Did you ever pay attention to how much time it actually took to do your school work in University?
I sure didn’t.
I have no idea how long it takes to research, write, edit and complete a good great paper. I can guess, but truly don’t know the number of hours, especially for each part of the process.
Since entering the working world, I’ve learned how to track my time. Not simply by choice, but because both of my jobs since leaving University have involved client services. And with client services comes time sheets. My time is billed to each client, and therefore my time must be accounted for.
The first time I did an estimate for a client, my estimated cost (which looked huge to me) was actually a fraction of what was a) necessary to complete the work that was requested, and b) representative of the actual number of hours that it would take to do the work. (And my version was most certainly not the final version of the budget – ha ha!)
If I went back to school tomorrow, I would probably pay more attention to how to track my time. Simply because as tedious as it is, it really helps to be cognisant of how much time it takes to do each step of the process.
If you’ve never tracked your time before, open an excel spreadsheet and record your time in hour blocks. Do this for a few days, and then start breaking things down into smaller chunks of 30 minutes and then 15 minutes. You’ll start to notice that things like phone calls or emails will eat much more time than you think. On a side note, check out Tim Ferris’s “The 4-hour Work Week” for some great tips on time management. If you track time over a month or two, you’ll quickly see the amount of time it takes to complete a project / paper / large-scale activity. Surprising, right?
I’ve grown to love knowing where my time goes each day, and understanding the constraints of getting something done, and done well, in the time allotted. It’s a skill I’m happy to have learned early in my career.