I received an excellent comment from id_bob on yesterday’s post about my new 4HWW Time Audit worksheet. His comments, which are right on point are: “hey, isn’t this missing the point? You’re task switching too much. You’re being inefficient by even recording the tasks. Will you waste more time in time auditing then recover from focusing.” There’s greater details in the comments, and of course, he’s exactly right!
But that’s missing the point a bit about why I’m doing this (and why I have a feeling other 4HWWs are also trying to audit their time). I’m trying to find out where I’m losing my time. I am nowhere near my 4HWW time goals, and in part that’s because I’m running around doing so many tasks that at the end the day, I wonder where all the time went. The 4HWW Time Audit tool is not meant to be something to be used if you are already time efficient, nor is it meant to be an operational tool… it is a diagnostic / auditing tool only.
The point is that I’m still working 12+ hour days and not getting any closer to my 4HWW goal. Part of the problem is that I’m already doing too much… I’m already task switching, so I’m not making the problem any worse by doing some analysis. Just like a doctor needs to do some tests, perform some scans, or do some blood work to figure out what’s ailing the patient, I need some analysis to figure out what’s ailing my time. The bloodwork / tests aren’t meant to solve the problem — they are purely diagnostic. Similarly, the 4HWW Time Audit is not meant to govern the way you spend your time, but rather audit the way you have been spending it. Once that has been identified enough to determine the patterns and trends… toss the 4hWW audit tool! It’s time to Eliminate, Automate, Outsource, and Repeat.
This is an analysis tool, not a management tool. If you already know where your time is going, then don’t use this sheet! This sheet won’t help you, and in fact, it will be a hindrance For those who are already cramming a hundred tasks into a single day, this 4HWW Time Audit sheet aims to find out what tasks are the time-wasters, which tasks are the ones to accentuate. This is purely an analysis tool, not a tool for running something once you’ve already achieved the efficiency point.
In any case, the question was how much time to spend on this worksheet. The answer: as little as possible. I spent 2 minutes on this spreadsheet first thing this morning assigning tasks and allocating time, and then 30 seconds on this spreadsheet after each task recording how much time it took. No more time than that. No need to put “work on the spreadsheet” in the spreadsheet. I had 10 tasks total for the day. I think 5 minutes aggregate invested in determining my time wasters goes a long way to getting me to 4 hours a day!
Thoughts? Do you agree? Disagree?