The Repeat Test

Create Strategies to Improve Work Performance

Every professional has those moments when they can’t seem to focus. It becomes easier to think about what needs to be done rather than to start on tasks, and before you know it, you’ve wasted half an hour of your day. No one means to waste time at their job, but it’s often a struggle to climb that hill when you have no motivation to do so. To get your work done, you need to come up with strategies that prevent you from wasting precious time in your work day.

The Repeat Test is a great tool to see where you waste time in a day. Using a spreadsheet, make a column of numbers representing the hours of the day that you are awake. Your column may start at 6 a.m. and go as late as 11 p.m.

After you have created the first column, create a second column that is considerably wider than the first. At the top of every hour, stop for 1 minute and consider how you spent the last hour. Was it a waste of your time? Would you repeat the same action again, or did you find yourself frustrated? Jot down your notes in the second column next to the appropriate hour. You might write, “Department meeting accomplished very little. Twenty people in one room is too many.”

Using this test is a great way to improve your own performance. If you noted that an hour was wasted, you have specific notes as to why. Use your notes to make changes in your routine so that you can create strategies that allow you to be productive.

The technique of evaluating productivity and committing to change is not new, but it has yet to gain popularity. In 2013, Harvard Business Review researchers asked 15 business executives to make themselves more productive by thinking consciously about how they spend their time, and dropping or outsourcing trivial tasks. Each executive was able to dramatically increase their productivity by cutting desk work by an average of 6 hours a week and meeting time by an average of 2 hours a week. One executive, Lotta Laitinen, a manager at If, evaluated her time and chose to abandon meetings and administrative tasks in order to spend more time supporting her team. It lead to a 5 percent increase in sales by her unit over a three-week period!

Try the Repeat Test for a few days to see how it feels for you. At the very least, you will gain immediate insight into the ways that you use your time. If you keep at it, the test will give you a valuable record of how you spent your week, month, or year.