That’s about how many extra hours a day I’d like right now. Then I’d feel like I had enough time complete all my unfinished jobs and then leaf through my growing stash of magazines.
Whenever I feel as if I have no time, I know it’s time to review what I’m doing with my time.
Even though I really want more time to do things. Sometimes, it’s better to spend more time doing things that keep me energised, which may not necessarily be on my to do list.
One good way to review what I’m doing with my time is to track it. It’s something I’ve done sporadically over the years, but recently came across Laura Vanderkam’s Time Tracking Challenge which got me thinking about it again. Today’s post shares some useful tips to make time tracking as accurate and useful as possible, and help you get the most out of the data when you review.
1 | Be Honest
It can feel painful to write down that you’ve spent three hours mindlessly surfing the net, with no recollection of any specific websites. However, the purpose of time tracking is to record what you’ve done, no need to judge it. Analysing why you’ve spent your time in that way and making plans to change it can come later.
2 | Find Triggers
It can be easy to go a few hours, especially the first time you track your time, without recording anything. Then you have to resort to guessing which makes your time log less accurate. The best way to avoid this is to have triggers that frequently remind you to record your activities. This could be a simple beep every 15 minutes from your phone. You could also use a regular activity that happens a few times during the day to remind you.
3 | Use Categories
Before you start tracking your time, it’s useful to jot down what you do on a weekly basis. And then try and group those activities into categories. Say for example that your usual mode of travel to work is by car, but sometimes you walk or get the bus; these could all be logged as commuting on your time tracker sheet. This will give you a broader bird’s eye view when you analyse your records.
4 | Colour Code
There are an abundance of electronic methods and apps available to track your time, however I am a fan of good ol’ pen and paper. Colour coding makes it easier to review your sheets. Pastel colours work best, so you can still see your handwritten notes; try pink, yellow, pale green, light blue, lilac. If say, you used lilac to colour in all the slots when you slept, it would be very easy to see whether you had any daytime naps for example.
Triggers to fill it in - activities, timer goes off every 30mins
5 | Review & Reflect
The Hawthorne effect states that what is observed is changed, so the simple act of tracking your time will probably make you more aware and mindful of what you’re doing with your days and weeks. However, a more deliberate action of reviewing your time log means you can then make changes to support you doing things that match with the life you’d like to live.
Are you inspired to track your time? Have you tracked your time? What surprised you the most? Let me know in the comments below.