stopwatchIn an effort to understand why we're already in mid February of this year that feels like it only just started yesterday, I've been looking over my trusty notebook and thought I might share some things. This getting productive-malarky is quite a change process! Read on...

For the last few weeks, I've been really good with the getting up early and getting things done. I used to sleep in until about 10 a.m., take some time to check online gossip sites, check email, surf the net, check email again, maybe forward a few of those PowerPoint jokes to my friends... and then it was time for lunch. I'd have lunch watching a couple of recorded shows, lounging on the sofa, taking it easy. In the afternoon I'd read for at least 30 minutes in one of the books I had going, and generally came to feel so overwhelmed by all the information out there that I got tired and had to lay down for a nap. When the weather was good I might have even gone for a walk to get my exercise.

In other words, I put off doing productive business owner things until pure inspiration would strike. That doesn't mean I didn't know what I should have been doing, oh no. Of course I had a pretty good idea of how to better spend my time, and that made me feel even more guilty, and then I'd be even more tired, and "tomorrow" became the cop-out mantra. I thought if successful marketing experts tell me to be creative during those hours that I feel inspired, they have a point! Didn't I go into business for myself to set my own itinerary? So what if I sit down and write at 1 am?

And I did, sit down to write at 1 a.m., many nights. With the time difference between Texas, and Germany and Spain, I'd even get some people in the mornings before they were at work and we were able to have some nice chats. However, seeing as my home market, Central USA, works during more traditional hours, this wasn't very effective. So I made a few changes.

First of all, I made it a habit of jotting down what I spend my time on. Journaling definitely played a great part in my last year's weight-loss process, so I already know it was going to work for raising my awareness at the very least. I use a physical journal that has one page per day, one line for each 30 minutes from 7 in the morning until 9 at night.

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If you prefer online planners, go right ahead. Your calendar function will offer alerts to remind you of important events and deadlines, and Excel spreadsheets also work fine. You may also prefer planning ahead and determining which hours you'll use for which tasks before you do them - whatever works best for you.

The point of this exercise for me was to find out where all my time went, and to get an idea of how long stuff takes. For example, I know that I spend about 90 minutes on one blog post.  And yes, I write down "ironing", too, because hey - that's another 90 minutes every Monday afternoon. Now that I know how long some things take, I can better plan for them and I'll have a better idea of what's a reasonable amount of output to expect (i.e. on Mondays I'm very lenient with myself - email, comments, and catch up on RSS feeds only, because Monday = housework day. Ugh.)

I invite you to try keeping track of your time this week, and then come back next week for some actual tips and tricks that I've successfully implemented. Until then, why not ponder about this: How do you help and hinder yourself to make great use of your time? Please share by leaving a comment below. Til next time, have a good one!

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