In This Episode…
I mentioned a couple of days ago that I was going to start tracking my time again. After a couple of days of data I thought I’d share what I’ve discovered and reflect on the value of doing this exercise.
Episode Show Notes…
Tracking My Time – How Am I Doing?
So it’s been two days since I started tracking my time again. It has taken me that time to get back up to speed with what to do as it is some time since I’ve done it.
I had a brief run of tracking time back in June and then before that I have to go all the way back to last year not long after I started this podcast.
My approach is quite simple.
I simply make a note very time I change tasks. I record the time and what activity I have switched to into a Google Sheet.
I like doing it that way because I can access the document from any of my devices. So it doesn’t matter whether I am at my standing desk in the office, on my iPad in my lounge or out on the road with my iPhone.
Last year I got a tremendous amount out of doing it. So much so I did it for 18 weeks.
The beauty of tracking your time in this way is that it focuses you attention and once you have captured the data – it doesn’t lie.
If you asked me at the end of the day how productive I have been when I’m not tracking my time then my assessment is very subjective.
If I’ve been busy then I’m likely to say that I have been quite productive and might even be confident enough to put a figure on it.
However it is subjective. Busy-ness is no indicator of productivity.
So doing the exercise creates a good set of data to use to relatively objectively assess how productive you are being.
However what I’ve found is it is very difficult to separate the observed from the observer.
Just starting to track the time a couple of days ago made me hugely self conscious of how I was using my time.
I found myself doing things quicker, choosing tasks that were associated with my main thing and being very conscious of time passing by especially when I was doing things that clearly weren’t work related.
But even with that level of time awareness, as I review the two days I have got data for now, I am disappointed but not surprise that things are not good.
I am definitely shifting from task to task far more often than I would like.
I am also choosing distraction type activities masquerading as work – simple and easy things that allow me to feel like I am being productive.
I am not going to do a detailed analysis as I only have two days of data because the feedback so far has given me enough of a kick to remind me things have to change.
Yesterday I worked out where all my “rocks” are on my schedule and so I’ll get more meaningful data when I track my time in the context of that matrix.
An Example Of TTA – Time Track Awareness
I mentioned that tracking your time automatically increases your self awareness about what you are doing with your time.
As an example, yesterday morning I had to go on to my computer to check something when I started work yesterday. The browser was open at my Gmail account and I noticed an email from a fellow speaker.
So I opened it up and it was one of those 2 minute response emails. I started typing out a reply there and then.
I’d got sucked into the e mail elephant and had been seduced by the allure of a quick hit of dopamine. This addiction is often masked by having a distorted sense of urgency and Go-Gett-ism that means I deal with everything that crosses my path without really thinking about it.
This was one of those things.
I realised what I was doing and caught myself after about 30 seconds of typing…and so I stopped.
I retreated from the dopamine driven commitment I’d made to the task and reverted to my original reason for opening up the MAC.
Had I not been tracking my time, I would not have noticed.
Now you might think there is a case for finishing that task.
You could be right.
But for me it was more important to interrupt the pattern and return to my original intended task.