you can start your initial time block. I like to review the list that I made above and start assigning tasks to a time block on a weekly chart I make on scratch paper.
Start by making a note of your sleep time. We all need 7-9 hours of sleep, so block that off. For me, it’s 9-5.
Add in activities that have a specific time. I have to get my son from preschool at 12:30, which means I leave at 12:20. I have to get my daughter from school at 2:30 so I leave at 2. Be sure to include your work hours. Trash goes out every Wednesday night for Thursday morning pickup. Tball practice is every Tuesday at 5:30. You get the idea here… You want to write out every single day of the week.
4. Make Adjustments
Your time audit should be messy. There will be scribbles and many edits. I like to do it on paper because the physical act of writing is soothing for me. Then, I like to transfer it over to a Word document chart or an Excel spreadsheet for a more permanent, formal time blocking worksheet.
Another tip is to do multiple variations of your time audit. I will move things around to see if that allows more free time in other parts of my day. You can always go back and edit things if it turns out to not work when in real life vs on paper.
5. Be Flexible
Remember, this is a framework for your days/weeks. It is meant to be changed. You may be going through your week and realize it takes you double the time to do laundry than you originally thought, which will require adjustments. Just roll with it! The goal is not to become rigid in our routines, but to find time to get organized and complete tasks that need to be done on an ongoing basis while allowing time for relaxation, family, and fun!
I like to think of my time audit as a sample of my ideal day and week.
Possible Roadblocks You May Run Into:
I Don’t Have Time To Organize My Schedule
You don’t have time NOT to do it. If you are searching for ways to get more time, then you have enough time to analyze your schedule. Think of the freedom you will have with a schedule clearly laid out on a sheet of paper. Everything that needs to get done is listed, you have time in there for “me time”, your kids, work, cleaning, etc..
I’m A Busy Mom, This Wouldn’t Work for Me
I get it, adding anything to our do list right now sounds terrible. Us busy moms have enough going on, do we really have time to make a schedule for all this stuff? But what if I told you how eye-opening this exercise can be. We need to come to terms that there isn’t enough time for all the things we believe we SHOULD be doing. You know what I am talking about. “Should” have a dust-free home, all your meals prepped for the week, all the laundry perfectly folded and put away. Make time for exercise, a morning meditation routine, etc… We let our minds go crazy thinking of all the unimportant tasks and to-dos. Wasted time goes to worry, stress, and overwhelm that these “shoulds” bring.
Think about it…
What if we took all that swirling around in our head, assessed its importance, and then put it down on a piece of paper. How freeing would it feel to get all this crap off your mind and onto paper? Not only are you going to have some mental freedom, but you are going to be able to have more time in your day to get most of these to-dos done!
Stop Making Excuses And Engaging In Time-Wasting Activities
Tough love alert. I bet you have a lot of excuses as to why you can’t get the important things done. Can you really not fit in 30 minutes of exercise? Or is it just not a priority? How much time do you spend scrolling on your phone, watching tv, or getting distracted by less important tasks? This is actually something I struggle with every day. When I feel overwhelmed I scroll on my phone or organize areas of the home that really don’t need to be cleaned. While I truly believe self-care is important (for me self-care is mind-numbing scrolling and organizing); there is a time and a place and it cannot take over your entire day.
Spend Less Time On Social Media And Other Time Wasters
I know, I know. I love zoning out on instagram, Tik Tok, and silly TV shows. The good news is you CAN allow time for this. The difficult news is, maybe it needs to be less time than you are spending now.
Final Thoughts On Creating A Time Audit For Better Work-Life Balance
We all can agree we need more hours in our day. Our days are jam-packed and overwhelming.
When you feel like you have a million things to do, the most important thing you can do to fix this is to write it out. Generally, a lot of time is wasted on tv, our phones, etc… I am not saying we stop doing this, but rather know exactly where we are spending our time and adjust accordingly to our own personal goals and priorities. By doing a time audit, you are taking control of your schedule and getting done what is important to you.
I encourage you to try this out for a small period of time and see how your life changes! Please report back and let me know if this gave you a boost in productivity and if at the end of the week you are able to accomplish more of the things that make you happy! =)
Bonus: The Best Planners And Journals To Help You Stay Organized And Improve Your Time Management Skills
Here are some well-known journals and planners people love when getting their life organized! They say the best planner is the one you will actually use, but it doesn’t hurt when they are pretty and functional.
Related Time Audit And Time Management Articles:
- Time Blocking 101 for Busy Moms
- Organize Your Schedule with a Brain Dump
- How to Clean Your House in 15 Minutes