How to do a simple productivity audit

How to do a simple productivity audit

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

Table of Contents

Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

There is often a great discrepancy between the way you spend your time and the way you think you spend your time. A time audit helps you look at exactly how your time is being used so you can better understand where your time is going. One form of a time audit is to simply keep a log of your time. This works to a certain extent, but it tends to better show how you want to spend your time instead of how your time is actually spent. For a time audit to be effective, it needs to reflect your actual work history.

Here is a simple method for doing a time audit that will help show how your time is actually spent. Get some type of timer that can be set for a specific interval of time. You want to use 60, 30 or 15 minutes. Normally an hour is what you want to use. Set the timer to go off, but make sure you start at some odd time, like 8:11. You don’t want to start at the top or bottom of the hour because that tends to go off right when you are switching contexts (going to lunch, headed to a meeting, etc.)

Each time the alarm goes off, write down what you are doing at that moment, reset the alarm, and go back to work. The process should take about 20 seconds. It will interrupt you, but the data should be well worth the inconvenience. Ideally, you should collect time audit data from several different days. It might make sense to do the time audit Monday on one week, Wednesday of the following week, and Thursday of the next. Spreading it out helps keep it from becoming a habit and lessens the distraction impact of any given week.

Once you have all the data from your time audit, go through and analyze it. You can use any method that suits your needs, but in general you want to categorize what you were doing at each interruption point by how important that task was. At the very least, you should use three levels:

  1. Very important – the type of task that you should be doing all the time.
  2. Not particularly important – something that may need done, but doesn’t add significant value and should be minimized as much as possible.
  3. Worthless – Activities that you shouldn’t be doing at all.

If 75% of your time audit shows you working on Very Important tasks, you are doing extremely well. Many people will find that they are spending a lot of time on levels 2 and 3. Don’t be too discouraged by this. It is typical and partly a by-product of the fact that work days aren’t designed around being productive.

Once your time audit shows how you are spending your time, you need to ask yourself important questions:

  1. Can you modify the order of tasks or your schedule to make better use of your time? For example, if you found you were on hold for a good percentage of the time, can you place those phone calls earlier or later or on a different day when you are less likely to be put on hold?
  2. Are there distractions you can avoid? If you have a TV in your office and your time audit shows you are often watching the news, maybe you should turn it off or move it out of your office. Some people will save a lot of time by uninstalling solitaire.
  3. Can you stop low-value activities? Ask yourself, “What happens if I just don’t do this at all?” Sometimes the consequences are trivial once we actually look at what will happen.
  4. Can you shift to more high-value activities? This may mean delegating or automating. If you spend a lot of time running papers back and forth for signatures or faxing secure documents, perhaps getting your team to switch to Digital Signatures & Encryption would help let you focus more on your job and less on the tasks that add little value. You might be able to make use of a virtual assistant to help you focus on the more important things.

If you are a manager, you might be thinking “I should have my staff do this!” Maybe, but keep in mind the time audit is only useful if people are honest. You will probably get better results if you have them do a time audit and then discuss ways you can be more efficient as a team instead of trying to get each person to share their individual results.

Reader Interactions

Comments

Thanks for the post. I may try this method out. It makes me think of what one of resident advisors in prep school told me once. He said you have to “Distract the Distractions.” My principal offense to this methodology was my habit of leaving my door wide open during study time. The result of this practice was that every time someone walked past my door I would look up from my desk taking my attention away from my work. Heeding the data at the top of the page that would mean every time someone walked past my room I was giving them 15 minutes of my day.
The very simple solution to this problem was to leave the door only slightly open (we weren’t allowed to close our doors during study time.) That way people could walk by to their hearts content and they weren’t going to affect my attention.
The fact is I’m probably not going to be able to avoid all of the 2-second distractions. But if I can “distract” some of them, I am already ahead of the game.

I use Wakoopa to know how I spend my time at the computer. Very effective.

