woman writing a plan in the notebook

This 1-hour Weekly Work Audit Will Skyrocket Your Productivity

WE’RE ALL used to measuring the ROI of our business processes, the number of sales, and the MRR. But when was the last time you measured the results and ROI of your daily work?

Think about it. You attend meetings, work on projects, and collaborate with partners and clients. But how much of this time is really spent productively?

This infographic reveals how much we lose time at work. The top time-wasters at work are email (43.5%), meetings (42.3%), and browsing online (21.8%). There’s no way of avoiding these activities, especially email, but there’s a possibility to spend a lot less time on these, making more time for productive work.

Up next, we’ll introduce you to a 1-hour weekly work audit that will help you to plan your time more efficiently. The same method could be used for a monthly review, and you can do it alone or together as a team.

The 1-hour audit has 3 steps, and it’s important that you follow through each of these.

1. Collecting the data

Without data, there’s nothing to audit. Easy as that.

If you’re using time tracking software or work management software, you’re in luck – you’ve already got all the data you need. If you don’t use a tool to keep track of your time and work, you need to collect this information for a week. Don’t worry, it’s not difficult.

How to collect your 1-week work data:

1. Start planning your days with to-do lists.

The best option we’ve encountered so far is doing it with Notion. Simply create a weekly to-do list and mark tasks “Done” as you go. Do not delete the completed tasks from the list as you’re going to need this information. Don’t forget to include all the meetings.

Here’s an example:

1-hour work audit

2. Start using a time tracking tool

To be able to audit how your time is spent, you need to first track it. The easiest way is to log your time with time tracking software. We use Scoro for that, but here’s a complete list of the tools you could use. If you don’t have time to use a time tracking tool, simply add how much time it took to complete each task on your to-do list.

If you’re new to time tracking, read this guide: 16 Time-tracking Best Practices to Manage Your Time More Efficiently

3. Sign up for RescueTime

RescueTime is a free tool that tracks how you spend your time online. It gives you an extra overview of your time usage without a huge effort on your part. Simply sign up, set it up on your computer, and in 10 minutes time you’ve got it tracking your time. It’s a fascinating tool and you’re going to love the insights.

1-hour work audit

Further reading: 6 Thought Exercises to Immediately Boost Your Brainpower

2. Making sense of your data

Now that you’ve got plenty of data about the tasks you’ve tackled and the time you spent on these, it’s time to structure it for auditing. Follow three simple steps (you can always improve the methodology to adapt to your work specifics)

1. Categorize your tasks

Create five to six categories and organize your tasks under each category. Don’t forget to add the time spent on each task. Add a cell that displays all the time spent on each category.

For example, this is how your work week might look like:

1-hour work audit

Compiling this table takes time. But it’s fine. After all, it’s a 1-hour audit, so you’re allowed to spend 20 minutes on organizing your data.

Read on: 12 Best Browser Extensions for Higher Productivity

2. Check your RescueTime data

Log in to RescueTime and select the weekly view. Don’t be horrified by the time spent on social media and other unproductive stuff. It’s normal. What’s cool is that you can see the most productive days of your week.

1-hour work audit

Read on: How to Apply the Grit Psychology to Your Work

By clicking on the “More details” button, you’ll get a complete overview of how much time you spent on various websites or applications. Can’t believe they’re giving away all this data for free.

1-hour work audit

Read on: The Complete Guide to Winning Project Management Sprints

3. Drawing conclusions

Now that you’ve got all your weekly work data nicely in front of you, it’s time for some serious analysis. Alright, just kidding. We’re going to explore how to make the most of the insights you’ve collected. As a result, you’ll have a better overview of your time usage and will be able to plan it more productively the next week.

The entire auditing process is about finding answers to important questions. With the data you’ve got, it shouldn’t be too difficult to answer these.

Read more: 12 Proven Tips for Effective Meeting Management

1. How much of your time was spent unproductively?

Answering this question is the key to improving your work productivity. Go back to the table where you listed and categorized all your weekly tasks. Next, follow through this thought exercise:

Which activity categories lead to long-term results and personal development? Answering emails is a must-do, but it’s unlikely to return long-term benefits and grow your skills. Team meetings tend to be inefficient at least half the time, so evaluate which ones were really productive and which ones didn’t yield any results.

Go through all your completed tasks, and paint the productive ones blue and unproductive ones red. Up next, calculate the total time spent on productive vs. unproductive meetings.

1-hour work audit

2. How and where was your time wasted?

Make a list of your biggest unproductive time-consumers. Don’t forget to check your RescueTime data, especially the unproductive activities.

For example, here’s how a social media report looks like in RescueTime. 3 h 48 minutes per week? That’s actually pretty good!

1-hour work audit

Compile a list of your TOP 5 unproductive activities this week, and mark how many hours you spent on these.

3. What were the most productive activities and tasks?

Auditing your work isn’t only about finding the unproductive parts. It is equally important to understand what are some good tasks to devote your time to. By using your weekly activities table and RescueTime, check which activities yielded the highest benefits and made you feel productive.

Maybe it was a particular meeting that was conducted in a constructive and effective manner. Or maybe you completed some project tasks with key importance. Think about the way you felt when working on these productive tasks. Was it in the morning, were you drinking coffee, were you distracted?

Read more: 6 Steps to Increase Productivity at Work (and Finish the Day Earlier)

Improving your productivity

After you’ve analyzed your weekly work and understood which activities are productive or inefficient, it’s time to draw some conclusions. As you start to plan for your next week, try to schedule more time for the productive activities and shorten the time spent on tasks with low return on investment, e.g. answering emails or useless meetings.

Don’t cut the emails and meetings, simply look for new ways to make these activities more productive. Here’s a great infographic about 40 productivity tips used by high-achievers to help you get started.

As you make it a habit to review your time and work every week, you’ll learn more about your productivity levels and personal preferences. Every week, you’ll be able to tweak your daily routine even further for higher productivity and more long-term benefits.

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