How to Find More Time for the Things That Matter

Published by Linda Rolf on 7/7/2021

Find more time for what matters most

If you could describe your ideal business day to me, what would you tell me about it? How would you spend your all-too-scarce time? What does a well-done day feel like?

Take a few minutes right now—lean back and allow yourself to imagine that perfect day.

Time's up. Now, back to reality.

We all have too many days that enthusiastically start with a well-intentioned to do list, and end with barely a checkmark. But this email isn't about to-do lists-- although I can't imagine a day without at least a few of them. Instead, we're going to backtrack to the place where lists begin.

Let's start with a fun Where on Earth Did My Day Go exercise. The purpose of this discovery is to help you—

  • regain control of your valuable time,
  • contribute more of the expertise your clients and company want from you and,
  • create more of your ideal business days.

  • Where on Earth Did My Day Go?

    Grab a sheet of paper and pen or this free template. Low tech eliminates the distraction of one more piece of software you have to learn. You don't need more complications in your day.

    Simple is good.

    Divide the paper into six columns.

  • Time: Beginning with your typical day's start time, list time in 15-minute increments. Stop with your end of day time. If you're one of those people who scroll social media or continue casually working during streaming downtime, include those hours as well.

  • Activity: Be as specific as you can about each activity. You'll want to remember the details later.

  • On Target: Does this activity directly contribute to your written weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual goals?

  • Seat of the Pants: Is this activity outside your area of expertise? Be honest with yourself. Are you doing this because you want to learn how to do it, think it can't be that hard to figure out, or don't have anyone on your team who can do it?

  • Love It: These are the activities that light you up every time. You have a deep sense of satisfaction when you tackle these.

  • Dread It: These are everything Love It isn't. You do these activities because you feel like you must, but they are soul-sucking every time.

  • What We'll Do Next

    At the end of this exercise, you'll identify opportunities to dedicate more of your time and energy to what matters most to you, your clients, and your company. This is just the beginning.

  • To get the most value from this discovery, we recommend you track your time for a week– even longer if you're committed to long-term gains.

  • To provide useful insights, it needs to be accurate. No half-assing it.

  • This is intended to be a personal exercise so be honest with yourself.

  • There are no right /wrong answers, and no grades are given.

  • This might feel like a tedious distraction when you begin, but don't give up too soon. Valuable patterns that you might not have seen before will start to come together.

  • In our next post, you will see why this information makes a difference. We'll share how a simple one-word change can reduce the wasteful results of Seat of the Pants and Dread It activities.

    Tags: Productivity

    . . .

    Linda Rolf is a lifelong curious learner who believes a knowledge-first approach builds valuable client relationships. She is fueled by discovering the unexpected connections among technology, data, information, people and process. For more than four decades, Linda and Quest Technology Group have been their clients' trusted advisor and strategic partner.

    Linda believes that lasting value and trust are created through continuously listening, sharing knowledge freely, and delivering more than their clients even know they need. As the CIO of their first startup client said, "The value that Quest brings to Cotton States is far greater than the software they develop."

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