My Time Audit

 September 30, 2020

By  Uriah Guilford, MFT

minute read

Hi, this is Uriah from Productive Therapist, and this is a short episode on my Time Audit.

Have you ever done this? A time audit is a very simple but useful thing to do where you essentially track all of your time over the course of a day or a week or longer just to see what you’re actually doing with your time.

It’s kind of like a budget for your money.

It’s, you know, taking a look at your time in a similar sense. I decided to do this because I honestly had no idea how many hours I was working in a given week or a given day on running two businesses, which is Productive Therapist, obviously, and Guilford Family Counseling.

So I decided to do it, actually, a two week time audit after coming back from vacation where I basically did zero work.

And then I just kind of wanted to get some insight into what was really going on. And so I set a couple of goals for myself. I was only going to track my work time and didn’t feel the necessity to track my downtime or other things.

I really only have a problem with overworking, not over leisure. So that is the way I went about it. And I decided that I wanted to try to work 30 hours or less, and I didn’t want to go over six hours in a day. That was those are just my personal goals.

Obviously, that doesn’t work for everybody. Some people love to work, you know, 10 hours on one day and then nothing on the next day. So you can kind of design that however you want.

But what I wanted to do was be more intentional. And I had just honestly finished rereading the Four Hour Workweek. And so that gave me some ideas and some motivation to work on this, as well as the book Time Off, which I highly recommend. I’ll put those links in the show notes.

So there’s a couple of different things that I learned.

#1 (well, this is actually not on my list) but I will tell you that doing a time audit is kind of a hassle.

It’s not easy.

And if you don’t stick to it and actually record the time that you work or the time that you do other things, it’s not very useful. So I did my best to make it as accurate as possible.

And I actually used the app that we use for our virtual assistants to track time for our clients. And it’s called Harvest. Really great app. Works good on the phone, on the computer, and it kind of goes with you wherever you go.

So here are a couple of things that I learned.

#1 is really no surprise: I will work too much if I let myself.

And this is what Tim Ferriss in the Four Hour Workweek calls WFWS, I think that’s what it is, work for work’s sake, which we all can do.

And Parkinson’s Law says that essentially the task will expand to the time you give it, which we all learned from school when we had a project that was due or a paper that was due in two weeks or in a month. And most of us take that entire time and then finish it towards the end.

So I will work too much if I let myself. I need boundaries, and I need limits for myself.

#2: it actually feels really good to have more balance and to have times when I’m very focused and then times where I’m not working at all.

So on times, off times.

And then I think there’s a place for sort of flex times where you are maybe doing some work, but you can be interrupted, hang out with your kids, go for a walk, kind of do what you want to do. I like that.

But I realized that essentially work was permeating every area of my life from my bedroom to my garage to my kitchen table to my office, obviously.

And with working from home even more than usual, it was just kind of following me everywhere, and being able to work on my phone wherever I am is something I’m trying to not do, or do less of. 🙂

So that’s important. Number two, it feels good to have more balance.

Lastly, #3: it’s really possible to make more money while working less.

And one of the decisions we made just recently for Productive Therapist is to pause hiring and actually pause taking on new clients.

And one of the things that happened there was that we were able to focus more in on our processes and our systems, improving those and obviously focused more in on providing even better customer service to our current clients.

And it also decreased the sort of work that comes along with growth and adding.

And maybe if you’re listening to this, you might be growing a group practice and adding therapists and constantly moving, growing, expanding. And that’s fun and exciting. I love it personally, but it’s been really nice to just stop, consolidate, and not worry about doing so many new things or growing the things we’re already doing. So, making more money while working less as possible.

Obviously, some factor has to change there. Maybe it’s raising your fee. Maybe it’s hiring therapists to work in your practice. Maybe starting a second business that’s more sort of passive income, some online courses, any number of things.

But the goal for me is not to work more. I do want to make more money, but I don’t want to spend 40, 50, 60, or more hours a week. And that’s just not a trade-off that I want in my life right now.

So those are the three lessons:

  1. I will work too much if I let myself.
  2. It feels good to have balance even though I love work.
  3. Making more money while working less is possible.

So those are some of the basic results or the sort of things I learned from my time. I hope this was helpful for you. I definitely recommend doing a time audit to kind of see where you’re at and then intentionally decide how you want to spend your time working, playing, and relaxing.

Have a great day!

Uriah Guilford, MFT

Uriah is a group practice owner and the creator of Productive Therapist. He is a technology nerd, a minimalist travel packer, a rock drummer and business development enthusiast.

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