To improve productivity, we simply focus on increasing value-add activities and eliminating non value-add activities.
Very simple in theory; however, a bit more challenging in practice.
If you’ve ever felt like you want to become more productive but you’re not sure where to start, then the first step is to get some visibility into how you are spending your day.
For the past week I have been carrying a ‘Time Journal’ with me. I make note of all of my daily activities and the outcome of each activity.
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The Time Journal has several benefits.
It provides us with visibility into what we are doing ~ it brings the unconscious to the conscious.
Often, we spend our days going ‘full out’ and then having a hard time recollecting what we accomplished during the day.
This is because so much of our time is spent on auto-pilot, reacting to our circumstances, that we aren’t even aware of what we are doing, let alone why we are doing it.
It is with increased awareness that we are able to be more mindful in the present moment. It can even help us to focus on the task at hand.
It’s like an invisible accountability partner (yourself!) to remind you that you will be looking at this activity and the outcomes of it in the future.
The Time Journal is also helpful for future planning.
If you are like me, you might have a habit of underestimating the amount of time that an activity will take. Once you have a better idea of how much time a routine activity takes through the Time Journal, you can better plan your time around that activity.
In the beginning, I recommend over-estimating the amount of time something will take.
We still work towards completing the activity as fast and focused as possible; however, the buffer will provide your ‘inner planner’ with a confidence boost when the task is completed in, or before, the time you have allotted yourself.
Identify Value-Add Time
Once you have enough days in your journal to give you a good sense of how you typically spend your time, review and identify which activities are “Value-Add” (VA) activities and which ones are “Non Value-Add” (NVA) activities.
The key to differentiating between the two is to assess the outcome of each activity. If the outcome helps you progress towards the achievement of your goal, then generally we label that as a VA activity.
At the beginning stages, we are most interested in identifying one or two big NVA activities. Eliminating these NVA activities will create the capacity in your schedule to allow you to focus on becoming more intentional with your time.
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