Most part of last year, I kept complaining to my best friend about how much I could do if I had more time for me. And he kept repeating – “You have time, Sony. You just haven’t realised it yet!”. And then, inspired by Laura Vanderkam [whose podcast “Before Breakfast” rocks, BTW], in January, I decided to track some of my time.
I had tried time-logging in the past and had miserably failed. So I chose a slightly different approach. Rather than tracking a 24-hour day, I decided to track specific activities like sleep, exercise, reading and working on many of my 20 in 2020 challenges. In short, I tracked only those intentional activities that I was spent on self-improvement.
My Fitbit band monitored my sleep duration automatically and for everything else, I used my Timeular tracker. And then, on a weekly basis, I manually entered my sleep times into the Timeular app. I reviewed this every single day to get a sense of how I was faring. So I reckon time-tracking pushed me to be a little extra productive. The app was a good reminder each morning as to how much of my time was being used productively. So instead of just tracking time, this became a self-improvement assignment.
The Good News
As you can see from the report above, in January, I spent an average of 66 hours each week on self-improvement (including sleep). This is good news because this is way better than I expected it to be. I had not been getting my full 8-hours of sleep. So excluding sleep, I spent about 21 hours each week on self-improvement. Far better than what I had initially envisaged!
Three activities that topped the charts are:
- Reading Books/Listening to Podcasts – 26 hours 20 minutes
- Bible Study – 19 hours 58 minutes
- Study Time (doing a part-time programming course) – 17 hours 55 minutes
This definitely puts a smile on my face. Also, these activities are part of my identity as a Christian, a Developer and a Lifelong Learner/Reader. Forgive my tooting my own trumpet, because I am just getting into the ugly bits of that time report. LOL!
The Bad News
Just as I was thrilled to see the areas I spent my time on, I was also disappointed by some of the areas, where I wished I had spent more time.
- I had set a goal to exercise for 20 hours each month. In January, I made it to only 15.5 hours. (Current: 15.5 Future: 20)
- Playing a musical instrument is supposed to be one of the most relaxing activity. And I have managed to only get in about 6 hours of music practice last month. I need to schedule in more time, because by the looks of it, what doesn’t get scheduled doesn’t get done! (Current: 6.25 Future: 14)
- I haven’t been spending enough time for my Spanish lessons. I need to be upping that at least to 8 hours a month. (Current: 3.75 Future: 8)
- The worst of it all: 2 hours 41 minutes of doodling !!! I don’t even know why I put that under sketching to start with. I need to be putting in a solid 10 hours to succeed in my Sketchbook Mini-Slam Challenge. (Current: 2.75 Future: 10)
Essentially this means I need to get in 24 more hours each week to be uber-productive. Putting in more time into these areas matter to me, not just because I am doing a 20 in 2020 challenge or because the report will look fancy next month.
But these activities would also add to my identity.
Sony - the hot polyglot
dabbler of music & art!
The Ugly News
On first glance, 292 hours of personal time for a month sounds lush. But let me reveal some numbers.
- Total Time in January = 744 (24 hours x 31 days)
- Time Spent at Work = 190 hours => ~ 45 hours each week
- Time Spent Sleeping = 200 hours => ~ 45 hours each week
- Time Spent on me = 92 hours => ~ 21 hours each week
- Time Unaccounted for = 262 hours => ~ 57 hours each week
Of course, some of that unaccounted time was spent fruitfully on socializing, attending classes, doing voluntary work and chores. But I am pretty sure a huge chunk of that went into browsing the internet, scrolling through social media feeds, writing blog posts like these and binge-watching You – Season 2 (don’t judge!). This is all useful information. Because now I know, I can repurpose, if I choose to, 24 of those 57 hours and put them to better use.
Lessons from my Time Report
Firstly, the numbers have completely changed my mindset. I have a lot of time for me, I just hadn’t realised that last year. Secondly, I can see a lot of scope for improvement (yes, I am eyeing you, 57 unaccounted hours). I am not going to set false expectations, though. There is no way I am going to move 24 hours into my productive time bucket in a month. But I can start with a few simple actions:
- Increase my exercise time to 20 hours (maybe I can schedule in some walks while I read or while catching up with a friend on the phone)
- Increase my Spanish study time by 1 hour by including a few extra minutes every night for revision
- Use sketching and music practice to take my mind off things instead of passive TV watching
Using the Timeular tracker and app definitely helped me do this exercise. I intend to continue tracking these activities for the rest of this quarter. If you would like to do a similar activity but do not want to spend money buying additional devices or trackers, I highly recommend Toggl. It is completely free and you can track your time from a mobile device.