One lecturer who spoke of giving a similar test to his leadership class. He instructed them to write down every 10 minutes what they had been doing, and do so for two weeks. They then had to swap logs with each other, and provide some constructive feedback for the next two weeks.

In this class on Time Management he gives a lot of practical advice on how to really use time, and get things done. He applies it to a verse of the bible which talks about gathering up all the small pieces of time that are wasted:
http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=21409949160

We’re starting to think more about task types and time usage too. One of the other themes seems to be how ‘hard’ a task is, or how much effort it requires. Often things we think of as ‘hard’ are actually quick tasks, while some seemingly simple and easy ones take almost forever! Having a way to learn which is which is a great productivity win!

Nice idea. I may have to try that out, although – I don’t think I’d look forward to the results. >.<

Though we all do our best to maximize our time, occasionally, we find ourselves wishing for more hours in the day in order to increase our productivity at work and at home. And while there’s no shortage of apps and software available to help you boost productivity, you may want to consider another solution: The time audit.

Read on to learn the ins and outs of conducting your own time audit and what to do with your findings.

What is the time audit?

A time audit is meant to help you see how you’re actually spending your time. By tracking your activities throughout the day for three, five, or seven days, you can see what consumes the bulk of your time, as well as identify opportunities for increased efficiency and impact.

How to get started

  • Create a table—either longhand on paper or in your preferred spreadsheet software—prior to kicking off your time audit. You should plan to begin your audit when you know you’ll have a consistent number of days that are typical of your schedule (not during holidays or other special occasions when your schedule may be more or less relaxed than usual).
  • The number of columns on your table will depend on how many days you want to include in your audit. It’s most effective to do this exercise for five to seven days, but you can do it for as few as three days. Label each column with the relevant weekday.
  • Label each row with time stamps at thirty-minute intervals, starting with the time you wake up and ending with the time you go to bed.
  • On the first day of your audit, jot down what you’re doing every thirty minutes. It may help to set an alarm on your phone for every half hour so you remember to enter your updates.
  • You don’t need to write a lengthy description for each item. For instance, if you’re checking your inbox, jot down “email,” or if you’re working on a project, write down the name of the project. Don’t concern yourself with the details; just take note of what it is.

Where’s your time going?

After you’ve completed your audit, dig deeper into exactly how your time was spent.

Review your table and circle or highlight the three activities that occur the most each day, then in a different color, circle or highlight activities that occur every day.

In analyzing where your time is going, you’ll see two categories emerge:

  • Activities you engage in multiple times per day that are “time-suckers.” These are activities like checking your inbox or browsing the internet.
  • High-priority activities you engage in throughout the week that take up a substantial portion of your time. These are activities like research or work-related projects.

Turning your findings into opportunities

With this new illustration of your time, try reallocating or consolidating tasks and activities to improve your productivity.

  • Rather than engaging in your “time-suck” activities multiple times a day, ask yourself if you can consolidate this activity into one or two designated times per day. For example, if your time audit reveals that you’re checking your inbox several times throughout the day, you could settle on two specific times when you’ll tackle your email. This will free up precious time that can be allocated to something else.
  • For high-priority activities that take up a lot of your time, it may be more productive to designate specific times to work on them and to also break down these activities into smaller steps. For example, if you’re spending hours on a project, schedule a regular time throughout the week when you’ll work on that project. Then, break it down into clear steps so that you know what you will work on during each designated time slot.
  • Finding new opportunities for efficiency doesn’t apply only to your work life; it’s helpful at home, too. If you find that you’re waiting on long lines at the grocery store several nights a week, try to pick one or two days per week when you’ll pick up groceries, freeing up your other evenings to spend more time with loved ones instead.

Committing to change

Once you know exactly where your time is going, the next step (and perhaps the hardest) is committing to the changes you’d like to make. Be careful not to overwhelm yourself by committing to too many changes at once; select just one to start, and track your progress in implementing that change over the next month or two.

