It is very easy to waste time. Even a few minutes can go wasted without being aware of it. But, how do you know whether or not you are spending your time efficiently. With 24 hours in a day and 5 weekdays, you have plenty of hours available and how you choose to spend those hours is up to you, but as it is a precious currency, it would be unfortunate if time wasn’t used efficiently.
To figure out how well I am allocating my time, I have decided to time log my activities each day between Monday to Friday and then generate a report to visualize my results. By logging my time, I would get a better understanding of myself and my time management skills.
How to Log Your Time
There are numerous apps available for logging your time. For this project, I decided to use a mobile app called aTimeLoggr because it is easy to use and offers all the features I need.
With aTimeLoggr, you can create activities to record time for. Activities are the things you do daily or occasionally. For me, activities will fit under one of the three following categories:
Every Day Activities
These are activities that are done on a daily basis such as working and sleeping. For the most part, I cannot control the amount of time spent on these activities, so they will reduce the amount of free time I have available for the week, but they must be done regardless.
These activities are done during my free time to improve my life in some way and are done occasionally. Working out, reading and self-teaching would be examples of activities that fall under this category.
As you could guess, these are activities that are fun such as gaming. It is good to have fun every once in a while, but too much time spent on these activities would be time I could have spent on more productive activities. I am curious to see how much time is allocated to these activities.
Once the activities have been created, it is now time to record the time spent. aTimeLoggr allows you to select an activity to record time for and then start recording but sometimes I forget to do that. Instead, I can manually add time entries to the app for each activity. For the next 5 days, I took a few minutes out of my day to input my entries for the day.
Below is an example of the time I spent on each activity for one of the weeks I tracked time for. I tracked the time spent between Monday to Friday.
As expected, most of my time was occupied by the daily activities such as work and sleep. Commuting is also another activity that I cannot control. With a total of 120 hours available between Monday to Friday and about 76 of it already being used, that leaves me with 42 hours left to spend. However, a fraction of it is spent on every day tasks like showering and eating. That leaves me with about 33 hours left to spare.
In regards to being productive, I did not spend as much time on being productive as I would like to be. I only spent half an hour self-teaching a new skill and only three and a half hours on working on side projects. On top of that, I spent quite some time on more leisurely activities such as being on my phone, and watching shows, and I especially spent a lot of time gaming. While doing these activities are fine, wasting too much time on these activities is detrimental and it would be worth addressing these issues.
So, What Now?
Now that I have the data, I can figure out what I am spending enough time on, but also what I am spending too much time on and what I need to spend more time on. While I cannot control activities that I need to do every day such as work and sleeping, I can certainly change the way I spend my free time. For example, I could reduce the time I spend gaming and spend that time on self-teaching instead. To do this, here are some suggestions I have come up with to better manage your time.
Continue to Log Time
Logging data does two things. One, it provides data to give you an insight on how you are spending your time and determine whether or not you are managing your time properly by breaking down the time you have available into individual components. That way, you can pinpoint which activities you need to spend more time on and which activities you need to cut down on. Just be sure to log your time and update your progress when possible to ensure accuracy.
Schedule Your Day
Most people stick to a schedule to ensure a structured life. Assuming you are in control of most of your day, consider creating blocks of time for each activity. For example, you can allocate a couple of hours for one task and a couple of hours for another. Then stick to the schedule and know when to start and stop each activity. This is not an ideal technique if you have a lot unforeseen events however. To learn about effective time blocking, this article might help you get a good start.
Use Tools to Cap Your Time Spent
If you have problems with self-control, you can also consider using tools that purposely restrict activities that are disruptive to your productivity. One tool I have used in the past is HabitLab, which is a browser extension that uses a variety of features to limit the amount of time wasted. Another popular app is Forest, which uses the Pomodoro Technique to forces you to leave the app open on your phone while you work. In return, you get to grow a tree and visualize your progress. There are other tools out there, so you are free to explore and experiment.
In the end, I got a better picture of what a week would look like for me. I determined how much free time I had and how I spent it. With this information, I can formulate a plan to spend more time on productive activities and cut down on activities that I need to spend less time on. If you are in a similar situation as I was, consider time logging your activities yourself and see what you can learn. You will then need to adjust your approach as necessary and hopefully, see some results.