“We manage what we measure”… so goes the old saying. Here is a new tool to measure how you spend your time.
For months I have felt like I have been too busy to spend time on the things I really care about. A lot of ideas seem to have been permanently “on hold” – my todo lists have seemingly been continually growing, and for months I have been feeling overwhelmed and time poor.
I decided to do some real measuring and find out what was consuming my time. This came about after reading an interesting article over at Quantified Self about how shocked and surprised students were after tracking their hourly activities for a week.
The idea was to track down where all that time goes and then to decide if these various endeavours were worth that kind of commitment. This would also be an opportunity to compare the reality to how I imagined I was spending my life.
Hence, Supernifty’s Hourly Tracker was born. This online tool provides an easy way to track what you do each hour of the day for a week.
You can add any activity you want to track. As you can see from the image, you get a decent overview of where the time goes, including some interesting analysis on the right.
If you track yourself for more than a week, there is Historical Analysis.
Check out an overall picture of how you are spending your time, or focus on a particular activity:
It’s been an eye-opening experience – I’d recommend everyone try tracking their time for at least one full week. Some things I learnt:
First of all, it’s clear why many people try to find ways of living with less sleep – for instance the polyphasic movement – sleep takes up a huge chunk of anyone’s life, dwarfing all other activities.
It’s also clear why I often feel tired – I don’t get enough sleep. Using this tool enabled me to confirm this suspicion.
More time conscious
As with other tracking efforts – such as taking a photo of everything you eat – the act of recording makes you more conscious of how you spend your time. If I start wasting time on the internet I am reminded that I will be recording this.
I’ve become much more aware of wasteful activities.
Finally, I discovered the cause of my constant feeling of too much to do: mornings. I’d spend mornings catching up on email, reading blogs and researching random items of interest – generally procastinating – before finally getting stuck into work. This would set the scene for a stressful remaining day.
By the end of the day, I’d still feel that I needed to get more work done. I’d have a late night and then be tired in the morning, thus repeating the cycle.
Using this tool I have learnt that I need to focus on having a productive morning.
Ideas for improvements are welcomed – please get in touch! Some things that are in the pipeline:
- Recommendations – for example, exercising every day or getting more sleep
- Daily Goals – a daily goal tracker is at the bottom of the page. It’s functional but the analysis is still in development
Try tracking your time, just for a week. I gained significant insights and confirmed things that previously were vague suspicions.