You may also find it useful to do your time audit with an accountability partner—a family member, friend, or colleague—so that you can discuss your findings and progress. And to make sure you’re on the right track, do another time audit one or two months down the road to see if your improvements are sticking.

Just remember, the time audit isn’t about cramming more into your days. It’s about doing less of what isn’t helping you and doing more of what adds value to your life.

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In response to a question posted here recently, I started thinking about how to implement an audit log which would allow the user to log inserts, edits, and deletions from tables within Access. Prior to the advent of Data Macros, this process had to be done via code, and had some pitfalls, as documented by the Access MVP Allen Browne on his website. But in the code on Allen’s website, he writes an entire record to his audit table every time even a single field was changed; this means that you need a separate audit log table for each table you need to audit.

My goal was to create a relatively simple process which would meet the needs of the vast majority of people and which could be implemented quite simply. To do this, I came up with a single audit log table which contains the following fields.

The fields in this log table are defined as:

  • TableName: (text, 50) This allows you to write inserts, edits or deletes for any table to the same log file
  • Action: (text, 10) Insert, Edit, or Delete
  • ActionBy: (text, 30) the Windows UserID of the person making the edits
  • ActionDT: date/time, defaults to Now()
  • RecordID: this field is used to store the PK value of the record being inserted, edited, or deleted. This requires that each table being audited contain a single, long integer (autonumber) field which is the PK for the table.
  • FieldName: (text, 50) Name of the field that is inserted, edited, or deleted. During an Insert or Delete operation, every field but the PK field is written as a separate record into the Audit Log. During an Edit operation, only the fields whose Value and OldValues differ are written to the log.
  • FieldValue: (text, 255) I elected to use a text field of length (255) to store all of the field values rather than have a separate field for each potential datatype. This will accomodate the vast majority of fields in a database (except attachment, multi-value, and long binary (OLE)).

In order to implement this Audit log, you only need to add a couple of lines of code to the form(s) used to edit your tables and you will be on your way. When inserting or editing a record on your form, you would use the Form_BeforeUpdate and Form_AfterUpdate events, when deleting a record, you would need to add code to the Form_Delete and Form_AfterDeleteConfirm events.

As Allen Browne highlighted on his site, you cannot simply write the records to your audit log in the BeforeUpdate and Delete events because each of these actions can be cancelled by the user after the data is written to the log. To resolve this I first write the information to tbl_Audit_Log_Temp, and then in the AfterUpdate and AfterDeleteConfirm events, if the Update or Delete operations were not cancelled, I copy the data from tbl_Audit_Log_Temp to tbl_Audit_Log and then delete the data from the temporary table.

The only line you will need to add to your Form_BeforeUpdate event is highlighted in the code segment below. This should be the last line of code in the event procedure and should only be executed if all of the error checks and field validation checks have passed.

To log record deletions, you need only add a single line of code to the Form_Delete event, as indicated below.

Then, to ensure that edits or deletion operations are actually logged, you need to call the AuditLogConfirm function with the following code. The value of the Status argument in the AfterDelConfirm event will be either 0 (deletion confirmed) or 2 (deletion cancelled), so I wrote this procedure to accept a zero as the Confirmed value.

The real guts of this process is the AuditLog subroutine, which requires parameters for the name of the table being edited, the action being performed (Insert, Edit, Delete), and the name of the Primary Key (PK) field used in the table being audited (the pimary key must be a single, numeric value, preferably an autonumber).

The code initially opens the Audit Log Temp table, and then loops through the list of fields bound to the form via the forms RecordSource property. The code determines which fields to write to the audit log (If the action is an Insert or Delete operation all fields get logged; if it is an Edit operation only those fields whose values have changed during the current operation are written to the log) and writes those values, along with the table name, ActionBy, ActionDT, and RecordID values.

