The First Step to Time Management for Business Success

Business Success Program: Business Success Lesson 1

business woman looking at her watch
Keeping track of your time is the first step to managing it.. Image (c) Brand X Pictures / Getty Images

Welcome to the Business Success program!

The theory behind the Small Business Success course is that a more relaxed, confident you equals increased business (and personal) success.

But people don't become more relaxed and confident overnight, nor do they become more successful without direction. The Business Success course is designed to build business success by providing you with specific success-oriented tasks that allow you to build a repertoire of successful behaviors over time.

Making small behavioral changes consistently over time reaps benefits, and one success builds upon another. So let's get started building success...

Activity tracking is an important first step in goal setting and time management because it sets benchmarks for evaluating your progress. So this first week of the Business Success Program is about tracking your daily activities to establish a benchmark.

Activity Tracking

First, we need to know what you actually do each day. As business people, we all wear many hats during the day (and sometimes at night, too). But what does this mean? What tasks are we actually performing and how much time do we spend on each activity?

Activity tracking lets you see where your valuable time is being spent, and gives you the data you need to set goals and make the changes to your work habits that will make you more successful.

Daily Activity Tracking Tips

Use a device to record your daily activities that is constantly accessible to you, so you can record exactly what you do when you do it.

Memory is fallible - and kind.

A Day-Timer or calendar, an organizer application on your smartphone or computer, a digital recorder, or an ordinary notebook will all work for activity tracking; choose whichever method you are comfortable with and find the easiest to use.

I use a Day-Timer because I like the way it's organized and most of my work takes place in my office.

Whatever device you use for activity tracking, make sure it's easy to review what you've been doing so you can analyze the data you're collecting later.

Don't record unnecessary information; it's the activity and the time you spent on it that's important for our purposes. For instance, my entry related to writing this article would be only "writing Activity Tracking", covering the amount of time it took to write it, not a detailed account of the process I went through to write it or what else was going on around me at the time.

Time Tracking Software

There are a huge number of mobile, desktop, and cloud-based applications available for detailed time tracking, some of which are free. Time tracking software can automatically record your time spent on the use of a particular application (such as Word or Excel), the time spent working on a particular file or document, or time spent on writing and responding to emails. Mobile apps can track time spent on phone calls, text messages, etc.

Detailed time tracking is commonly used by professionals (such as lawyers, accountants, contractors, etc.) who have to record billable time to customers and by employees who have to update time sheets with accurate time spent on various projects.

Time tracking software can use the collected data to create time sheets and generate invoices and reports. Some have integrated expense tracking so that you can, for example, snap photos of receipts with a mobile device and include them with billable time as part of an invoice.

However, time tracking can be useful to any business person who wants an accurate picture of what they spend their time on during a typical business day and wants to improve their personal productivity. And for those have health concerns about the amount of time spent sitting at a desk during the day, there are even time monitor devices available to remind you to stand up and move on a regular basis!

Activity Tracking Related Reading

Time Management: What It Is, Why It Is and How to Use It 

11 Time Management Tips

10 Time Saving Rules to Live By 

A Time Management System That Really Works 

Staying on Schedule Working At Home

Homework Assignment: Tracking Daily Activities

This week, record all your daily activities and the amount of time you spent on each. If you already keep daily records, continue with whatever system you're using, being sure to focus on what you actually do.

Don't distinguish between business and personal activities at this point. You need to have a complete picture of your schedule so you can more easily see where to make the changes that will make you more successful.

Continue on to Business Success Lesson 2

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