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Time management: Time auditing

Time auditing

How you think you use your time, and how you actually use your time may be too very different things. When you are diligent about your schedule, seeing to your commitments and keeping projects on track, but you always seems to fall behind, a Time Audit may be helpful.

A Time Audit is a process by which you record how you spend your time. Then you use that information to create a budget, not unlike your financial budget. The information captured during a Time Audit will indicate how long regular tasks actually take, how much time is spent in the diversionary pursuits and interruptions, and how much unencumbered time you can realistically expect to devote to extra tasks.

How to perform a Time Audit

1. Choose a regular week (no vacations / conferences  /etc.)

2. Record how you spend your time, using 15 or 30 minute increments. Note interruptions.

3. At the completion of the Audit, tally up how much time was spent on tasks or categories (email, Big Ticket items, individual projects, diversion)

4. Determine your regular tasks (payroll / scheduling / collection management) and, using the information captured during the audit, estimate how much time each committment requires on a daily / weekly / monthly basis.

5. From your allotted work time (40 hours?) subtract the time required to complete your regular committments. The time left over is how much time you can reasonable expect to spend on other tasks - additional projects, meetings, etc.

Time Audit worksheets in use

View these PDFs to see how a Time Audit sheet can be used.

The "Pre Audit" sheet is a demonstration of how one might fill in the form to indicate how time was used. Time blocks are outlined to indicate tasks performed. Interruptions are noted with time spent and with whom.

The "Post Audit" sheet is a flexible framework of how this fictional person might allot their time based on the budget created using the Pre Audit sheet.

Time Audit worksheet