I’m no productivity guru, but I want to tell you why you should track your time. When you track your time, you find where you’re wasting minutes and what you can cut out of your day.

Why You Should Track Your Time

Original photo by Georgia de Lotz

I’ve written before about how busy is a choice, and I staunchly believe it. I’m not one of those cretins who will tell you that there are 24 usable hours in a day, because you do need to sleep and eat and be a person with actual human connections. But I will tell you that there is enough time to do everything you want to do.

(Pssst! Have you seen my video about how to get stuff done?)

I wrote last week about how I’ve been using highlighters in my Passion Planner, and how it’s helped me like crazy. While my system may not work for you, I still think you should try to track your time.

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Why You Should Track Your Time

001: To see how you use it.

This may sound dumb to some people, but I have no idea how you can remember what you did in the morning after a long workday. So, if you write down how you used each hour, it’ll be easier to see how you’re spending your time. When I first did this, I was kind of disgusted by how much time was spent watching nail art videos on YouTube. (If you know me in real life, you know I have the shortest, grubbiest nails that are rarely painted, so I’m not sure why I was watching these.)

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Time can easily get away from you, especially if you have a smart phone and all manner of entertaining apps at your fingertips. Or if you sit down for a second just to watch TV. But if you actively track your time, I promise you’re going to see all the spaces where you can add a little something something to get you on the right track.

002: To see where you can be more productive.

I’m notorious for not cleaning my house. I live alone, and it’s not like I make huge messes. Mostly, I just need to run the vacuum 2-3 times a week, and spray down the bathtub with some cleaner. But this meant that I wasn’t making time to do the dishes, which, admittedly, were 97% mugs.

So, I’ve realized where there is more time in my day than I thought, and I’ve made dishwashing a priority 3 days a week. (I will never be the type of person who washes daily, especially while I live in a house without a dishwasher.) But just realizing that there are 3 specific days where I can wash the dishes without feeling rushed or like I’ve done too much that day has been a huge game changer.

Also, if you want a simple way to get stuff done, check out this post about the two minute list from Life with Dee. It’ll help you cross those little tasks off your list.

003: To see where you’re lying to yourself.

I used to think that there wasn’t enough time in the day to work full-time, blog, vlog, write fiction, have friends and family, walk the dog, and just be a happy well-adjusted person. Well, that was wrong. I’m currently teaching full-time plus an extra class this semester, posting twice a week on this blog, posting a vlog once a week, working on a novel, having friends and family that I actively see, and walking Rosie, though not as much as she believes she deserves. (She’s spoiled.)

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So, what changed? Well, I realized that I was lying about how I used my time. I thought I was being productive, and it turns out I was spending oodles of time watching Netflix and scrolling through Instagram. And it would also turn out that my dream has nothing to do with being a person who professionally watches Netflix or scrolls through Instagram.

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004: To see what you can completely cut out.

I didn’t do anything extreme when it comes to cutting stuff out. I’m not about to cancel Netflix or delete my Instagram. Instead, I stay mindful of when I use those things. I don’t open Netflix on a weekday, and when I do open it, I only allow myself to watch 30 minutes of whatever show. This means I watch a lot of half episodes, but that’s okay. It makes good shows last longer.

And while I use Instagram daily, I try to limit it to blocks of time that don’t have something designated for them in my planner. So, I may scroll for a bit in the morning while the space heater is warming the bathroom for my shower. Or I may get in 5 good scroll minutes while I slowly wake up from an afternoon nap. But I did cut out huge blocks of time where I wasn’t getting stuff done. And that has been like solid gold.

005: To get more stuff done.

Okay. If the rest of this post hasn’t convinced you, I don’t really know what will. Tracking my time has been an eye opener, and I’m so glad I did it. I’ve been more productive lately than I have ever been, and I honestly feel like I’ve basically cracked the code on being a grown up and getting shit done.

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Have You Ever Tracked Your Time?

Okay. Tell me. Do you track your time? Are you afraid of finding out how much time you spend on nonsense tasks? How do you think tracking your time would change your perception of how you use your day? What’s one thing you’d like to find out about yourself by tracking your time?

9 Responses

  1. I know how horrible my day would look if I tracked my time. I was just reading a book that talked about this…and you would think I was trying to be a master of mindless scrolling. It’s odd because I’m naturally a very hyper person, who is easily bored, and my smart phone took over for productively looking for reasons to move. It’s probably partially responsible for weight gain too! Instead of being bored and jumping up to so something, I serve my hyper-mind a constant stream of cyber shit! ? Great post

    1. Oh man! It’s criminal how app companies snare you into scrolling all day with all their psychological tricks.

  2. I feel like you are becoming a productivity guru, but in a totally good way. I have the passion planner, but I haven’t really used it yet because I don’t think I actually do enough to warrant tracking my time. This post has given me a few things to consider.

    1. Thanks, lady! And I’ve been trying to track my bad habits more—you know, when I sit down to do one thing but totally space out and do another. It keeps me honest about where my time goes.

  3. Not a productivity guru my ass. Your tips and suggestions have been insanely helpful over the last few months. I have learned so much.

    I definitely agree that busy is a choice. I used to be friends with people who made umpteen excuses about why they couldn’t meet for coffee. I finally realized 2 things 1: They really didn’t want to spend time with me and 2. They glorified busy as if it were some amazing thing. Nope, nope, nope. I like to be productive and have things to do during the day (since it does help me keep track of time), but I don’t want to be so loaded down that I whine and complain or that I have no time for friends and family.

    1. That’s such a good point! And there’s no reason to do a ton of work if you can’t enjoy the fruits of your labors with the people you love.

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