The AuditLogConfirm procedure simply copies the records from the temporary table to the permanent Audit Log, if the value passed into the procedure is a zero (0). Otherwise, it skips that section of code and deletes the records in the temporary table.

What I think is neat about this method of storing the data is that we can now write queries against the audit log to view the changes we have made to each record over time. You can do this with the method Allen uses as well, but it is much more difficult to determine what values have changed. With this method, and the use of a cross-tab query, only the values that have changed are displayed on each row, and the value displayed is the new value. The sample database contains several records with a series of field changes. You can see those changes in the results of qry_Audit_Log_XTAB:

Big, bold, NOTE : This technique will not work if you are running a DELETE, INSERT, or UPDATE query. In order to implement a procedure similar to this in a query, I believe you would have to develop this functionality in a data macro, would have to check for each field in the table independently (no looping through field names) and have rows in the data macro for each of the fields being written to the table. This would be a lot of work.

How to do a simple productivity audit

Monitoring and measuring employee productivity is a challenging task for managers. Independent business researchers remind us of countless business hours which just flow away aimlessly every year, being wasted by employees on counter-productive not work-related purposes (including social networking, surfing Internet pages on personal basis, electronic entertainment, etc).

Employee Productivity is amount of outputs (usually regulated by requirements and quality) which can be produced by employee per period of time, utilizing the given resources. The more stable and elaborated the process of production (the less X-factors or varying inputs it involves), the smoother level of productivity is expected from employees operating it.

The problem of poor utilization of business time is rooted in several things:

  • poor work planning;
  • poor work organization;
  • poor employee discipline;
  • poor productivity monitoring;

Of course, each of these four issues (forming up a complex problem) deserves a particular attention, investigation, and rectifying. Let�s consider matters making up a concept of employee productivity monitoring:

  • Measuring: There is a popular saying: ” you cannot manage what you cannot measure� meaning that you need to employ clear and right metrics and standards on what you are trying to control, so you get enabled to objectively qualify employee-produced results as proper or improper ones. Correct measuring respects variability of results, recognizing levels of productivity and trends to productivity decreasing or increasing.
  • Comparison: To go ahead with productivity monitoring you need to have a conception of good, sufficient or low productivity levels which are stated in certain performance standards. This plan will be compared against indicators that you have in reality; therefore a plan should be based on certain objective appraisal, probably a common norm, experiment-based results or projection.
  • Identification: One of the goals of productivity monitoring is to find out what reasons underlie a lack of productivity. In other words to understand whether employees can�t do the job right or they don�t want to do it . In both cases you need to perform special investigation to define what exactly harms the productivity on each workplace, and once reasons are identified, they need to be removed or mitigated.
  • Feedback: Low productivity should be approached very accurately and thoroughly. A company cannot demand from its employees a good productivity level if these employees are untrained, demotivated, poorly managed or supplied with defective tools. It is necessary to consider all factors before reaching employees with feedbacks. When you are sure that poor productivity is a result of time wasting or any other counter-productive employee�s attitudes, then you can apply warnings, personal meetings, disciplinary actions, re-examinations, etc.

2) How to organize Employee Productivity Monitoring:

  1. Conceptualize the output which is to be controlled on every workplace;
  2. Determine how the amount and quality of goods/services/value produced by employees can be measured (indicators of productivity in regard with specifics of certain jobs, departments, etc);

For example: productivity of a salesperson can be appraised through a number of deals he has closed during the month, or amount of products/services he sold in monetary explanation, while support operator can be appraised through a number of trouble tickets he has resolved.

