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The Six Disciplines Blog


Friday, December 05, 2014

The Importance of Time Tracking

If you want to improve performance, or likewise increase capacity or capability, you need to track the one thing that you’ll never get back: time.

In order to improve effectiveness and efficiency, you must understand how your time is being used. With all of the technological advances over the past two decades, we’re continually forced to do things “better, faster, cheaper.” In other words, all of these advances have taught us how to be more efficient.

But – have any of these advances (spreadsheets, email, cell phones, IM, etc.) made us more effective?

The difference between the two?

  • Being efficient is essentially doing things right.
  • Being effective is essentially doing the right things.

It’s not enough to just do things right – we also need to balance it with doing the right things, doing the right things based on their priority.

As Dr. Stephen Covey once said: “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”

BOTTOMLINE: Take a good look at your calendar: Are you spending time on the most important things? Are you spending the appropriate amount of time on those activities that are the highest priority? How do you know?

If you’re not tracking how you spend your time, how will you ever know?

The best way is to have an individual plan (we recommend quarterly) – of daily activities that you’re responsible for, which support the organization’s goals, initiatives and projects. Track your time against these projects daily, and review weekly. The goal is to spend the most time on the most important activities that get you closer to achieving the organization’s goals..

Now, consider this: multiply this daily/weekly time-tracking activity times the number of people in your organization. You’ll be amazed at how much more productivity and results you’ll begin to see (or, very frustrated, by how much time is actually wasted on non-productive, non-essential activities…)

So…. if you’re looking to improve your performance (or the performance of your organization) – how can you possibly improve, if you don’t track your time!

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Since 2005, the Six Disciplines blog offers posts about performance excellence, strategy execution, business coaching, leadership development, innovation, and business process improvement. This blog has received prestigious awards for leadership and management and has been syndicated by several major media sources.