I tracked my time for one week

photo credit: Green Chameleon via Unsplash

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”).

Surprising insights

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?

  1. I think I watch less tv than the average person, and even less than usual lately as Paul is insisting we sit in his room until he falls asleep so I lost the 30-60 minutes that I used to spend watching a show with Phil after he was in bed. Now we can only do that on the weekend (he doesn’t nap on the weekends so he falls asleep really quickly on Sat and Sun night!). I have 3 shows I watch on my own (Top Chef, This is Us, A Million Little Things) but Phil doesn’t care for them, so I fit them at times when he isn’t around – like nights he is doing Paul’s bedtime, when I eat lunch on days I WFH, etc. We used to watch Wheels of Fortune with Paul but we’ve been playing in the basement or outside lately so rarely watch that anymore either. Phil watches the news at the end of the day but I’m already in bed at that point!

    I didn’t track time spent with Phil either. It would be a tough thing to track. We spend a lot of time together with the kids – it’s not the same as alone time together but in this stage of life, it’s not realistic for us to get much alone time together, especially with the bedtime challenges we are having with Paul! We are taking a day off together in 2 weeks to celebrate our anniversary. We figured that would be easier than trying to hire a sitter. So I am glad we are doing that and ideally, we should try to do that throughout the year, but that takes planning and Phil is not a planner by nature!

  2. I really love this idea. Although I have never tracked my time, I have made a real effort to spend less time on social media this year because it’s such a time suck!

  3. Fellow iPad holdout here! I have a laptop and a phone and a kindle — I just don’t see what an iPad would do that I don’t already have?

    I am finding these time charts so fascinating! I would guess that I watch TV on average an hour a night. That’s usually how my husband and I unwind after the day, and we usually (grimace emoji) eat in front of the TV too. I sort of wish I could break us of this habit, but also I love TV.

  4. I barely watch TV, but I have been watching a few episodes here and there of Schitt’s Creek. As for quality time together…that is a tough question. Maybe when we are watching Schitt’s Creek? Having sex when the boys aren’t home? Me reading after dinner while he watches sports? That kind of sums things up. Although we do have dinner together every night, and go for long walks a couple of times a week, I’m going to include those.

  5. Same for me and my husband with quality time. We’re both pretty laid back about that and don’t feel the need to do something big, like a date night. But we’re also child free so I’m sure that changes our perspective. The only other beings occupying our time are our pups and they’re nowhere near as exhausting as kids are. We’re also homebodies, I work from home, and hubby is a teacher, so it’s pretty easy to squeeze in moments of good spontaneous conversation, laughter, and “family” time, as opposed to putting it on a calendar.

  6. Were it not for my husband my TV viewing each week would be approximately 0. But he LOVES media, so on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings we watch several hours of something (documentaries are a mutual favourite). So I probably watch 5-6 hours a week? More than I’d like, but it is a nice point of connection for us.
    I don’t track time with my husband (or the kids), but it’s…a lot. We both work from home (and he’s currently on a sabbatical), so we spend A LOT of time together. We exercise together daily, eat lunch together, putter around at home and do errands (groceries etc) together.
    I was surprised how little time you spent cooking – you’re clearly efficient and I agree with the simple food. Good, whole food doesn’t have to be complicated to be so rewarding and delicious! Your food pictures always make me drool

  7. These types of posts are fascinating and I think I’m going to do one soon. I also think your meal prep time is pretty amazing – I feel like I spend most of my life in the kitchen!

    I am not a huge television watcher, but my husband and I are doing a Buffy/Angel rewatch and so we’re probably averaging an hour and a half every evening right now. It’s been cutting down dramatically on my reading time, so that’s the tradeoff I’m making, I guess. I call it quality time with my husband, though, because we end up talking about the episodes a lot.

  8. Love this post. I have tracked my time before, but it has been a long time. I also find it a little…confusing, sometimes. I likely overthink it. But I just feel like it can be hard to categorize certain things! For example, if I’m listening to a podcast while prepping dinner….I feel like I want to equally capture that as “podcast/ leisure” time-because I love listening to podcasts!- PLUS of course the dinner prep, which I would probably call ‘household duties” or something. But if I just put the 2nd category, then it looks like I didn’t listen to a podcast! haha.

    There are also many, many times where things with the kids overlap with other categories. Off the top of my head, say, I’m folding towels, but also having a great conversation with one of the boys. That would be “quality time”/ or kid time, in my opinion, but also….a chore. I know it doesn’t have to be that granular, but that’s just where I get tripped up.

    I love the idea of doing it though. I think it is an eye-opening exercise. I know the times I have tracked, I’m a bit appalled at how much time I kind of flit away on my phone, computer or just misc. random stuff. I agree that all that laptop time can really add up. I think if I track again, I might separate that out- like budget work would be “household”, blog reading would be “leisure”, or something. I also like the idea of actually tracking how much time I do spend blogging/ commenting, etc! I don’t have a great concept of that. I also tend to read blogs (and check social media) in very small snippets of time, either on my phone or on a work break. But those minutes are still minutes! And I suppose they may add up to more than I think. Great post San!! Maybe eventually I’ll borrow it and do my own. :)

  9. This is so interesting and a great way of figuring out where the time goes!
    I was amazed how much time I was spending on Insta when I looked recently. Then I wonder why the time flies! I’d love to see exactly what I’m spending my time on and this looks like a great way.

  10. WOW I have never considered doing this. What an eye opener!!

  11. So interesting to see. Makes me winder how I spend my time but than maybe I font want yo know. I usually watch a lot of tv but since the move I haven’t turned it on for weeks. I very much enjoy it this way.

  12. I’m so glad you did this, too! It’s a fascinating experiment to see how much time we have in a typical week. I don’t think I watch a ton of TV – maybe an hour on weeknights and 1-2 hours on weekends, depending. It takes me forever to get through a season of a TV show because I just don’t watch a ton of TV. I always think there’s something better I can be doing with my time, ha.

  13. This is a pretty fascinating exercise. Not sure I could do it, but I might have to give it a go… I do know my tv time would be 0, and my sleep time would definitely not hit 7 hours. Sigh. I just… can’t sleep most nights, which stinks. I do own an ipad but use it mostly for reading – otherwise, I just use my laptop (work or home) to do other computer stuff. Are you planning to track consistently? On a schedule? I know you love data – and longitudinal data are even better. ;)

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