Ever feel like you don’t have enough time to do the things you need to do? Want to learn some time management tips and figure out how to get control of your time to work on your blog and be more productive? Keep reading to see how you can potentially save hours of time working on your food blog by conducting a time tracking experiment.
I feel like time management is a struggle for food bloggers particularly, as there is this constant hustle to create more content and to generally do more, which causes us to be less efficient with our time. So whether you are a really structured person or you really like to keep your schedule loose, today we’re going to talk about one way that you can really save a ton of time and also gain incredible insights into where you might be losing time.
Save Time with Time Tracking
Time tracking really is just being able to track your time over a period of a few days or a few weeks. Think of it as just a way for you to capture what is happening on a day-to-day basis as you are working on your business. I think if you are someone who feels like you don’t have enough time, which let’s be honest, that’s most of us, this can be a really great way to figure out where you’re losing time.
Time tracking is something I really love to do when I feel overwhelmed with how much I have going on or I feel like I’m just not making the most of my time. It’s a great way to bring me back to center so that I can really focus and make sure that I’m using my time wisely.
With time tracking, what you want to do is pick an amount of time that you’re going to work for, and then pick what you are going to work on. Really what you’re trying to do is just get a realistic picture of where your time is going. It’s easy to kind of guesstimate how long things might be taking you or what you might have been working on, but when you diligently focus on tracking your time, you will have a much clearer picture of what is going on.
How Long Should You Time Track For?
This is really going to depend on a lot of different things: mainly it’s going to depend on how often you are working on your blog. If you work on your blog every single day in some capacity, then you might be able to get through this in just a few days. But if you only work on your blog a couple of times a week or a couple of times a month, then you may decide to do this longer, so you can get a good picture of what it is you’re spending your time on.
Now for a lot of you, you might not have this really clear-cut picture of when you clock in and clock out from working on your business. You may have things that you do while you’re with your kids, or on the weekends maybe you’re testing recipes or things like that. It’s important to pick a method of tracking that’s going to work for all those different scenarios. You might find that it’s easier for you to just track all your time for a few days, not just business time versus personal, if you are someone who feels the lines blur between business and personal very often.
You need to pick how long you’re going to do this experiment for. In general, I would say you probably want to have this time tracking done for two to three days, maybe up to five days that you are working on your business. This just depends on how much data you want and how realistic it is that you can be consistent and accurate with tracking this for a few days at a time. If you are not someone who is going to be able to stick to that very well, then I would do a shorter amount of time, but remember that there’s going to be some leeway as you look at your results.
Be very specific when you write things down and be super honest about what it is you’re actually doing. Let’s say you go on Instagram and you’re going to post something, and you end up scrolling for 20 minutes. It’s truly important for you to put both of those things down, because posting something on Instagram versus just scrolling are two different things and we want to make sure that we know that difference.
It’s going to be difficult for you to track if you are constantly switching tabs or tasks and so this is a great opportunity to practice focusing on the one task that you’re doing, so that it’s easier for you to track. But if you do happen to jump around a little bit, make sure that you write down how you jumped around and what you were working on.
How to Analyze the Results
Once you have a couple of days’ worth of data, or you have enough where you feel like you can start to analyze it, first categorize what it is that you were spending your time on. For you as a food blogger, some of your time categories might be things like social media, recipe development, photography, writing, creating videos, SEO, admin tasks like email and things like that. You could also have a category for networking with brands and other types of business development type of tasks and then finally CEO time, meaning things that are more for the big picture, those higher-level business tasks that you’re doing. Feel free to create ones that are outside of those I mentioned.
After you categorize all those results, you’re going to look at how much time are you really spending in each of these categories. Am I spending more than 50% of my time doing things like admin work? Or am I spending 50% of my time creating content for social media? Which categories seem like you’re spending way too much time on them?
You really want to get clear on those time wasters, those items that seem like they’re taking you longer than they should to complete or those that are not a great use of your time. Because these are the things that you will start to think about delegating to others or eliminating all together. I know this is difficult because there’s so many things that you feel like you should do as a food blogger, but at the stage that you are at in your business, you know what’s working and what’s not. It’s one thing to be trying something new in your business and not knowing if that has a good ROI for you. Let’s say for example you’ve had a Facebook account for years and years, and you’ve never gotten any traffic from it, or you’ve gotten less than 1% of your traffic from it, then it’s time to start thinking about whether this is a good use of your time.
As you’re looking at the different categories and how much time you are spending on those, just start thinking about the areas in which you could delegate to someone else on your team. If you don’t have team members, that’s okay too! This is a really great way for you to kind of know who that next hire is. Then another area of reflection is to see if there is anything that you wished you had more time for. Maybe you’re looking at it and seeing that your CEO time is like five minutes a week, or maybe it’s an hour or two a week, but you wish you had more time for really thinking about that next level and next step for your business. Whatever it is that you feel like is missing from these time logs, now that you know where your time is going, you can start to make changes to what it is that you’re spending time on.
Tools for Time Tracking
My favorite tool for time tracking is called Toggl. The reason I like Toggl so much is I can set up projects for all those different categories I listed, and I can just select that project for that time entry. Then I can run a simple report that will show me an actual breakdown of the percentages of time. So, if I had 15 hours of work for the week, it would show me that 20% of my time was spent on this type of task, 25% was on this et cetera. This is a great tool just to have right on your browser, but when you’re away from your computer, maybe you have just pen and paper, or you can write it down on the Notes app on your phone, and then you bring it back into Toggl.
I’ve had friends in the past tell me that they like to do time-tracking by every time they go get another cup of coffee or a glass of water. They’ll just kind of reflect on what they did for the last two hours, and they’ll write it down. Really just lean into whatever fits your natural style and go for it.
But I think for a lot of you, the first time that you do this, it will probably just be more of a surprise where your time is going. I will say that for friends of mine who are also past clients who have done this type of exercise, they have really gotten clear on where they want their time to be spent. As a result, they’ve invested in other people to help them with different things on their business and they have seen such a huge return on investment from having more support on their team.
Whatever it is that you’re finding from these results, I hope that you will just take some time to reflect on them and really plan how you’re going to use this information to manage your time better and to be able to feel like you’re spending your time where you want to be spending it.
So, your action step from today is to pick how long you’re going to do your time tracking experiment for. Figure out how you’re going to do it, whether that’s going to be pen and paper or using a tool like Toggl, and then just start doing it. I would love to hear your takeaways from this episode, so go over to Instagram and connect with me there over @graceandvine. You can also always send us an email if that’s the best way for you to connect with us.