  • Special reports manually created by employee supervisors;
  • Information derived from departmental electronic databases, where possible;
  • Managerial observations;
  • Employee self-reporting;
  • Productivity-related data pieces collected from official documents;
  • Industrial norms;
  • Objective estimation;
  • Experiment-based results;
  • Historical data (previous experience);

You may use spreadsheet managers or any other software of your choice to get information on productivity into one electronic file to be solely reviewed and managed;

  • How stable the productivity level is: check its peaks and decreases;
  • Define what factors caused these fluctuations;
  • Categorize productivity by performers, departments, etc;
  • Define if someone regularly underperforms;
  • Define if someone regularly surpasses usual productivity level;
  • Too high productivity standards, they may need to be re-approved and revised;
  • Ineffective working process, tools, methods, etc;
  • Low morale and demotivation among employees;
  • Very poor work organization and planning;
  • Poor staff selection and assignment;

3) Away to Monitor Employee Productivity with VIP Task Manager:

VIP Task Manager is a product that stands for collaboration between managers and employees, so it allows managers to monitor productivity of employees in terms of their particular tasks and goals. Let�s consider simple step-by-step instructions to monitor productivity using this product:

Instruments to be used:

  1. Task Tree mode;
  2. Task List mode;

Task Tree mode actions:

  1. Set work decomposition maintaining tasks and task groups;
  2. Create in each group appropriate sub-groups and sequenced tasks;
  3. Plan certain values for tasks (using Custom Fields) or set productivity norms in some other way;

Task List mode actions:

  1. Use �Assignment� field of the Filters to display tasks by Resources (employees assigned);
  2. Set �By Date� filtering to select a controllable period of time;
  3. Set filtering by Status to check amount of work (tasks) completed per defined period of time by selected employees;

Looking for multi-user task management software? Try CentriQS complete task management solution for planning, tracking and reporting tasks, projects, and schedules. Increase productivity of your small business or office by better organizing your employees’ tasks and time.

On average, I spend 30 hours a week on all my blogs.

How to do a simple productivity audit

This is my second year as a full-time blogger, and I’m learning how to be more efficient and gain more productivity in my day as a mom blogger.

One thing that might help you as a new blogger is to perform a blog audit.

Specifically, a time audit where you look at where you are spending most of your time when you blog.

This might be an eye opener or you might shy away from this activity because you know you aren’t always working on your blog when it’s time to blog.

You can start a blog audit at any time!

If you really want blogging to be the way to make a living working from home, then you have to make each task you do count and give that task the time it needs.

So, let’s go into how you can start a blog audit to find out where your time is going.

Questions To Answer for Your Blog Audit

Trying to figure out what to focus on as a blogger can be a challenge. Many bloggers tell you so many different things.

Well, let’s flip that around and just focus on the core methods for building a successful blog:

  • What tasks/things/posts have given me the most results up until now?
  • Where do I spend most of my time when I sit down to blog?
  • What can I do to continue growing my blog but not spend more time doing it?

If you only focus on these three things, then you can build a strong blog plan.

What Tasks Have Given Me the Most Results Up Until Now?

Looking at your blogging history, what things did you do that gave you the biggest ROI?

For me, they are:

  • Networking/Outreach
  • Product creation

I know – for me – those core tasks have given me the most subscribers, income, and traffic.

Where Do I Spend Most of My Time When I Sit Down to Blog?

This question can open up a whole can of worms. I know I spend a lot of time:

  • Answering emails
  • Supporting students
  • Formatting guest posts/subcontractor posts
  • (Eek!) Social media

What Can I Do to Continue Growing My Blog But Not Spend More Time Doing It?

There are many things I do so that I’m not spending a lot of time on all the other parts of my business, like social media.

So, let’s look at six ways you can continue to grow but not spend extra time doing it.

1. Automate Everything

If possible, automate as much as you can. This – for me – means automating a lot of my social media content.

I use Buffer for Facebook, Grum for Instagram, IFTTT for Twitter, and Tailwind for Pinterest.

Having these social media automation tools saves me hours a week on posting and scheduling.

2. Outsource and Delegate

If this is possible, consider outsourcing some of your blogging tasks to free up time to focus on the important things.

When I started more blogs, I had to have writers help me with my content.

