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Are you *really* that busy? [let’s find out!]

“But I caaaaaaan’t because I’m soooooo busy!”

is the #1 complaint that I hear from my clients.

“I don’t have time to write an email newsletter because I’m so busy.”

“I don’t have time to work on my new e-course because I’m so busy.”

“I don’t have time to email my previous clients to see how they’re doing, congratulate them on their progress, or request a testimonial for my website. Did I mention I’m really BUSY?!”

I can relate. When you’re self-employed, you’ve got ALL THE THINGS to do.

You’ve got to take care of your current clients and customers and make them THRILLED that they chose to work with you. You’ve got to update your website regularly and keep it sparkly and spiffy. You’ve got to dole out blog posts, podcasts, and other fun pieces of free content to keep your fans happy. You’ve got to manage your staff, if you have one. You’ve got to reply to a never-ending flow of emails. You’ve got to come up with marketing strategies and actually follow through. Oh, and occasionally sleep, eat, and shower!

It’s a lot to juggle, and it’s a lot of pressure. No one’s denying that.

But here’s a question for you:

Are you *really* that busy?

Or does it just *feel* like you’re really, really busy?

Do you actually know where your time is going each day?

When we initially start working together, most of my clients don’t know where their time is actually going. Also, they don’t know how long it takes them to complete business-related tasks. (Client: “I think I can usually write one blog post in…. uh, I dunno? Twenty minutes? Nine hours? Maybe somewhere in the middle? I have no idea.”)

To clear up the confusion, I always encourage my clients to do a very simple exercise, and it’s one that I want YOU to do, too.

It’s really simple: Track your time for 3 days.

All you need is: something to track your time—like a watch, an old-fashioned kitchen timer, an online tool like MyHours.com, or the stopwatch app on your phone.

When you’re about to start doing something, write down the name of that activity—like, “Answering business-related emails” or “Cleaning up the kitchen” or “Working on a new blog post” or “Binge-watching season 3 of The Fall on Netflix” or “Goofing around on Facebook” or “Driving to Target and running errands” or “Reading blog posts and articles on the Internet.”

Whatever you’re about to do, write it down and start the stopwatch. When you’re done with that particular activity, stop the stopwatch. Record how much time you actually spent doing that activity. (Carrying a small notebook around can be helpful, or you can record a memo on your phone.) Repeat this all day long for 3 days.

It’s OK if you don’t record everything “perfectly,” but try to be as accurate as possible. Even if you’re just lounging in bed reading a gossip column about Justin Bieber’s new supermodel-girlfriend and/or the shade he’s throwing at Selena Gomez dating The Weeknd (my FAVE Sunday afternoon activity!), RECORD IT. Track and record EVERYTHING that you do. Yes, I know it’s slightly tedious, but it’s just for 3 days of your life! You can do anything for 3 days. #YouGotThis

After 3 days, you’ll have a very clear picture of where your time is going.

Ultimately, this exercise is all about “attentiveness.” Once my clients start paying more attention to where their time is going, it creates all kinds of positive ripple effects. They plan their days differently. They tweak their goals to make them more realistic. They’re able to provide more accurate quotes/project timelines to their clients. They feel less time-crunched and stressed, because they stop over-scheduling themselves so much. So much good stuff.

I know the same thing will happen for you, too. Try this out before the end of the year! Track your time for 3 days and see what you discover.

Maybe you’re not quite as “busy” as you think you are. Or maybe you TOTALLY are! There’s only one way to find out for sure: Track and record. The numbers won’t lie. 🙂