How To Carry Out A Time Audit In 4 Simple Steps

If you don’t know how you spend your time you can’t know if you’re spending it well.

A Time Audit Is…

An in-depth assessment of how you are spending your time.

Doing one will give you the keys to good time management.

Getting Started

If you try to think back to how you spent your time at work last week, you’ll realise how hard it is to remember!

Carrying out an audit will tell you how you currently spend yours.

This is the first step to learning how to improve your time management.

There are three steps to creating a time audit.

Time Audit stock image

1. Gathering The Data

Choose what you think is a relatively typical week.

Get a new pad of paper and a pen, and after you finish each task write down:

  • What it was,
  • When you started
  • When you finished.

That’s it.

Keep doing this for a week, and you have your data.

Some people try to do this using an app or spreadsheet.

In our experience, people often forget to update the spreadsheet or app.

Having the pen and paper on your desk reminds you each time you look away from your screen.

2. Analysing The Data

Before you analyse how you’re spending your time you need to go through your list of tasks and categorise them into:

  • High value
  • Medium value
  • Low value

Once that’s done, it’s time to start analysing.

Create a spreadsheet with your tasks down the left and the days of your audit across the top.

Insert your data, sum it by category (high, medium or low value) and transform the totals into percentages of a working week.

You’re done!

You now know how much time you are spending in each category.

3. Reviewing The Data

Remember to live in the real work when reviewing your data.

Spending anything above 75% on your high-value tasks is extremely good.

And remember that admin is part of life!

Now you can see how you spend your time clearly what you need to do becomes much clearer.

Person going over a spreadsheet

What Now?

The final step is to work out how to increase the time you spend on high-value tasks.

This might involve planning important work for earlier in the day.

Eat that frog suggests you should always do the most important tasks first thing in the day.

Alternatively, can you delegate or ignore low-value tasks as the Eisenhower matrix would suggest?

If not, perhaps you relegate them to a time when your energy is low like Friday afternoon.

Everyone’s solution will be different.

Bonus Efficiency!

When you are taking your audit, you will be more efficient than normal!

If you’re honest when recording your time, the time when you ‘lose focus’ will drastically diminish.

Recording your time will make you more conscious of how you spend it in the moment.

You’re not going to want to admit that the ‘checking supplier details on the web’ task that should have taken 5 minutes either:

– Actually took 25 minutes
– Took 5 minutes but you spent another 20 minutes on social media!

Being forced to be mindful of how you spend your day will more than makeup for the time you spend recording how you spend your time.

You will also probably find that your energy levels rise as well.

Knowing that you are focusing on and progressing toward your key targets is a great form of motivation.

Once you have finished your time audit, a next great step is to start planning your time better.


About Ben Richardson

Ben is a director of Acuity Training which he has been running for over 10 years.

He is a Natural Sciences graduate from the University of Cambridge and a qualified accountant with the ICAEW.

He previously worked as a venture capitalist and banker and so had extensive experience with Excel from building financial models before moving to learn SQL, Microsoft Power BI and other technologies more recently.