If you wonder where your time goes, how you don’t get more done each day, or how to fit in everything there is to do, your time management style might be hurting your ability to be productive.

It helps to do a time audit, where you find out what you’re doing at all times for a few days so you can get a really clear grasp on where your time is going.

Usually, how you think you spend your time and how you actually spend your time are very different. I know that can be the case for me.

Here’s a simple way to do a time audit:

Set a timer on your phone for regular intervals. Once each hour is good, at least to start with. You can change it as you go, as long as the timer is going off regularly throughout your day.
When the timer goes off, stop what you’re doing and write it down. Be honest. Also write down what you felt you should have been doing in that moment, if you weren’t doing that. Then, get back to work or whatever you needed to be doing in that moment.
Once you have several days of time audits, take an overall look. Are you doing the important things or getting distracted? Do you notice a pattern that puts you into one of these categories below?

The Social Butterfly

You stop to take a phone call and… oops! It’s 45 minutes later. You need to get a project done, but lunch with a business partner sounds like a better plan. You’re going to get to work, as soon as you sign a kid up for camp, order party supplies, and make a dinner reservation.

Your life is busy – all of it. You embrace the “all things at once” philosophy, but your productivity is suffering as a result.

What to do: Allow yourself time each day for the personal and social stuff. Just set a limit on it and try to do it at the same time every day, such as over your lunch break. One day, that could mean grabbing salads with a friend and another day, it can mean catching up with kids’ stuff while you eat at your desk.

The Under-Estimator

You thought a task would take one hour but after three hours, you’re still plugging away. Then, the next task starts later than expected, and pretty soon, your whole week is off balance.

Under-estimators are often optimists. You want it to only take so long and you hope that will be the case. But it leads to stress and disappointment – including from people counting on you – when you underestimate how long it takes to get things done.

What to do: Continue the time audit until you have a really clear grasp on how long things are actually taking, and then schedule yourself accordingly.

The Procrastinator

You’ll start that big project as soon as you check all your email. And oh, Pottery Barn is having a sale. Better check that out! Got to check email again. Wait, how is it two hours into my work day already and I haven’t gotten a single thing done?

You already know if you’re a procrastinator. The key is setting yourself up for success.

What to do: Minimize distractions (like email notifications) and place external parameters on your time. If you feel accountable to others for getting projects done, it’s more likely to happen.

The Day Dreamer

You find yourself Googling business and non-business related questions throughout the day. You worry about how your finances are looking, instead of actually working on the projects that will increase sales.

We all need to take time out to think and that can make our businesses better. But if you’re trailing off in thought regularly, it’s tough to do the tasks that need to get done.

What to do: Schedule time for yourself to think throughout your day. Five minutes between working on tasks could work wonders for your ability to get more done, without feeling like you can’t stop to think.

Author's Bio: 

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR NEWSLETTER? You can. Just be sure to include this blurb: Tracey Osborne is an expert Project Manager and Virtual Assistant. As CEO of Business Solutions Made Simple, a multi-VA company, Tracey and her team who assist high achieving entrepreneurs in surpassing their goals by managing the behind the scenes operations. By removing the stress of daily operations, Tracey and team allows her clients the focus and freedom to do whatever it is that they do best…thus resulting in heightened profit and growth. Grab her FREE audio, The Busy Entrepreneur’s Secret Weapon at http://www.businesssolutionsmadesimple.com/the-busy-entrepreneurs-secret...