Sometimes practicing what you preach is easier said than done. Over the last couple weeks I have had every intention to tracking time, but I have yet to find the best way for me to do it continuously.
This gave me the brilliant idea, that if I, the organizer, can’t seem to do it, how can people a little less structured manage this seemingly simple task. Therefore, I want to share with you the ways that I tried to track my time and some ideas I have moving forward. Hopefully, you’ll be able to take some of those ideas and try them out for yourself to see what works and what doesn’t.
1. Small notebook and pen
The first technique I tried for tracking time consisted of carrying around a small notebook and pen. I tried by best to keep it with me everywhere I went. This worked pretty well for about 3 days. I would simply write the time I started something and what I was doing. Then when I started the next thing, I would write the time and what I was doing. If I was in a rush it was difficult to write down what I did or when I started. I would try to capture the general time frame I started and what I did after the fact.
What I really didn’t like was having to calculate how much time I spent on each thing. It seemed like a lot of unnecessary work. I know the intention of this process is to understand how much time you spend on any given thing. However, how much time do we waste in minute details? Is it worth the effort to know to the minute how much time we’re spending on Facebook, doing our hair, or making dinner? To me it was not — close estimates in tracking time work well enough.
The next tracking time technique that I tried was to simply write things down in my planner. I have a pretty large planner that I am trying to get back into using. Being so attached to my phone, I stopped using my planner as much. Utilizing the paper planner for tracking time worked for a few days. Unfortunately, because I am not in the habit of using my planner it was difficult.
If you follow my work, you know I regularly speak on small incremental changes. Going from never using the planner to writing in it hourly is too big a transition to function long term. It was helpful because I had a lot of the things written down on my schedule. Meaning I just needed to make additional notation between appointments. When I use my planner everyday this will be an easy and productive way of tracking time. Perhaps I can work on creating these two habits in conjunction with each other. That will have to be one step at a time.
The first idea I have to try for tracking time is to print out one full week. It will have a 5 or 7 day schedule on one piece of paper. The days will be separated into 30 minute increments. I would like to do 15 minutes, but I don’t know that I’ll be able to write anything in there. Ideally, I would print this out at the beginning of the week and set it up as my traveling paper planner. This way I have the full week, but do not have to carry around the big book.
Anything that is previously scheduled will be inputted and I can add big appointments as I go along to make the tracking easier. It should be easy enough to carry one piece of paper and a pen with me to most places. This should be especially easy if I can fold it up and put it in my phone. I can prep this sheet on Sunday night to start for Monday morning. The great thing is I can leave it right by my bedside table and start the day off immediately by tracking my morning routine. I can also better keep track of all of the snooze buttons that I keep hitting LOL.
The second tracking time idea is printing out a piece of paper that has one day of the week listed in increments of 15 to 30 minutes. I think this is going to be the most beneficial. I feel like if I can fold this paper up attach a pen to it and carrying around with me I should be able to track the things that I’m doing. Having only one day at a time allows for more room to make notes, give suggestions, and details about what I was doing.
The nice thing about this is if I plan ahead I can do this for each day of the week and write in all of the pre-scheduled activities that I have going on. Then each day I just need to make a notations around what is already scheduled. Again, if they’re printed out beforehand and pre-notated I can leave them by my bedside and each morning pick up a new days schedule. I think there is some benefit to only focusing on one day at a time. Perhaps it will be less stressful and a little bit more freeing not having to look at the full week schedule every time I go to write something down.
I am excited to give each of these a try and coming back and updating the pros and cons for each list! I encourage you to give them a try and let me know what you think. What worked for you? What didn’t? Do you have another option you like even better?? Please feel free to share!