How I invested 2,504 hours

In 2016, I invested 2,504 hours in work, which is 29% of the available 8,760 total hours we all have in one year. And approx. 237 days, or 65%, of the available 365 days I did some work.

Time is my most valued resource, more so than money. It is easy to track money, but tracking time has become more valuable for me now. I believe that awareness is the key to everything and without the awareness of how I’m investing my most valued resource (time), I have no idea if I’m making decisions that align with my values and intentions on a day-to-day basis.

At the start of 2016, I did my first time audit (for Q4 2015) and it was an eye opening exercise. I realized I was not aware of the realities of where I was investing my work time and fooling myself. This experience motivated me to track my work time all throughout 2016, which I did by making an entry at the end of each week in a simple spreadsheet pulling data from my calendar.

58.2 hours per week is on average how much I invested in work.

Here is a histogram (that looks like a New York skyline, where I also invested a lot of time, more on that below) of how many hours I invested per week throughout 52 weeks in 2016.

I invested a total of 2,504 hours in work last year. Taking out weeks I invested away from work (i.e. time off on vacation, etc.), that turns into an average of 58.2 hours per week. I normally did some work on one day during the weekend (i.e. either one of Saturday or Sunday), so if I worked an average of 5.5 days per week, that is 10.6 hours per day.

Reminder: the sample size for this data set is the entire year. I was consistent in tracking my investment for all 52 weeks.

48% of my days are invested on-the-road.

Only 52% of my time was invested in Toronto, although this surprised me as I thought it was even less. Perhaps being on the road constantly changed my perception of how much I was away, in that those days feel longer and stretched out where days in our Toronto office may go by faster. The “other” category is primarily London (where we have an office) and a few days in Silicon Valley.

57% invested in meetings with no single category more than 22%.

Quick legend of what is included in each of the above categories:

  • Sales Meetings is time invested with prospective customers
  • Partner Meetings is time invested with current customers (who we refer to as “partners” internally at Polar)
  • Internal Meetings is time invested with my team
  • Planning Activities is time invested on my laptop, working in presentations, documents, spreadsheets or Slack on activities related to the organization and strategy
  • GTM Activities is time invested in all go-to-market activities such as presentations, demo and meeting prep, press activities and various marketing programs
  • Corp Activities is time invested in building the corporation, including recruitment, business development and time with our Board

Here is the breakdown by category, by week. I invested a lot in other people. Makes sense given the leadership role that I play both in our industry and with our team. I enjoy it and get a lot of energy from it. 61% of my time was invested in market-facing activities, which also makes sense given my strengths and where I think I can contribute the most to our organization.

I’m proud that my total time invested in internal meetings was 21.5%, this is down considerably from 33% in Q4 2015 from my first time audit. We set the intention to reduce internal meetings at Polar in 2016 and our collective team data shows we were successful in doing so.

9 weeks invested “on the business” in 2016.

As an entrepreneur and leader, when I invest time away from work, it really means that I am investing time to work “on the business” versus “in the business”. When time away, it could be on vacation, courses or adventures (always disconnected, of course), my thoughts will float towards my vision for the market and business, our strategy to continue to grow and assessing how our values are guiding our behaviours and actions. Also it provides a chance to re-energize, re-focus, re-balance and reset for myself.

In 2016, I invested the equivalent of 215 business days (43 weeks) “in the business” and 45 business days (9 weeks) “on the business”. And the 45 days were spread out somewhat evenly throughout the year which I was proud of.

Note that the 45 business days away included statutory holidays (given our global offices in Canada, US, UK and Australia, I found that I did not stick to statutory holidays for any one country consistently).

9 weeks away sounds like a lot, and it is. I invested in taking time away more than anyone else on my team last year. And I doubt anyone came even close to me. Taking time away (and disconnecting) has become so important for me and I value the investment greatly. We have a flexible time away and vacation guideline at Polar, and leading by example is a key ingredient to cultivating the culture we are trying to build at our company.

Your turn.

I continue to track my time investment (and have changed up the categories for 2017) and encourage you to do your own as well. Here is a simple spreadsheet template (make a copy of it) that you can use yourself.

Note: There are many apps available that can help do this automatically but I prefer the “traditional approach” of doing it manually as it reinforces the theme of awareness, which is the point of this in the first place.

In addition to tracking how I invest my time at work, I also track my phone usage (thanks to an app I’ve become obsessed with) and my sleep and habits.

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Kunal Gupta is the Founder & CEO of Polar. He leads a talented team transforming the media publishing industry with technology. He is passionate about leadership and finding focus in a modern era. Connect with him on LinkedIn, Medium or Twitter.