One of the topics I discuss with clients often is time management. Many clients believe they don’t have enough time to do everything.

They are correct.

There is never enough time to do everything that needs doing. We could work 24/7 and never get everything done. Effective allocation of time to priorities is crucial.

When I ask clients about how they spend their time, often I get generalised answers. “About 70 per cent on work and 30 per cent on personal stuff.” Or, “I’m not sure, but I feel like it’s more work than not work.” Very few clients accurately measure how they allocate their time and those that do tend not to have a time management problem.

In 2018, the Harvard Business Review published a series of articles on how CEOs manage time called The Leaders Calendar. The aim was to understand the complexity of the role of the CEO and how successful CEOs managed time among competing commitments. The study measured, in detail, what 27 leaders did, in 15-minute increments, over three months.

Each of the CEOs then discussed the results with a coach who assisted them in understanding how best to allocate their time.

You don’t have to measure your time for three months. That will yield good data to work with, however, I suggest that you will get insights if you measure it for a month, a week or even a day.

Things to look for are:

  • How much time are you spending at work versus personal time?
  • How much time are you in the office, travelling or offsite?
  • Are you spending your time communicating face-to-face, by video, by phone, or by email?
  • Are you working on your core agenda or other activities?
  • How much time are you spending at the strategic, operational or tactical levels?
  • How much time are you spending on meetings?
  • Is your time scheduled or spontaneous?
  • Of all your constituents and stakeholders, who are you allocating the most time too?

I have a challenge for you and an offer. Spend one week measuring your time in detail. Track 15-minute intervals 24-hours a day for seven days. Once you do this, contact me, and I will allocate some time to working with you, and your data, to help you better understand how you could allocate your time.

My hunch is once you start tracking, you will find your own ways to do this.