In my 30-second ad last week, I told the rad community builders at Network NRV that people often misunderstand who it is I work with – some think coaching is for people who are unholy messes, incapable in some way. The exact opposite is true: I’m lucky enough to work with some of the most driven, empowered, productive, visionary people I’ve ever met. Coaching isn’t about fixing anyone but rather enhancing the badassery that is already there.

Which makes it all the more funny to me when my clients confess – as so many of them do – to being lazy.

Yeah, no.

To them, I offer a tool that I now offer you. I call it Radical Time Tracking though somewhere early in my coaching career, a client renamed it The Terrible, Horrible Thing and for its honesty and its homage to Maurice Sendak, I’ve adopted the name.

Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Find a means of documentation that you’ll remember and utilize. I prefer a scrap of paper that I can carry around all day without having to open my phone and risk the distraction of a half-dozen notifications. If you’re an all-app kinda kid, go for it.

Step 2: Track your time. Every minute of it. All day. Billable and administrative work, yes, and also travel time. Meal and snack breaks. Bathroom breaks. Excursions into the rabbit holes of social media and search engines. Self-care, networking time, social time. All of it. From waking to bed.

That’s it. You do that for as many days in a row as you can. Me, I shoot for three days at a stretch whenever I do it because I tend to be on my best behavior on the first day, avoiding those rabbit holes because I know I’m going to have to write them down. Days two and three tend to be a little more typical of my work/play style.

What makes it Terrible and Horrible? It’s uncomfortable to really look at where we spend our time, and tedious to note all of it. But it’s doable and valuable in that it tends to provide two kinds of insight:

  1. Invisible time sucks, the things you don’t really value but you do out of habit and that hoover up time. I certainly spend more time on social media than I value.
  2. Your actual level of productivity. This is the one that tends to really get people. I found it pretty uncomfortable to get a clear picture of just how much time I was spending on social media when I first did this but what was even more notable to me was that I was actually spending the rest of the time pretty doggone well and was just expecting to be able to get more done in any given hour or day than was realistic.

My “lazy” clients? Sure, they have their own time sucks but, more so, they were beating themselves up for having a limited amount of time and energy in each day. They were judging their levels of productivity based on an unrealistic should rather than the reality of their busy lives.

Next time you’re feeling that stomach-churning sensation of being on a hamster wheel, or your inner gremlin voice is chanting “lazy” into your ear, give this a go. I think you’ll be struck and perhaps even pleasantly surprised by what you find after three days of tracking.

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