How do you end your typical workday? For most professionals it's a combination of clearing out the last few emails, knocking out final to dos, checking your calendar for the next day, and making a list of what to focus on tomorrow.
We often miss a critical step during this shut down process. An assessment of what just received our most precious asset: time. We don't stop to write down how our time was spent. And by missing that step, we most certainly don't assess whether it was spent in the right way.
End your day differently. Write down at least THREE things that wasted your time and energy. Use this exercise to inform your Not Doing List.
Before you sign off for the day, make a list of what was a poor use of time. This is your "Lost Time Tracker," if you will.
Think through the meetings you sat in, emails sent, IM conversations, and projects you worked on. List out the countless distractions that pulled you away. If you're really serious about it, write down a list of everything that received more than 15 minutes of your time.
Ask yourself this: If you were starting the day over and knew how it would play out, would you still have allocated time to everything you did? Or would you have shifted that time to more valuable things?
Let's put it in a monetary context. If you dropped a few hundred dollars on a nice dinner and the food or service was poor, you'd be angry. We should feel the same way when our time is thrown away too.
This exercise is all about spotting the things that did not move you and your organization closer to your goals. We can't catch every poor use of time in advance, we must always test and learn. The point of this reflection exercise is to recognize patterns. We do this so we don't repeat the same mistakes. We do this so we don't throw our time away again on the same things tomorrow.
Keep your "Lost Time Tracker" open and update it at the end of each day. When you go to make your #NDL on Friday or Sunday for the coming week, review this list and commit to not throw your time away on similar things going forward.
"The art of leadership is saying no, not saying yes.
It is very easy to say yes."
Former Prime Minister of the U.K.