Too often business owners overwork themselves to their own detriment and don’t even realize it until it’s too late. Knowing how you spend your day is crucial for efficiency and productivity. In this article we discuss: How to conduct a time study, what a default diary is, and the number one cause of business failure.

Too often business owners overwork themselves to their own detriment and don’t even realize it until it’s too late. Knowing how you spend your day is crucial for efficiency and productivity. In this article we discuss:

  • How to Conduct a Time Study
  • What is a Default Diary
  • The Number One Cause of Business Failure


Do you know how much time you really spend in your business? On average, business owners say they work around 50 hours a week, which is already more than the national average for adults.

But what I’ve found is that not many business owners actually know how much they’re working in their business. Here’s an example:

A business owner says they are working about 50 hours per week. We measured using a super fast time study and found out that he was doing about 70 hrs a week when counting evenings and weekends. He had a young child at home – 3 months old, and his wife was not happy with his hours. He was not happy either, but felt stuck. 

When we examined the time study, and what he was doing with his time, we realized he had never set ground rules with his clients on how much time he would spend on site at projects, and he was allowing clients to monopolize his time, asking questions that could have been answered by his onsite team lead. 

Do you relate to this story? This is the problem that comes when we don’t keep track of our time. Ultimately, we’ll have to make sacrifices when we let work control us. If we don’t do time studies or schedule our day, we are at the will of our business and in that sense we’re not really running our business, are we?

If you want to run your business and stop letting it run you, start by mastering your time. For three reasons why you should keep track of the hours put in your business, watch our recent video. (insert video)

Here are two tools that can help you practice better time management:

Conduct a Time Audit

If you want to get an in-depth picture of how you spend your day, this is a great way to start. This takes the guesswork out of time management and allows you to pinpoint which tasks are taking up the majority of your time.

The first thing you want to do is set your intentions. Make sure you understand why you are doing it and the goal you want to achieve so that you don’t end up blowing it off.

The method is pretty simple. Grab a timer and set it for a specific time (15, 30 or 60 minutes). Each time the alarm goes off, write what you are doing. Then continue working. At the end of the day you should have a list of all the activities you’ve done and how much time you allocated to each of them.

Then you’re going to want to look at your list and determine which tasks were

  1. Not Important/Not Urgent
  2. Urgent/Not Important
  3. Urgent/Important
  4. Not Urgent/Important.

The danger for most people is the Urgent/Not Important category. This is when we are responding to other people’s urgencies, however the activity does not move us toward OUR goal- by definition it is Not Important. Beware of the time and effort devoted to those tasks.

What do you think this will show you? Are you spending a majority of your time on low-importance items or is it being allocated towards the right things?

Default Diary

This can be done before or after you conduct the time audit. We use this in my team as a way to be intentional about how we spend our time throughout the week. It’s very similar to how we would set a daily schedule.

The first thing you want to do is determine your priorities. What tasks need the majority of your attention. Referring to the list above, what things are Urgent/Important? Then determine how much time per week you want to spend on each task. Be strategic about it. What tasks will require you to work on every day and what tasks can be completed in one day. Don’t forget to allocate time to working ON the business – these are often not urgent but important tasks.

Here’s an example of a default diary.

For the default diary to work you must make it a priority. If you create your default diary but then still allow yourself to be pulled away with everything that comes up, it won’t work. This is why it’s also a good idea to have office hours in your default diary so you can address tasks that your team needs help with. Those things should only be addressed at that time, unless it’s an emergency, and make your team aware of those times.

The #1 Cause of Business Failure is Burnout

So don’t overwork yourself. In the long run, you are only hurting yourself and your business. Be strategic with your time so that you make time for what’s important, not only in your business, but for your health and your family.

If you want to know more about the tips I’ve shared above or want to know more about what things you should be focusing your time on, talk to a professional. Our certified business coaches can walk you through these things and help relieve some of the stress you’ve been holding. The first meeting is on us!