When my business started growing, my husband joined, me and I delegated tasks for him like customer support and tech help.

Maybe outsourcing would help at home instead of in your business.

Hiring a babysitter or nanny to watch your child or children a few times a week can help you gain time for blogging.

3. Streamline Your Processes

Take a look at the tasks that takes a lot of time and see how you can streamline that task.

For example, I spend a lot of time answering emails. I found I was answering the same type of emails with the same type of answers. So, instead of manually typing out these answers, I created canned responses in Gmail.

How to do a simple productivity audit

I also use spreadsheets for my Pinterest descriptions, a pitch checklist for when I pitch to clients, and a blog editorial calendar for my content.

Whether you use a Bullet Journal for your blog plan or a planner or digital tool, find a system that works for you.

4. Type Faster

The faster you type, the faster you can whip out blog posts.

When I do a blog challenge to write a blog post every day, I know my sweet spot is around 1,000 words.

I can write that in about an hour, which makes it super easy to write a blog post every day in the morning.

To increase your typing speed, make sure you are typing the proper way and sitting at a desk – not your couch or kitchen table.

You can also take a typing test to improve the speed and accuracy of typing. My personal favorite is Key Hero, a free typing test program.

How to do a simple productivity auditMy Key Hero typing test score

5. Repurpose

By far, the best time-saving task I use regularly is repurposing content.

By optimizing the time I spend at my computer, I can create up to six different types of content from one piece of content.

I can publish a blog post and then create a Facebook Live about the blog’s topic.

From there, I can upload my Facebook Live video to YouTube to create a YouTube video. I can then use snippets of it to create an email newsletter and infographic for Pinterest.

Use parts of that blog post to create a subtopic in a blog post and open up the discussion from this blog post in a guest post.

There are many ways you can repurpose and recycle your content to extend its life and optimize your time blogging.

6. Time Yourself

It might be a good idea to time yourself doing various tasks.

How long does it take you to write an email? Create a Pin? Answer questions on Facebook?

Make a list of the daily tasks you do as a blogger and then time yourself.

Do this for a few days to get a good representation of how much time each task takes.

You can use this information to motivate you to do things quicker or see where you can streamline what you’re doing.

Maybe creating new pins is taking too long for you. To cut the time, you can create a pin template and use that to create many new pins in half the time.

Create a New Blog Plan

How to do a simple productivity auditWith the information you gathered from your blog audit, you can create new blogging goals for your blog plan.

For me, it’s hard to remain highly focussed when I blog. I like to listen to music with I write, and this helps me with my creativity.

But, since writing is a very creative task after I’ve been writing for an hour, I do take “social” breaks to check out what’s going on Facebook or on Pinterest.

I need these breaks to keep my creativity going and not give me blogger burn out!

What are the tasks that take the most time for you? How can you reduce that time? Share with me in the comments!

Question: What does your car, your house, your coffee grinder, your budget, your work routines, and even your marriage all have in common?

Answer: They all require maintenance.

Pretty much anything and everything of importance requires our intentional and proactive care.

However, I find that the older I get, the more “set in my ways” I am.

Somewhere I read that after the age of 35 or so, people stop being excited about new technology. And they even begin to look at new technological inventions and advancements with a critical and negative eye.

If we’re weary to get the latest cell phone, how much more so are we prone to keep doing things the way we’ve always done them?

That stubbornness can be good and bad.

It’s good insofar as it keeps us on track to show up every day and do the work.

But that stubbornness does not serve us well if it keeps us from learning, maturing, and adapting. Our workflows, tools, and routines all need a good old-fashioned audit once in a while.

Auditing Your Workflow

It used to be that when a new operating system would ship for my Mac, then I would do my most serious tinkering. I would do a clean install of OS X and be forced to re-evaluate which apps I wanted re-install.

