Conduct a time and motion study

Jan 15, 2018

timeandmotionstudyOverworked? Becoming unproductive? Have you thought about conducting your own personal time and motion study?
A time and motion study monitors what you are doing at any given part of the day, over a consecutive number of days.  It may be carried out over 15 or 20 minute intervals, and all the time you log what you are doing.
Time and motion studies are probably the most antagonistic of all productivity analyses. They are usually met with resentment and fear and cause lots of upset. Why on earth would someone in the company want to watch what you are doing every 15/20 minutes? Why on earth would someone want to know how long it takes you to do a task? So if you are a manager and thinking ‘yes! let’s put in place a time and motion study!’ proceed with caution and keep your reasons for doing so transparent.
However, as someone who wants to improve your personal productivity, there is nothing wrong conducting a time and motion study of your own. This will enable you to analyse where your time is being spent. You might not want to tell others, or share the results, but if you want to tweet what you’re up to, use the #bookcareers hashtag.
Here is what you need to do:-
Download the Time and Motion form we’ve prepared for you. PDF / Excel
Fill in the top header with the most common tasks that you know form part of your job. Aim to be specific, so rather than write down ‘Editing’, you might write, ‘1st copy edit’, or ‘structural edit’, or ‘checking freelancers edit’. Leave a few headings blank for things you are not expecting. Then every 15 minutes, or every hour, update the sheet and reflect on what has happened. Note every interruption, be it from a colleague or elsewhere, and mark these down too.
You don’t need to run a Time and Motion study for a prolonged period. It is often thought that as few as three days can show
a pattern, and I wouldn’t recommend doing it for longer than 5. Just enough for you to see where your time is being spent. Don’t pick and choose the days to run this either; there is never a good day to start or finish. If you are looking for the best days to do this, stop procrastinating and get on with it. 
I’ll discuss the results and what to do next in a future blog.