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How to Use a 15-Minute Work Map to Supercharge Your Productivity

work map

Congratulations! You’ve done it. You’ve launched your own business and, though you’re a hard worker with a proclivity for facing new challenges head-on, you’re also ready to begin enjoying the autonomy and flexibility that comes with being your own boss.

That was me a few years ago as an entrepreneur starting on my own business journey and I quickly realized that, being the one in charge, I was also the only employee wearing all the hats all of the time. Drowned in a never-ending list of duties and also putting out every imminent fire, everything was my responsibility and the buck only stopped with you-know-who.

As my business grew and I was able to bring on more staff members, I was also finding it hard to discern amongst all my responsibilities which ones I was able to give up while also keeping the business steadily flowing. I had become so busy and laser-focused that I didn’t know and couldn’t clearly define where I was spending my time. I would get a lot accomplished each workday, but still had that laundry list of items waiting for me the next morning. Something had to give. I knew I needed to get things off my plate and delegate – but delegate intelligently. Where to begin?

I quickly realized I needed to get a better grasp on what types of duties were taking up my time each day. So I created a worksheet with time slots, set a timer to sound every 15 minutes during working hours, and began logging my time. I called it my 15-Minute Work Map. Every time the buzzer sounded, I returned to my worksheet and recorded what I had been working on during the previous 15-minute window. After undergoing this exercise for two weeks, a clearer picture began to emerge – I became more aware of not only the areas where I was wonderfully efficient, but also of the many tasks that were taking up much of my time and halting my productivity, like haggling with an office supply vendor over a return order, or troubleshooting a password account.

Here’s How I create my own 15-Minute Work Map:

I started by creating a new spreadsheet with these columns: Time of Day, Tasks, Tasks Categories, and Task Delegation. Then, I worked my normal day with a timer set to sound every 15 minutes. At the end of the 15 minutes, I stopped what I was doing briefly and recorded a quick note about what I’d spent that past 15 minutes doing. For instance, I might write down, “Responding to emails about upcoming webinar.”

Related: How to Use Time-Blocking for Productivity

As I began to record my time throughout the day this week, general patterns began to emerge, allowing me to add my tasks to broad categories that make sense for my work. Next, the final and most crucial part of the 15-minute work map comes into play: you can start adding a “Task Delegation” column.

Review your whole work day and put each 15-minute block into one of these four categories:

  • Tasks I can and want to give up: These are ripe for delegation
  • Tasks I can’t give up: Be careful you’re being honest with yourself on these tasks–but there are some things that fall into this category
  • Tasks I can but don’t want to give up: This may be a category for tasks you know you could delegate but you enjoy or are uniquely good at
  • Personal time: Walking your dog, taking a lunch break, picking up your kids from school–of course, this category will remain yours

Here are the instructions for creating your 15-minute work week in detail:

1. Open a new spreadsheet with the following column and respective row headings:

  • Time of Day (8:00-8:15 am, 8:15-8:30 am, etc.)
  • Tasks – be sure to mark breaks during your workday, including Lunch and other windows of time for personal tasks (e.g., running errands, walking the dog, etc.)
  • Tasks Categories – create your own as patterns emerge from recording your differing tasks
  • Task Delegation (to be completed afterward)
    • Tasks I can and want to give up
    • Tasks I can’t give up
    • Tasks I can but don’t want to give up
    • Personal time

2. Set a timer to sound every 15 minutes.

3. Record your tasks during each time frame for at least 10 working days.

4. As general patterns emerge, create categories for your different tasks.

5. Determine which tasks fit into each delegation category.

6. Begin delegating!

We know we can’t do it all on our own. Try it out and see if the 15-Minute Map works for you as it did for me, serving as a solution in helping you delegate to become the efficient business owner you know you can be!

Ashley Holmer

Ashley Holmer joins the Trusty Oak team ready to help drive business growth and success, having lived most of her life in the land of tall, evergreen trees of the Pacific Northwest and with over 15 years of experience. With a strong and steadfast work ethic and dedication to professionalism and integrity, she can readily handle a wide range of tasks and responsibilities to make your business operate more smoothly and efficiently. Ashley’s experience across the nonprofit, tourism, sports, and mortgage banking sectors has given her the knowledge and versatile set of skills that make her a great asset in any office. With a creative and entrepreneurial spirit, in addition to cheerfully completing tasks in data-tracking, filing, research, invoicing, and proofreading, Ashley also specializes in email management, calendar and meeting scheduling, event and travel planning and execution, expense reports, and a myriad of human resource-related tasks.

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