How can I assess whether I'm using my time productively or not?

Try keeping an activity log for a week. There are lots of free time-tracking and productivity apps a Google search away, but a notebook or spreadsheet may do you just as well. For a week, write down every 15 minutes what you’ve done in that period. Be honest (nobody else is going to see it): if you’ve spent the last 15 minutes looking out the window, or gazing longingly at photos of ski slopes on the Internet, put it down. Write down if you’ve spent the time in a meeting that was of no use to you, or helping someone else with their work, or waiting for the IT system to be repaired again. Put it all down.

When you tot up the hours for each activity after a week, you may be very surprised to find out that you spent a great deal of time either doing things that somebody else should have been doing or things that you simply didn’t need to do at all. From that, you can work out what activities have been taking up too much and too little of your time, and take steps to spend more or less time on them as appropriate. Keep the activity log going a while to measure how far you are becoming more productive.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.