But nowadays updating OS X is about as easy as updating an app. And though I have made some significant changes to my daily writing routine, I haven’t preformed a good workflow audit in nearly a year and a half (since I bought this Retina iMac).

For the next couple of articles I’m going to be writing about my own workflows and tools in hopes to show you why it’s important (and fun!) take time out for a workflow audit.

As you’re getting to work on your goals and projects for the year, now is as good a time as any to reassess the tools you’re using and how you’re using them.

Maybe it’s time to find a more advanced tool. Or, maybe it’s time to switch to something more basic. How can your processes be enhanced? How can they be simplified? Does something need to be added? Can something be removed?

There’s no right or wrong answer so long as you’re at least asking the questions. (Put that on a stock photo and Pin it).

So, when I do a major workflow audit like the one I’ll be doing this month, there are several things I consider:

On my Mac and iPhone I consider what software I no longer use or need; what files can I archive away onto a backup drive; and what files can I delete?

In my schedule I consider how I’m spending my time over the course of a week; what would I like to add or remove to my routines; is my time being spent how I want it to be spent; at the end of a week do I feel a sense of accomplishment and contentment in the areas that matter?

With my team I look at how to remove bottlenecks and friction as well as ways to empower them, give them more autonomy, and increase overall team morale.

For my own day-to-day activities, I consider how I plan my day; how manage and accomplish my to-do list; how I deal with email; how I write, record, and publish articles and podcasts; how I read and study; and how I make consistent progress on big projects.

Because everything above interacts and interweaves with the others, a look at the entire workflow is needed on occasion. It’s valuable to just take a moment, look at the big picture, and ask if everything is running well.

Our lives are ever-changing. As are our interests, priorities, and availability. It’s worth the effort to take a look at our systems and tools to make sure they are still the ones serving us and not the other way around.

And then, as they advise in 4DX, if every other area of my operation remained at its current level of performance, what is the one area where change would have the greatest impact?

In 2018, having founded two companies in the food industry, I was living my dream, but all the same I felt burned out and stuck. I needed to make a change. Wanting to know what other people did to create real happiness and fulfillment in their lives, I went on the road to find out.

After six months of budgeting and preparation, I went on a three-month cross-country road trip to interview 500 happy people in 50 states for a documentary called “American Happiness,” which premieres February 25. After my trip, and based on what I learned, I founded a new company, the American Happiness Project.

Today, I run workshops and programs for companies, organizations, and schools to help people manage stress, increase happiness, prioritize mental health and wellness, and build positive habits, especially right now as so many of us work remotely.

I recommend taking an audit of what creates happiness in your own life every three months. And the launch of this new year, after the upheaval of 2020, is the perfect time to take stock of what’s satisfying in your life and what isn’t. A couple of simple strategies, I’ve found, can make a real impact. Here is my best advice for doing your own happiness audit.

Listen to your gut

It’s easy to ignore the feeling that things aren’t right and to push it down because you feel like you are doing what you “should.”

Now, and again at the beginning of every quarter, ask yourself three key questions:

  1. What do I truly want?
  2. Are the activities I do each day aligning with what I want?
  3. What shifts can I make to start incorporating more of what I want into my daily life?

You can also do this on a smaller scale too on a daily basis.

Start your morning on your own terms

So many of us do this: We check our phones first thing when we wake up. But that can allow outside factors to determine how our day will unfold. It can mean we’re starting the day off in “response” mode, which can affect our ability to set our own goals and priorities.

Try this instead: After your alarm goes off, turn your phone on airplane mode for two minutes.

Video by Mariam Abdallah

Then ask yourself these three questions:

  1. What am I looking forward to today?
  2. What has potential to cause stress or worry, and how will I choose to respond?
  3. How do I want to feel at the end of the day, and what do I need to do (or not do) to make that happen?

Taking stock of these answers each morning is powerful, especially when you are trying to make a change. Taking the time to answer these questions will ensure you have a plan for productivity and any obstacles that may try to get in the way.

