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How to Do a Time Audit to Regain Control Over Your Time


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Hey there!


Today, I have a question for you: what is the most precious resource we have?

In my opinion, it's clearly time! We all want more time.


But what's ironic about time is that we don't value it enough. We worry about losing money way more than we worry about losing time. However, money can be regained. Time can't. Once a second has passed, there is no way to have it back.


So let me ask you a question: how do you use your time? Do you feel like you're using it wisely?


To help you answer this question, I wanted to talk about the different ways one can use time. According to Fabien Olicard, the author of the book Votre temps est infini (unfortunately, it hasn't been translated to English yet), there are five types of time. By knowing what type of time your days are made of, it's easier to determine whether or not you're using your time the way you'd like to use it.


So let's dive into these types of time!


Types of time


1. Professional time


All the time spent on activities that allow you to earn money (whether in the short term on in the long term) comes into this category. It can be your day job, your side-hustle, or even an activity that you want to monetize in the future.


2. Mandatory time


This category includes all the mandatory activities you have to do. Often, these activities also bring some dissatisfaction or displeasure. For example, all the vital activities like eating, sleeping and taking care of your personal hygiene will go in this category. Chores, administrative tasks, commutes, doctor's appointments, etc., go into this category.


If you're unsure where to classify some activities or tasks, they probably correspond to this type of time, especially if you have a negative feeling about them.


3. Personal time


This kind of time includes all the activities that generate pleasure. In this category, you can put activities like watching a movie, going out with your family or your friends, going on a holiday, looking at your social media (unless it's for your business, in which case it goes into the "Professional Time" category), etc. You can also put here some tasks or chores that you enjoy doing and don't classify as "Mandatory Time."


For example, I enjoy grocery shopping and doing my budget (I know, I'm crazy 😂), so I could put them here. Decide whether you want to maintain this category as purely "entertaining" or not.


4. Time for you


All the activities that nourish your body, mind, and soul are part of this category. They are usually activities that allow you to learn something or develop a skill. Here are some examples: reading, practicing a sport, organizing your week or day, meditating, praying, taking a coaching session, etc.


Unfortunately, this is the type of time that is often sacrificed, even though it's the most valuable of all. Indeed, this type of time is the one that allows you to grow. So make sure you give it an important place in your days!


5. Lost time


All the activities you do without intention or a conscious decision, which often last way longer than desired, and don't bring anything positive or useful, go into this category. You can also put in this category the idle time that usually occurs between different tasks or types of time.


Here are some examples: scrolling mindlessly on your social media feed, falling into the rabbit hole of YouTube, looking inside the fridge because you're bored (who has never done that? 😂), watching a movie, series or program that doesn't interest you, etc.

It is the type of time you should try to eliminate if you want to make the most of your time.


By diminishing this type of time, you'll be able to have more time to dedicate to useful, mandatory, and/or pleasurable activities.


(Olicard, 2019, p.89-111)


Now that you know the different ways in which you can use your time, it's time (pun unintended 😅) to see how you actually use your time!


How? By doing a time audit!


Time audit


A time audit is simply the process of tracking the way you use your time. Why would you that, might you be wondering? Because we tend to have no idea on what we really use our time on.


For example, if I ask you what you did this morning, do you remember clearly everything you did and if your time was used wisely? What about yesterday? And last week?

Doing a time audit over a few days (I recommend a week) will allow you to have a clear picture of how you use your time. You'll probably be very surprised!


Do you remember that we talked about the importance of having clearly defined priorities in episode #15? Well, doing this time audit will allow you to verify whether you're actually spending your time on your priorities or not. Here again, you might be surprised at how little time you dedicate to your priorities.


The beauty of doing a time audit is that it allows you to rectify the situation. You can make an informed decision on how to use your time mindfully and efficiently from now on.


  • Do you spend too much time on social media? Limit your screen time (listen to episode #7 for tips).


  • Do you barely have any Time for You? Add some of these activities to your morning or evening routine, for example.



The point is: with the data provided by the time audit, you know exactly where your time goes and make improvements directly to the root of the problem.


Another advantage of doing this time audit is that you get a clearer idea of how long it really takes you to complete your tasks. And this is essential information to have if you want to plan your days realistically.


For example, if you think it takes you one hour to do a task — when it actually takes your three — but always schedule one hour to do it, you'll always be running out of time to do your other tasks. However, if you know it takes you three hours, thanks to the time audit, you'll be able to plan your days and your tasks much more efficiently and realistically!


Now, you might be wondering how often you should do this exercise. Don't worry: it's not something you have to do all the time! 😉 I recommend doing it at least twice a year. Your tasks can change throughout the year, you usually become faster at doing them with time and experience, you might experience different moods or energy levels during different periods of the year, etc. So doing the audit more than once will allow you to be more accurate.


I like to do this exercise two or three times a year.


And to help you do this time audit, I've prepared a workbook in which you'll find two spreads: a daily spread and a weekly spread. Use the one you prefer, but, as mentioned, I recommend doing the audit over a week to get more accurate results! You can find the workbook in my library:



You can also use time tracking apps, but you'll only have an idea of the activities you do on your computer and not during the rest of the day.


I hope this information will help you regain control over your time!


I wish you a zenly organized week,


Sarah



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Sources


Olicard, F. (2019). Votre temps est infini. First: Paris, France.