"Oh, oh, what I want to know-oh / Where does the time go?" -- Grateful Dead, Uncle John's Band
I'm going on leave next week, so as a way to make sure I'm thorough about giving the right "turnover" to the person who's going to stand in for me, I'm doing something that I thought would be a huge pain but is turning out to be kind of cool -- time-logging.
I mean, I no kidding have a voice recorder that I speak into before meetings, before running down tasks for the boss, and just at random points in the day. With it come little commentaries explaining what it is I'm doing, what not to forget, who to go to for questions, etc. At the end of the day I do a quick transcription of everything I record.
What I'm finding is that it's helping me at least as much as it will help him.
a) Helps understand where the day really goes. I don't think there's a working person anywhere in America that's never had this feeling -- you've been working hard all day, and you know you've been busy for what felt like each second, but at the end of the day you look at the clock -- it's quitting time and you have no idea what you just did. This helps answer that question.
b) On some level, it forces me to be more aware. Because I know I'm logging what I'm doing, even if the audience is only myself, one other person, and my eventual, yet-unnamed relief at the command down the line, I'm sure it focuses me a bit to know there are more sets of eyes on what I'm doing. A little consciousness-raising is probably a good thing for anyone...in fact, it makes me think of Matt and Shannon's comments to the cleanliness post -- a lot of what's going to make you successful is just maintaining your own awareness level of what you're doing.
c) Down the road, it will lead to greater efficiency. Once I have time to let the transcript of the recorder sit on its own for a while, I can come back to it with a critical eye and find better ways to do my job... "I spent ___ hours that week doing what?!!??" is the reaction I'm hoping to have.
It may be a pain, but I recommend trying this, if even for a single day.
What you find out might surprise you.