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Tracking Time

Updated: Jan 12

How you spend your time? Time is our most precious resource, yet rarely do we devote energy to truly understanding how we spend it.

In 2012 I kept a time log so I could bill my hours. Through tracking my time I was truly shocked that despite nonstop, stressful 8-hour days, only about half that time was spent doing billable work! 5 minutes spent throwing laundry in the washer led to 20 – 30 more minutes to dry it, fold it, and put it away. Welcoming my kids home from school and getting them settled took at least 20 – 30 minutes. I was crazy busy but not productive.

I changed my approach. By focusing time on work, I finished in half the time. I paired chores with enjoyable activities instead of sneaking them in. This helped me be more fully present and relaxed with my family.

What we measure we can manage. In The Effective Executive Peter Drucker recommends keeping an hourly time log for 3 – 4 weeks. Use this information in conjunction with tools like the Eisenhower Matrix, the Pomodoro Technique, defining done, etc. to maximize their impact.

How much time do you devote to the truly important? How does your concentration and energy vary by time of the day and type of activity? How much time is wasted on your phone, email, or social media? Can you cluster 5-to-15-minute downtime periods so you create a meaningful rest period, time for a walk, time for another activity? The better you understand yourself and how you spend your time, the more effectively you can manage both.

Next Steps:

What idea in here is worth experimenting with?

What low hanging fruit comes to mind?

What would change for you if you felt more in control of your time?

If you google tracking time use, you’ll find many apps to help with this.


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