[Time Management #2] Time Logging: Log Where Your Time Actually Goes


This article is the second in a series of four articles that presents the basics of diagnosing how you tend to spend your time and how you can develop the discipline of spending your time on what really matters to you. Yesterday’s article established that effective time management is truly not about managing time as such; rather, it is about managing priorities. See full article here.

Time Logging where time actually goes for 'Time Management'

Log How You Spend Your Time

“Effective executives, in my observation, do not start with their tasks. They start with their time. And they do not start out with planning. They start by finding out where their time actually goes.”
-Peter Drucker in ‘The Effective Executive’

Before you begin managing your time effectively, you need to develop an idea of how you spend time currently.

Below is a simple exercise to help you track how you use your hours and minutes during a suitably long period of time, ideally a whole week. If you follow a specific routine everyday, you may be able to approximate your time analysis by doing this exercise for a couple of weekdays and a Saturday or a Sunday. Alternatively, you may choose to do this only during your time at work. Again, more data leads to a more comprehensive analysis; hence, try to log an entire week.

Log where time actually goes -- Time Log Template

  1. Create a simple chart that consists of four columns as in the above illustration. Column 1 contains labels for time intervals, in 10- or 15-minute increments. Column 2 records your activity. Column 3 identifies the project or purpose that activity served. Column 4 rates the effectiveness of time spent. Itemizing all these details is the key to identifying time wasted and time effectively used.
  2. Make as many photocopies of this chart as required for a whole week.
  3. Carry your time log charts around with you wherever you go. Record every activity — significant or insignificant, large or small — during the entire week. Include time spent at your morning ablutions, travel time, time spent chitchatting around the water cooler, time spent helping your daughter with homework, telephone time, time spent on the internet — your sleeping time too.

Time Log Forms

Here are two PDF forms you could download and use:

You need not necessarily stop every 10th or 15th minute to record your activity. You can fill up the relevant rows once every hour or so. If you spend two hours on an airplane, you can mark 12 rows (of 10 minutes each) with a single comment. You need not be very precise: if you spend 7 minutes on the phone with a customer, you can record spending an entire 10 minutes.

Here is what your log should look like.

Log where time actually goes -- Time Log Example

Benefits of Time Logging

The immediate benefit of time logging is that it induces a sense of significance of your time. It compels you into the right mindset to consider habits you need to develop, avoid or change and start using your hours and minutes more effectively.

The more significant advantage is that your time logs will serve as a foundation for structuring your time according to your priorities and thus enable effective time management.

Tomorrow’s article will focus on time-analysis to help you review results from your time logs and prepare you for budgeting time according to your priorities.

Four Questions for Employee Performance Appraisals

Peter Drucker is widely regarded as the “Father of Modern Management,” and one of the most influential management philosophers of the modern era. In “The Effective Executive,” Peter Drucker advocates that a manager focus on an employee’s strengths when appraising his/her performance.

Four Questions for Performance Appraisals

Effective executives usually work out their own unique form of performance appraisal. It starts out with a statement of the major contributions expected from a person in his past and present positions and a record of his performance against these goals. Then it asks four questions:

  1. What has he [or she] done well?
  2. What, therefore, is he likely to be able to do well?
  3. What does he have to learn or to acquire to be able to get the full benefit from his strength?
  4. If I had a son or daughter, would I be willing to have him or her work under this person? If yes, why? If no, why?

Call for Action

Four Questions Managers Can Address in Employee Performance Appraisals Strong performance motivates outstanding performers. Therefore, managers must make it a priority to understand each employee’s motivation and strengths and provide objective, fair and consistent appreciation to keep him/her fully engaged.

Managers, however, often fail to realize the prospect of enhancing employee performance by targeting their efforts on each employee’s strengths. They often resort to deliberating over an employee’s shortcomings, and, thus attempt to develop abilities not inline with the employee’s strengths.

Address the above four questions when preparing the performance appraisal of an employee. These questions enable you, the manager, to reinforce the strengths of the employee and guide a career that focusses on his/her strengths.

The Legacy of Peter Drucker, the Original Management Guru

The Legacy of Peter Ferdinand Drucker

Yesterday was the first anniversary of the death of Peter Ferdinand Drucker, “the father of modern management.”

Drucker is arguably the most influential management philosopher of the modern era. He is the author of about forty books and innumerable essays on managerial skills, management concepts and social analyses. As a consultant, author and speaker for over sixty years, Drucker influenced the thinking of many executives in businesses, not-for-profits and faith-based organizations. Read his detailed biographies here, here and here.

Drucker wrote about many concepts and practices decades before the trends were discernable: knowledge workers, empowering employees, decentralization, management by objectives, focus on results instead of actions, the responsibility of the corporation in society, knowledge-based society, rise of multinational businesses, etc.

Drucker’s writings are devoid of buzzwords and management jargon and easily resonate with his readers. Today, we accept Drucker’s thoughts as conventional wisdom. Consequently, scores of business school courses require reading of his books.

My first exposure to Drucker’s thoughts was when I read his manual The Effective Executiveduring my undergraduate studies. Over the last few years, I have read and re-read many of his books and essays. Drucker’s unique style of expression and simple, clear language have left a deep impression on my pursuits, thoughts and actions. Below is one of my favorite Peter Drucker instructions. See my separate blog post on his inspirational quotations.

Successful leaders don’t start out asking, “What do I want to do?” They ask, “What needs to be done?” Then they ask, “Of those things that would make a difference, which are right for me?” They don’t tackle things they aren’t good at.

On a question about his legacy, Drucker once said that he has “helped a few good people be effective in doing the right things.” Just a few? Drucker’s farsighted insights and timeless thoughts will influence management thought for generations to come.

Inspirational Quotations by Peter Drucker

Yesterday was the first anniversary of the death of Peter Ferdinand Drucker, “the father of modern management.” Here is a selection of inspirational quotations from one of the most influential management philosophers of modern era. For more details, please see my article “The Legacy of Peter Drucker“.

We now accept the fact that learning is a
lifelong process of keeping abreast of change.
And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn.
Peter Drucker

Plans are only good intentions unless
they immediately degenerate into hard work.
Peter Drucker

My greatest strength as a consultant is
to be ignorant and ask a few questions.
Peter Drucker

Efficiency is doing better what is already being done.
Peter Drucker

Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked;
leadership is defined by results not attributes.
Peter Drucker

People who don’t take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year.
People who do take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year.
Peter Drucker

Rank does not confer privilege or
give power. It imposes responsibility.
Peter Drucker

The most serious mistakes are
not being made as a result of wrong answers.
The truly dangerous thing is asking the wrong question.
Peter Drucker

The only thing we know about the future is that it will be different.
Peter Drucker