Does time seem to slip by each day and you end up feeling that you didn’t achieve what you wanted to achieve? One way to attack this problem is to keep track of your time using a simple time diary.

Here is how it works.

Over the course of a few days write down how you spent your time in a pocket note pad or using the Notes app on your smartphone. Use a shorthand like “e-mails: 10:00 am, 45 minutes“ or “Unscheduled visitor conversation: 2:15 pm, 55 minutes,“ and so on.

At the end of each day use highlight pens to categorize your time:

YELLOW = expenditures of time that were non-essential

BLUE = expenditures of time that could or should have been shortened or tightened

GREEN = expenditures of time that supported your work goals and objectives

Take a few minutes to assess your use of time.  Answer the following questions:

  • How did you feel about the day? Productive? Non-productive?
  • What can I eliminate? Shorten? Or tighten?
  • Do I spend too much time on non-essential tasks?
  • Is my work focused on my priorities and goals?
  • What tasks during the day frustrated me the most?


After a few days tracking your time, identify one or two things that you are going to change to make your use of time more effective and goal focused.