Set simple intentions

Set your intention for the year, month, week, or even hour by choosing one word on how you want to feel, or what you want to experience during that time period. When a less than great situation does come up, or you find yourself feeling less than great, ask yourself, “Am I embodying my one word?”

Bringing focus back to your intention in a simple way is powerful and ensures that you stay self-aware and moving forward.

Michelle Wax is the founder of American Happiness Project, which works with companies, schools, and individuals to create more joy and meaning in the everyday, and create accountability around prioritizing purpose and happiness across all areas of life.

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Internal audits help organizations achieve corporate objectives by keeping a pulse on the consistency of internal business practices.

The goal of an internal audit is to ensure organizational policies and procedures are followed and to alert the management of gaps in policy compliance.

The internal audit process can be done with internal resources or can be outsourced to an external third-party vendor.

However, making sure that the audit practice is done consistently can help organizations manage performance and ensure consistent product quality.

Performing an internal audit can be time-consuming, and resources need to be allocated to the process.

An audit can be done daily, weekly, monthly, or annually. Some departments may need to be audited more often than others.

8 Steps to Performing an Internal Audit

1. Identify Areas that Need Auditing

Identify departments that operate by using policies and procedures written by the organization or by regulatory agencies.

This can include areas as complex as manufacturing processes or as simplistic as accounting procedures.

Make a list of each area and the functions of the area that require review.

2. Determine How Often Auditing Needs to be Done

Some areas may only need to be audited annually, while some departments may require more frequent audits.

For example, a manufacturing process may require daily audits for quality control purposes, while the HR function may only require an annual audit of records and processes.

3. Create An Audit Calendar

A structured and systematic approach to the auditing process can help ensure the function gets completed.

And, like any other business goal, audits should be integrated into corporate objectives.

Scheduling audits on the business calendar ensures that it is done consistently.

4. Alert Departments of Scheduled Audits

It is simply common courtesy to give departments notice of an audit so they can have the necessary documents and materials ready and available for the reviewer.

A surprise audit should only be done if there is suspicion of unethical or illegal activity.

Department managers should not feel threatened by an auditor but view them as a valued resource to help them better manage their area.

5. Be Prepared

The auditor should come prepared with an understanding of policies and procedures and a list of items that will be reviewed.

For example, an HR audit may focus on employee files and I-9 compliance.

The more prepared the auditor is, the more efficient the process will be, and the less downtime there will be for the area being reviewed.

6. Interview Users

The auditor should interview employees and ask them to explain their work process.

Compare the process, as the employee explained it, to what the written policy says.

How to do a simple productivity audit

This step is to gain an understanding of employee competence and identify areas that need additional training.

7. Document Results

Document the results and any differences in practice to how the policies are written, when policies are complied with and when they are not.

This may also include other information that is gathered from the interview process. Again, the goal is to identify gaps in compliance and to figure out a way to bridge that gap.

8. Report Findings

Create an easy to read audit report. These reports should be reviewed with senior management, and an improvement plan should be developed for areas that have gaps in practice compliance.

Using a FOCUS PDCA model can help facilitate a structured process for implementing this type of improvement.

Other things to think about

  • When reviewing policies and procedures, it is essential to think about whether written policies are meeting the needs of customers and adding value to the organization.
  • Policies and procedures should focus on continuous improvement as it relates to how work is performed.
  • Is there a healthy team environment that supports compliance with policies and procedures? A dysfunctional team can impact procedural compliance.
  • Policies and procedures should be reviewed on an annual basis to ensure policies reflect the changing business environment.

Businesses are only as successful as their ability to create products and services that meet the needs of their customers and to deliver these products and services accurately, seamlessly, and without error.

Policies and procedures are how organizations maintain efficient and effective practices that support quality products and services. Internal audits are one tool that organizations use to ensure that their products and services are delivered the right way, the first time and every time.