For the past decade, I have tried countless ways to manage my time. From paper lists on a Franklin Planner to time management apps on my phone. I’m spent years categorizing A (have to be done) to C tasks (nice to be done) and been disappointed at the number of times I have carried over tasks from day-to-day.
Furthermore, these days I have staff that updates my calendar with tasks, client visits and development times, so the time management of this small business owner has gone from bad to worse. With two years of data in my Google Calendar, I decided it was time to analyze the data and come up with a more efficient rating system for my time (my life). Thus the creation of the time system you see below.
The Time Management Problem to Solve
After studying my pattern of doing tasks I had come to two conclusions that I need help in.
1. I don’t finish about 30% of what’s on my daily “To Do List,” and
2. I am a terrible judge of how long a particular task or meeting will take.
I needed a rating system that would force me to get better at BOTH of those problems. If I had a success percentage that told me I got 7 out of 10 things done today so I scored 70%, it wouldn’t answer the question as to why nor penalize me for one task takes 3 times longer than predicted.
What is a Perfectly Planned Day?
So I have decided that a perfectly planned day (1) would not have too many tasks planned and the tasks themselves, (2) would stay in the plan allotted time. Furthermore, for continuous improvement, a single percentage scale would rate the day.
After several months of fiddling and testing I have reached a perfect formula that incentives completion and well as timeliness of the tasks at hand. I call it the Efficiency Percentage.
The Daily Efficiency Percentage
Daily Efficiency Percentage = (Number of Items on List Completed / Number of Items on the List) – (Total Number of Hours Assigned to Non-Completed Items / Total Number of Hours in the Day)
Example 1: A Perfectly Planned Day
Suppose you are planning tasks for a 10 hour day from 8a – 6p (one of those tasks is a one hour lunch). And to keep the concept simple, let’s say all 10 of those tasks are exactly 1 hour long and you accomplish and complete all 10 of them in the 10 hours provided. A perfect day! Here is how the math would work out.
Daily Efficiency Percentage = 100%
(10 Completed / 10 On the List) – (0 Hours Assigned of Tasks Not Done / 10 Hour Total to Complete the Day)
Example 2: 1 Hour Extra Long Lunch, 1 Hour Interruption
So the above is a perfect day and that’s the goal, but that isn’t real, at least not in my world. So look at the same day from which I took a two-hour lunch and had a 3p 1 hour interruption…
Assuming I leave work at 6p and I don’t get Tasks 9 and 10 done, my efficiency rating would go like this…
Daily Efficiency Percentage = 63.3%
(8 Tasks Completed / 10 On the List) – (2 Hours of Assigned Task Time / 12 Hours Total to Complete the Day)
So do you see the double penalty? I get penalized for not completing and for not judging the time taken for lunch or interruptions. The reason for the double penalty is I could actually have made it up by working faster or staying longer. Let’s say I stayed one hour longer and finished Task 9. Then the formula would be this…
Daily Efficiency Rating = 81.7%
(9 Tasks Completed / 10 On the List) – (1 Hour of Assigned Task Time / 12 Hours Total to Complete the Day)
What I Have Learned By Using this Method for a Month
As you can see from the two examples above, there are two ways to greatly improve your rating…
1) Don’t plan tasks so close together. Add spaces for interruptions and unplanned events.
2) Over plan the amount of time necessary for a task.
Now this process may seem crazy to you, but it has greatly improved how I use my time, and how I plan my tasks. Less and less task push until the next day and more importantly, I have gotten much better about managing interruptions and just plain saying “No.”
What do you think of this idea? What process do you use to improve your daily efficiency percentage?