Mastering your minutes: how entrepreneurs can improve productivity through time-tracking

Time Tracking on Paper

Time is a precious, valuable, and finite resource. We all have only twenty-four hours in a day and only seven days in a week to get everything done. And for entrepreneurs, that can often seem like barely enough.

So, why does it seem like some of us can get more done in a day than others? The answer could lie in a few possibilities:

  • Are you doing what’s important or simply what seems to be the most urgent at the moment? 
  • Are you wasting time on tasks that should be delegated, automated, or ignored completely? 
  • Have you ever considered tracking what you spend your time on?

I was curious about how I really used my time, so I tracked my time and activities for one week. I uncovered valuable information regarding inefficiencies in my world and have been able to take steps to eliminate, automate, and delegate better. I encourage you to do the same, and this article should help you get a good start on reclaiming your time and working more productively.


Day 1: Establish the Habit of Time Tracking


  1. Begin your day by setting up a simple time-tracking system.  Whether you prefer digital tools or the classic pen and paper, make a note of every task and its duration.
  2. Be honest about where you’re spending your time. This is a judgment-free zone, and having more accurate information here will only benefit you in the long run.
  3.  Reflect on what’s driving your activities:
    • Are you stuck in an endless loop of emails?
    • Are you using your inbox as a to-do list?
    • Are you wasting time on technology issues?
    • Are you answering the same questions over and over from team members or customers?


Day 2-6: Document Your Activity, Reflect on Your Data, and Adjust Your Habits Accordingly


  • Log your activities throughout each day, including breaks and interruptions.
  • At the end of each day, reflect on the activities you tracked. What surprises you? What patterns emerge?
  • Identify tasks that took longer than expected or seemed unproductive.


Day 7: Analyze Your Data and Strategize Improvements


  1. Compile your week’s data. Look for trends, time wasters, and areas (or times of day) where you were most productive.
  2. Categorize these activities into groups:
    •  Critical tasks – those that only you can do
    • Enjoyable tasks – Those that you really like to do
    • Delegate-able tasks – Things that you could outsource or delegate to your team
    • Automatable tasks – recurring activities that could be completed more efficiently with technology
    • Useless tasks – activities with minimal impact that could be eliminated; you’re only doing them because you’ve always done them, and practice makes permanent


Next steps: Delegate and Automate

  1. Pinpoint tasks that could be delegated to your capable team members, or outsourced to a vendor. Empower your team members, entrust them with responsibilities, and create standard operating procedures on how these tasks should be done to your specifications. Even if it feels like training your team will only make the process take longer, in the long-term, delegating tasks to your team will free up your time for strategic decision-making activities.
  2. Research opportunities to automate repetitive tasks and leverage technology to save time and reduce errors.
  3. Be open to the possibility that certain tasks may not be adding significant value and consider eliminating or outsourcing them to focus on what activities will have the greatest impact on your business.


Starting 2024 off on the right foot

This exercise may seem simple but its impact can be profound. Its purpose goes beyond increasing efficiency – it’s about creating a business that thrives on your unique strengths. 

By gaining insight into how you allocate your time, you’ll be able to identify areas for improvement, empower your team to take on more responsibility, and free up valuable time for more rewarding and impactful activities.

Time is your most valuable asset, and by mastering the art of effective time management, you can unlock doors to unparalleled productivity and success. I look forward to hearing about your time-tracking experience and findings in our next coaching session.


Rhonda Rosand, CPA
CEO, New Business Directions