The idea of tracking time in order to better understand our habits is not new. I first read about it several years ago and my curiosity peaked. Time tracking is a brilliant answer to the question, “What is it that I do during the day, exactly?” Beware: the answer might not look pretty, as people who have tried tracking learned just how much time they tend to spend on social media, texting with their friends, etc. It’s an honest, in-your-face way of learning about our habits and is a great mindfulness tool. A person who spends too much time watching TV might become more aware of his time after seeing the data before him on the screen or on paper. He might choose to list all the interests for which he has been complaining that he no longer finds time, and instead of spending three hours in the evening in front of the screen, he might decide to pick up one of the books that have been piling on his desk, or go to the gym.
It’s a perfect tool for creating awareness and I was eager to get in on the incentive, to understand my own habits a big better. Normally, it’s recommended that we track our time for a minimum of seven days. However (and this is where the story takes a different turn), I stopped after one day. Here’s why:
For three years, I worked part-time from home while taking care of my children. At that time, I could have benefited from tracking. These days, I have a very structured schedule and although I do have some freedom to navigate the fluctuations that inevitably arise, my routine is, more or less, the same on weekdays. On weekends, navigating around my usual commitments and responsibilities, there is some room for adventure. I do carve out ‘me’ time on a daily basis and treasure it because that time is limited.
I suppose it’s safe to say that I started the time tracking project without any expectations but quickly realized that it’s a tool that can best benefit someone who works from home or sets his or her own hours, whose day is less formally structured. Due to my ‘9-5’ schedule, I must stay in strict awareness of my workday hours in order to meet my commitments to myself and to my family. There is an external motivator that assists me in carefully allocating my time. Setting one’s own hours requires a greater level of personal discipline, which is precisely why I have the utmost respect for entrepreneurs.
What about technology? Given that I spend the majority of my workday plugged in, I unplug as often as I can when at home with my family. Recently, my practice has been to limit my social media activity to five minutes per day. I quickly check my accounts in the morning and leave them untouched for the remainder of the day. I do not normally watch TV, but one of my favourite ‘me’ time activities is to knit while listening to an interesting podcast. This is a balance with which I am pleased at this time.
Have you ever tracked your time? Did you find any of the results surprising / unsettling? Did you find the tool useful, or perhaps your experience was, similarly to mine, somewhat anticlimactic? Please leave a comment below, and thank you for sharing this blog with a friend!