Are you one of those entrepreneurs who think there’s never enough time in a day to get things done?

Are you an employee who ends up bringing his/her home with you?

There’s more to life than work.

As the saying goes, “You should work to live not live to work”.

If you associate long hours at work with productivity, you may be surprised at how little you’re actually doing.

Case in point: the United States of America, the most powerful economy in the world.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American works 8.8 hours per day.

However, studies show that on average, a typical office worker only puts in 90 minutes of productive time per day.

How was a typical “work” day’s hours broken down?

  • Visiting non-work related websites – 65 minutes
  • Social media – 44 minutes
  • Chatting with co-workers – 40 minutes
  • Searching the job market – 26 minutes
  • Cigarette breaks – 10 minutes
  • Social calls – 18 minutes
  • Coffee time – 17 minutes
  • Texting/ messaging – 14 minutes
  • Snacking – 8 minutes
  • Heating food in the pantry – 7 minutes

Collectively, the average worker spent more time surfing the Internet, checking his/her social media accounts, and chatting with co-workers than doing work-related responsibilities.

90 minutes of productive work on 8.8 hours per day schedule translates to a productivity rating of only 17%. Yet, America remains the seat of global power.

Can you imagine if Americans were more productive?

Keep in mind, whether an employee is searching the Internet or working on a task, these remain paid hours.

If there was a way to increase productive hours, the company would generate higher ROI per employee.

Identifying how you spend your time at work will help you achieve better productivity.

For sure if the employer found out how the employees were spending their time, the company would institute measures to curb non-work related activity.

The question is: Is there a way or perhaps a simple tool that can help you identify how you spend your time at work?

Activity Log: Simple But Effective Way To Track Time Spent At Work

Time management is an integral component to productivity.

If you can find a way to be more efficient with time spent at work, you won’t need 8.8 hours to become productive.

As the study showed, Americans are only productive 17% of the time they spend at work.

90 minutes equates to only one- and- a- half hours. How much can you really get done in that span of time?

If the studies are correct that an average person can only maintain focus for 60 minutes to 120 minutes, then it would be safe to assume that in a 90 minute period, you can only accomplish one task.

One task.

The problem facing many workers and entrepreneurs is that distractions abound in the workplace.

It’s easy for the mind to drift if the task is difficult or complicated. Social media, the water cooler, and the pantry become more enticing options than work.

However, if you can audit the time spent at work, it will give you a clearer picture on how productive you truly are.

Whether you are an employee or an entrepreneur, your productivity should match effort.

An activity log is the best way to know for sure if you are putting in enough time to become productive at the workplace or on your business venture.

How To Make An Activity Log

Is there a special app that you need to download to make an activity log?

No, you only need a spreadsheet program such as MS Excel.

On your spreadsheet, create 7 columns with the following headers:

  • Date
  • Time
  • Activity
  • Work Related (Y/N)
  • Motivation
  • Duration
  • Value

It should look like this:

DateTimeActivityWork Related (Y/N)MotivationDurationValue
       
       
       
       
       

On the activity log, you will indicate all the things you did at work.

This covers both work tasks and non-work related activities. For an activity log to be effective, two conditions are required:

  • Accuracy
  • Honesty

You must be dedicated enough to accurately record all the activities you did on a work day.

Second, you must be honest. Even if the activity makes you feel embarrassed, put it on the Activity Log.

Some people tend to justify doing non-related activity by categorizing them as “inconsequential”.

They think, “So what? It’s only for a few minutes. It won’t affect job performance. No big deal.”

Consequently, an Activity Log will make you realize it’s the accumulation of non-related activity that undermines productivity.

Here’s an example of how an Activity Log would look like with details:

DateTimeActivityWork Related (Y/N)MotivationDurationValue
June 89:00amReview data on property pricesYMeeting with client on June 960 minutesHigh
 10:00amCheck NBA scoresNAnxiety15 minutesMedium
 10:30amVisit FacebookNCheck status30 minutesLow
 11:00amCoffeeNRe-charge30 minutesHigh
 11:30amLunchNOther office mates insisted90 minutesMedium

As you can see from this Activity Log, the person only spent one hour working on a task related to his/ her job.

165 minutes or two hours and 45 minutes were spent on other activities that did not contribute to his/ her productivity.

We’re not sure if the person was productive while reviewing the data on property prices.

Considering that he/ she was feeling some form of “anxiety” over the results of an NBA game, the person could have been distracted. It may also have contributed to the person checking his/ her Facebook page.

If a Workforce Manager sees this data, he/ she would surely be alarmed.

An employee who gets paid $160 per day only puts in $29.99 worth of productivity.

Depending on the actual contribution of total work put in on the company’s bottom-line, ROI per employee may even be smaller.

An Activity Log would be more crucial for an entrepreneur, whose effort must translate to productivity.

You have invested in your business and have everything to gain and lose.

Given the risks involved, the challenge for the entrepreneur is not to fall victim to distractions.

Instead, the challenge is dedicating enough time to tasks that contribute directly to revenues.

For an entrepreneur, an Activity Log should be revised to look like this:

DateTimeActivityCore Function (Y/N)MotivationDurationValue
June 89:00amCheck EmailNFilter inbox60 minutesMedium
 10:30amMeet ClientYGain high value prospect120 minutesHigh
 12:30pmLunchNHunger30 minutesLow
 1:30pmUpdate CRMNUpdate information60 minutesMedium

In this example, it may seem that the real estate entrepreneur is having a productive day.

However, as you can see, five and half hours were spent on administrative tasks such as email filtering, updating the CRM and social media.

These are key tasks in the real estate business but they do not contribute directly to the company’s wallet.

In five and a half hours, the realtor could have gone on client call.

He/she could have scheduled more property viewings or the realtor could have worked on trial closing a few good prospects.

Instead of working on the administrative tasks on his/ her own, the realtor should have hired a Virtual Assistant.

The VA can do a great job managing administrative tasks and just update the realtor on developments and urgent matters.

Conclusion

Your time is what you make of it. If you manage your work schedule efficiently, you wouldn’t have to put in 8.8 hours of work every day.

Assuming you dedicate 90 minutes on a work- related task and just set aside 30 minutes to non-work related activities, you can work for a little over six hours and still accomplish three tasks per day:

DateTimeActivityWork Related (Y/N)MotivationDurationValue
June 89:00amReview Presentation MaterialsYMove prospect to sales funnel90 minutesHigh
 10:30amCoffee BreakNRelax30 minutesLow
 1:00pmMeeting with ProspectYClose Deal90 minutesHigh
 2:30pmUpdate CRMNUpdate information30 minutesMed
 3:00pmAttend Home AuctionYFind Prospective Clients90 minutesHigh

Manage your time wisely by conducting an audit.

Once you have identified how you spend your time at work, you should be more effective in organizing the activities you need to do for your company or business every day.