Why I Am Tracking How I Spend My Time
About half way through 2016, I felt at a low in terms of personal productivity. Work was getting away from me during the day and in the evenings I wasn’t managing to get any personal goals complete. I was spending time responding to other peoples requests rather than proactively setting my own agenda. Come August, I felt I had to slow down, say no and re-focus.
Towards the end of the year, I managed to pick up my productivity. Work felt better. My social time felt more deliberate. I even managed to put some time toward personal projects which has led to the launch of my latest project: learningbydoing.club.
With momentum in my favour, I want to push this to another level again.
Productivity is an amplifier
Productivity amplifies all our actions; allowing us to do more, better.
Historically, being productive meant who could produce the most units of output in industry. As our work has changed though, so has the meaning of productivity. It doesn’t just refer to the amount of work you can do but also the importance of work you can do.
If every day we are just 10 minutes more productive, over the course of the year you have an extra 3,650 minutes. That is just under 61 hours or two and a half days.
What would you do with an extra two and a half days?
Why I am tracking my time spent
In order to find a solution to the ‘how to be more productive?’ question, I need to first be fully aware of the problem. What is preventing me from being more productive now? And what can I change to be more productive?
To understand this, I want to do a full assessment of how I am currently spending my time. For two weeks (and possibly longer) I will be recording start times and end times for everything I do. When do I wake up? When do I start work? What do I do in between? What do I do when I’m home? As in the post, I’ll put all this time spent into a spreadsheet (although I’ll initially be writing them down as a note on my phone).
To start, I’ll be considering work as one large block, allowing me to focus on my personal time. If I find this useful, I’ll also break down my work hours into their individual components.
For each day, I’ll also make a simple note of how I felt. Did I feel productive? Yes or no. Did I feel productive throughout the day? Just in the morning? Just in the evening?
A few questions I want to answer
In tracking my time, I want to understand:
- Am I spending my most productive time on my most important tasks?
- How much time do I spend being responsive to others vs acting on my own agenda?
- Am I spending my time with people I want to spend time with?
- How much time do I spend with people vs on my own?
- What activities do I allow to ‘slip’ from my agenda?
- How much time do I spend on work (Deliveroo or personal) vs leisure?
- What days of the week do I deviate from my plan?
- How does alcohol effect my productivity the next day?
- Does my diet effect my productivity?
- How much time do I spend being healthy?
Once I’ve plotted my time spent, I should be able to make statements like: 10% of my time is spent on being healthy, 50% of my time is spent at work, and so on. I’m excited and nervous to see how this looks for me.
Let’s get productive
In two weeks, I’ll share the results of my time assessment. I’ll break it down and categorise exactly how I actually spend my 100 blocks currently.
I’ll then be making a plan of how I desire to spend my 100 blocks. In an ideal world, what would I spend my time doing? How does it differ to the actual? What do I do too much of? What do I do too little of? And most importantly, how can I move from the actual closer to the planned ideal?
I’ll report back in two weeks time.
[Update - 24 Jun 2019] - After tracking my time spend for over a year, I developed a tool to enable this practice in a quicker and more effective fashion. Dreamweeks.co is my new side-project that allows you to track and visualize how you spend your time so you can make actionable changes to your routine.
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