Where does your time go?
I dedicated the month of January to tracking my time. I thought it would be an interesting exercise to see what I did with my days, because I'm always running out of time. It turned out to be a little more complicated than I thought. At first I tried just writing it on a piece of paper - this quickly got tedious, and I didn't always have the paper with me. I then tried a few APPs because I generally have my phone with me. After a few false starts I eventually settled on ATracker Pro. I had to buy the upgrade because the free version only gives you 6 categories and I needed more than that.
In the end I have 21 days of full tracking. There are a few hours unallocated (which I've allocated to 'Work' because that is when I most often forgot to change the category). I ended up with 6 main categories: Work, Personal (me time), Routine (getting, ready driving places by myself, and eating by myself), Household (boring normal tasks that keep the household in operation such as house work, grocery shopping and paying bills), sleeping and finally family time (this included driving any where with a family member, eating together or just hanging out).
This is the summary of hours by category, with the total hours over 21 days, and a daily average. I spent the most time working (160.86; Average 7.66hrs), followed closely by sleeping (159.01; Average 7.57hrs), and family time (101.03; Average 4.81hrs). Given that I'm really only supposed to work Monday to Friday, the average for 15 days of work is 10.72hrs per day. So in summary: I work enough hours to do a full days work 7 days a week; I average about 7.5hrs of sleep per night (I noticed that I don't get even sleep each day, but I catch up on other days); and I do spend a lot of time each day hanging out with my family; and not a lot of time doing household chores.
Here is my hour by hour breakdown. I realised about half way through the tracking that I didn't have a category for personal time (exercising, volunteering, mindfulness). It was therefore quite a few days before I finally did something in this category. In the end I averaged 0.33% per day (less than 30 minutes a day). This definitely needs improving. We need to plan in time to work on our mental health, physical fitness, and intellectual and spiritual pursuits.
Peter Lane, from Linked in, recommended I check out a blog on time and priorities by Bernie May. What a great blog - the idea of setting a timer for 5 minutes and just recording what you are doing at that point was a good idea (and would have avoided me missing the change in activity and going back to fix it). It is good to be able to monitor those minimal interruptions (like emails, or phone calls). I didn't really capture this.
Overall, there are a few things I need to change. But the lesson I learned most strongly was how often I am interrupted, or I interrupt myself and that this ruins a good work flow and hinders my ability to finish tasks. I've started working on this. I am also worried about the lack of downtime (though spending time with my family is really relaxing). If I've going to minimize my risk of chronic disease I need to prioritize physical activity and quiet time. It's 1:34am - I really must stop now and go to sleep.
What would your time study show you?