What Jo learnt about herself from time tracking

What Jo learnt about herself from time tracking

Last week, Lucy shared what she learnt from time tracking for two weeks ahead of our interview with author Laura Vanderkam.  This week, it’s my turn!

It couldn’t be hard right? I have been time tracking on and off for over 15 years as a lawyer. And I might learn something. So nothing to lose with a little time tracking experiment Laura Vanderkam style. Here’s what I learnt.

I made it too hard for yourself

Set your expectations low when you start time tracking! Don’t go all out thinking you are going to record 15 minute increments for a whole month, or even a whole week. Just start with a day.

I thought time tracking would be easy for me. As a lawyer I recorded 6 minute increments of time for at least 7.5 hours each day I worked between 2001 and 2016. Since then I’ve been way more casual about it while running my own business. And therein lay part of the problem. I’d made a conscious decision to try to stop time tracking at work and I found it left me with an unconscious, strong resistance to doing it for my personal life.

So I only properly completed about 2 days, sort of did another 5 days and then gave up halfway through my 2 week experiment – which left me feeling like I’d failed.

So in addition to doing one day at a time, also decide how much detail you want to record. If you want to record 15 minute intervals, then maybe one day is definitely enough. And a tip from Laura herself – stop and record a specific number of times during the day (eg. 4 times per day) rather than trying to record after every activity.

Time doesn’t just disappear

Even when you can’t remember what you did with your time – you did do something. Even if it was travelling down rabbit holes on Facebook.

It is important to know where you are spending your time – not just at work – because it is so easy to spend time on things that aren’t important. And that’s what I was doing! Too many nights sitting on the couch aimlessly scrolling or watching crappy TV I wasn’t even interested in. There are many things I would rather be doing – talking to my husband, reading a good book (I have enough!) or sewing. Tracking made me realise I need to be more conscious of how I am spending my time.

I need more structure in my life

In my aim for flexibility I think I have given up a bit too much structure. I seem to chop and change way too many times between different activities – from kids, to housework, to volunteer duties to client work etc. This means I spend a lot of time trying to reset my brain to think about the next task. So much better to focus on one thing for a longer period of time.

Also, I want the structure so that I have some boundaries around some important times with my children. Too often I feel like time with them gets hijacking with other things – whether its household tasks or business tasks. My family are my number one priority so I need to make sure my schedule recognises that.

Did you give time tracking a go after listening to our interview with Laura Vanderkam? If so, we’d love to know what you learnt. Join our Facebook community and let us know.

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