Whenever I’m starting a new project, I undergo a process where I track the time I spent completing basic activities in life. Every. Single. Minute. I do so according to general categories (e.g., Sleeping, Personal Care, Work, Leisure Time, etc.) just like I would when budgeting my income. Sometimes I track time spent for just a week, sometimes two, sometimes three.
I created this tracking process as a data-driven approach to allow you to KNOW precisely where you are spending your time so that you can then implement strategies to master it. Once you see your time spent in a visual way, then you can pinpoint where to make changes and use this information to establish an action plan and re-focus on when you can realistically complete your goal.
Unlike money, however, we all have the same fixed amount of time to accomplish the things we want. There are 1,440 minutes in a day totaling up to 168 hours per week and the best management of those hours depends on your:
- commitment to plans that are flexible and adaptable on the fly;
- determination of which activities are fixed and which are flexible;
- realistic expectations about how much time you need;
- ability to break tasks into the smallest units;
- love for routinization; and
- reward system for time well spent to keep you motivated.
- I created the Master Your Time Tracker with the hopes that you’d use it to:
1. Learn where your time is going. In the template, you will see an example of a week during my Ph.D. program where I tracked 45 hours spent sleeping, 40 hours working my 9-5 job, 8 hours commuting to and from work, and 20 hours teaching at the university (including prep time, emails, grading, office hours). After all that, I only had 55 hours left to work on my own research, study for the class I was taking, and spend time with my family and friends.
2. Keep you focused on what matters most. I clearly love to work. If you count my teaching side hustle, I spent 60 hours working – 15 more than sleeping! I also learned that the next non-working chunk of time (14 hours) was spent on meals/eating, which is an important way for me to connect with my family and friends while accomplishing a much-needed task of nourishing my body.
3. Visualize how you want to MASTER your time. So much of our time is spent unconsciously. Imagine if we operated like that with our money? In fact, many people do. Doing so leaves us vulnerable to time robbers, like the random 45 minutes I spent chatting with friends on Facebook messenger I hadn’t talk to in a while or the 4 hours in the template example that are unaccounted for. To get unstuck, we can use visualization techniques to move beyond where we are to get to where we want to be.
To download the free Master Your Time Tracker, subscribe to our mailing list. If you think it’s useful, please share widely with others. Once you do track your time and take action to master it, how did it work for you? To answer this question, connect with me through direct messages or shoutouts on two of my favorite social media platforms, LinkedIn and Twitter.