And … what does this have to do with your job search?Â
Well, success leaves clues, as the success experts say.Â
And one of the reasons for the astounding success of FedEx can be traced to the following motto, which is a part of their corporate culture: You can’t improve what you don’t measure.
It’s the same for your job search.
To get the most from every hour of every day — and get hired faster — you have to measure how you spend your time. Only then can you really improve what you’re doing.
Now. Let me make a proposal and a prediction here.
The proposal is this: I want you to track how you spend your day from the time you wake up until you knock off at night. Track your activities in 5-minute blocks and do this for one full work week, from Monday to Friday.Â
That’s my proposal. What’s my prediction?
You will be shocked — shocked! — by how much time you’re frittering away each week. We’re talking hours and hours of wasted effort, if you’re like most job seekers I meet.
Since I try not to dispense advice that I wouldn’t follow myself, I tried this time-tracking experiment on yours truly. Here’s what happened ….
Two weeks ago, I started carrying a little black notebook to write down how I spent my time Monday through Friday, from 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. I tracked it all in 5-minute increments, right down to telephone calls, checking email and bathroom breaks.Â
At the end of that week, I tallied up the numbers in an Excel spreadsheet for analysis. The results were nothing short of astonishing.
Here’s just one example: I spent 585 minutes that week reading and responding to email. That’s 9.75 hours — more than one workday! Multiply that by four weeks and it’s 39 hours — nearly one full workweek — spent on email each month.Â
If I were looking for a job, do you think I could have spent, say, four of those hours each week on something more productive? You bet your bottom bippy.Â
So I made changes.Â
I limited myself to checking email only three times a day instead of the 9 or 10 times I was before. Result? The next week, I slashed email time to 250 minutes, or about 4.15 hours. That’s an extra 5.6 hours of time every week to spend on higher-level activities.
If you’re in a job search and save 5-10 hours a week by tracking and eliminating unproductive activities this way, you could see a dramatic increase in job leads. Especially if you replace low-level tasks like checking email with high-value activities like networking and calling on employers directly.
Example: you can make networking calls to 6 friends in one hour to remind them that you’re in the job market, explain what you’re looking for and ask for assistance. Six calls multiplied by 5 hours equals 30 calls a week — 120 a month.
Now, do you think you MIGHT get hired faster if you called to network with 120 people this month? I’ll answer that for you — Yes!
It all starts with tracking how you spend your day, identifying chunks of wasted time and replacing them with productive activities, like networking or hand-delivering your resume.Â
And here’s an immediate, extra benefit: the mere act of measuring what you do will improve how you do it. By some quirk of human nature, when we know that we’ll be held accountable for our actions, we tend to perform better. Try it and see.Â
The first step is easy — carry around a little notebook for one week and write down how you spend each day. Start tomorrow.Â
Please don’t underestimate the incredible power of this simple idea. I promise you will be energized and excited when you measure — and improve — how you spend your time. You WILL get hired faster if you do this.