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The biggest struggle we all face is a lack of time. We know what it is we want to be doing; maybe we wish for time to exercise or time to read. We may crave more time with loved ones or the time to really focus on a new project. What we don’t know is how we will ever find the time to do the things we want to be doing, when everything else is screaming for our attention.

When working with clients, marketing your business and managing a personal life, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. We may become frustrated because we feel like everything is important and the reality is that we only have so many hours in the day. This moment of overwhelm is when you need a simple time audit.

How we think we spend our time and how we spend our time, are often two very different things. A time audit will give you a comprehensive understanding of where you are spending your time. It will show you how much time we are using on each task or client and help you to spot time wasters in your day so that you can begin the work to better manage your time.

Whether you admit to having a few time wasters in your day, or you consider yourself a productivity expert, a time audit will reveal where you truly are spending your time. A time audit is simply a log of how you spend your time. For the audit to be effective, you need to create it in real time. Therefore, creating a list from memory is not going to do the trick. An effective time audit should be done over a period of time, usually one week and cover regular intervals of time such as every 60, 30 or 15 minutes.

An effective time audit will allow you to discover the time wasters in your day, show you areas where you can better batch your time, and allow you to prioritize and schedule tasks around your priorities.

Here’s how to do your time audit:

The first step is to download this time audit worksheet. The time audit should cover one full week. You can decide if you would like to track your work week or all seven days. You will need to print one worksheet for each day you wish to track. You will keep these sheets next to you at your desk or in your planner, whichever is most convenient.

The next step is to set a timer for a set amount of time. You can track your time as little as every 15 minutes up to 1 hour. The shorter the timeframe, the more detailed your results!

Now, track your time! Each time the alarm sounds, write down exactly what you were doing at that time and reset the alarm. You don’t need to go into detail or spend much time tracking. The entire process will take seconds, and the results will be well worth the interruption.

Once you have collected a full week of data, it’s time to review your results. Go through each day and highlight anything that you should not be doing. I like to use different colors to designate what is a time waster, what I should delegate to others, what is important client facing work and what is a business building activity.

Once you review your time audit, you can develop a plan to better manage your time. Here are some questions you can ask yourself:

Where am I wasting time? Chances are there are some obvious time wasters in your day. Common distractions include watching TV or the news, surfing the internet and social media.

Where can I batch my tasks? Batching similar tasks together allows you to be more efficient. Rather than making phone calls at random, schedule a block of time to return calls or make phone calls. You can also schedule a day for errands and out of office activities.

What activities are not the best use of my time? There are some tasks that simply don’t matter. If something seems trivial, decide if it is necessary and if so, is there someone else who can complete that task for you?

We all have the same 24 hours, but it’s ONLY 24 hours. Time is a precious resource that should be spent on things that are important to us and leave us satisfied. When you make the best use of your time, you focus on the priorities and free up time by letting go of the rest. In business, this means you can focus more time building your business while having time for the things you enjoy the most.

christine_morris_200xChristine has worked her way through the online business world. After starting her business as a virtual assistant and quickly building a multi-VA team, she moved on to become a highly sought-after Online Business Manager and Systems expert, working behind the scenes of several 6- and 7- figure businesses, managing their teams and creating strategies for growth.

Christine’s journey hasn’t been without its share of struggles. In 2014, Christine and her family were victims of a devastating arson fire. The months following this tragedy became a time of reflection. Rather than looking at this loss as a setback, she chose to use the lessons learned through her journey to help even more entrepreneurs create a fabulously balanced life.

Today, Christine uses this experience as a business and productivity coach, helping busy entrepreneurs create a life more in line with both their personal and business goals.