60 Weeks to 60 — Week 13: Time to get real about how I really spend my time.

This week I’m going to be really honest with myself… I’m going to track what I do each hour of each day. Starting with the moment I get up in the morning to the moment I go to sleep, I will keep track of my activities.

There is a growing movement around this type of time tracking, and dozens of activity tracking apps. I’m going to do this very simply, with a homemade Google spreadsheet. If I find this exercise useful, I’ll consider finding an app I like to continue the exercise.

I wrote in Insight Out:

There are twenty-four hours in a day. If you sleep eight of those hours and spend five hours on personal needs such as eating and bathing, you’re left with eleven hours each day. That’s seventy-seven hours a week. If you spend fifty hours each week working and commuting, you’re still left with twenty-seven hours each week, or over fourteen hundred hours a year. That’s an awful lot of time to spend as you wish!

In fact, time is the great equalizer… nobody has any more time each day than anyone else. Everyone, from poets to presidents, fills those hours, one after the other, until they are all filled up. Every single minute is unique, and once gone, can never be regained.

So, it’s time to get real about how I use my time. Here is a simple template I will use:

At the end of each hour, I will take a few minutes to capture what I did during that time. My guess is that the act of capturing what I do will change what I choose to do. It is much easier to slack off if nobody is watching, even yourself. :)

I will share my week of activities and reflections on tracking them, and invite others to do the same… It’s 7:07 AM, and time for me to get on to my email!

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Day 1: My schedule during the work week is filled with lots of meetings, lectures, and calls, so filling out this spreadsheet is not so different from annotating my calendar. And, as expected, when there is blank space on my calendar, I’m replying to email. As the week progresses, I will explore the possibility of doing something different — besides email — when I have free spaces in my schedule.

Day 2: OK… I’m two days in and I really don’t like time tracking to monitor what I am doing every hour. I’ve already done 12 weeks of challenges for my 60 Weeks to 60 project, and this is the first one I will stop early. There are lots of reasons, but the most salient is that monitoring my behavior in hourly increments makes me feel as though I am policing myself, and I don’t enjoy either side of that equation. On to another challenge!