My friend Lisa recently shared a post about what she had learned from tracking her time for a week (and then Stephany followed) and you guys, I can’t lie, it got me super-intrigued. Not just because I am a sucker for data + spreadsheets, but have you counted lately how often I wonder “where the time goes”? (Don’t answer that. Too many times.) And if you’ve been reading here for a while, you probably also know that “if something can be measured, I want it measured”. So, tracking time seems like a genius idea to me. Duh. Why didn’t I think of that? I mean, yes, let’s see where it actually goes on a weekly basis.
For someone who complains (to themselves mostly) that there is always so much to do and so little time, time management is everything. Using time wisely and also prioritizing the ‘right’ things is imperative (which can be a challenge in and of itself sometimes. Doom-scrolling, I am looking at you. Satisfying in the moment, major time and energy drain in the long run!). But you can’t change things that you are not – or only slightly – aware of, amirite? Might this be the tool that I’ve been looking for all along?
Anyway, once intrigued, I set out to track my time for a week and these are the results. I worked in Laura Vanderkam’s 168 Hours time management worksheet and logged my time in 15 minute increments for a week. I think it would have been fine to use the 30-minute worksheet, as I don’t think the extra granularity was really necessary, but for my first time, I wanted to be as specific as possible and for some things (like my morning meditation) the 15-min blocks worked really well, as otherwise I would have had to lump it together with my “morning routine”.
As you can see, I used a lot of different categories, which I literally came up with along the way. I am sure you could adjust the number of categories up or down, and I might rethink the categories altogether, if I decide to track another week of my time in the future. But for now, here are some take-aways.
I spend about 60% of my week sleeping and working.
I aim for 7.5 hours of sleep every night and according to the sleep cycle app (which I have been using for quite a while), I do hit that average. During this particular week, I even averaged 8.5 hours, which I overall take as a positive sign (even though I felt like I was tired more and napped more, I think 8.5 hours are generally a healthy amount of sleep and I am not oversleeping).
Work takes up a considerate amount of time each week and I am not surprised by that. We all know – and feel – that full-time work eats up a lot of hours (even more so now that I work from home, when it easy to keep working” for “just a few more minutes”).
The more surprising – or should I say interesting – insights for me where the following:
- I watched very little TV (mostly news) compared to other people (only 1.5 hours total),
- reading time was up (yay!),
- and I spent a good chunk of my time exercising (and I am definitely prioritizing that).
But my third biggest slice of time was spent puttering around on my computer. This might not be as surprising to people like you, who also write and read blogs, but I’d gather most people spend most of their time on their phones or tablets outside of work. I think I am one of the few people, who still don’t own an iPad, because I feel that anything I don’t want to do on my phone, I prefer to do on my laptop, and vice versa. I read and write blog posts, I work on our budget and other spreadsheets, I research things, and most of this is done in small chunks during the week and bigger chunks on the weekend. If there is nothing else to do, I can spend a whole Saturday morning, sometimes well into the afternoon just “working” on my laptop.
I also listed “FaceTime” as a separate category, and while I am generally not a huge fan of “phone calls”, I do usually FaceTime with my family 3-4x per week and it’s been a lifesaver during the pandemic. I should be counting this as my “social time”.
I spent about 16 hours doing the mundane every-day, adult stuff like getting myself ready in the morning (and at night), cooking, eating, cleaning, and puttering around the house. That seems like a big chunk of my weekly time but also not terrible. Well, and it’s not like these things are negotiable; they need to be done. And while I always talk about how much I love cooking, we really don’t spend hours upon hours in the kitchen. We do like to be efficient and cook simple, quick meals most days.
Things I am curious about
I would like to look a bit more into my phone use, because I use my phone more than just for social media. However, I pick it up so frequently for all kind of different things that it’s hard to track this through this type of analysis, so I really just tried to track when I spent more than a couple of minutes on my social media apps to “catch up” on purpose. I should probably dig a little deeper into my screen time stats for better understanding these habits.
Another thing I didn’t track is quality time with Jon. I don’t even know how I would define that right now as it feels like we’re together all the time these days (with me working from home), but at the same time don’t really “do” things together (unless you count relaxing on the couch in the evenings, or going for walks). I am hoping to be able to plan more outings and weekend trips again this summer.
How many hours do you watch TV? If you live with a partner, how do you measure your quality time together?