History That Never Was

Home of Dawn Vogel: Writer, Historian, Geek

Time Tracking

One of the most valuable takeaways I’ve gotten from the productivity and creativity classes I worked on earlier this year is the idea of time tracking. In my day job, we track the amount of time we spend on projects in 15-minutes increments, so it’s not something that was foreign to me. But the idea of tracking my personal time in 15-minute increments as well wasn’t something that occurred to me.

In doing this additional time tracking, I’ve learned all kinds of valuable things. How much I sleep and how long it takes me to become functional in the morning, for example. (It’s also let me track my middle-of-the-night insomnia, which was valuable when talking to my doctor about that issue and possible solutions.) But I’ve also identified things like the amount of time it takes to run the business side of my writing vs. the time I actually spend creating new words (like I talked about here). And if I opt to spend an evening playing a video game or watching videos on YouTube, I can see that block of time in my log.

The log I use is a Google Sheet that I downloaded from Laura Vanderkam’s site. Because I’m me, I color-code EVERYTHING. But it was also really easy to set up a generic week that reflects what my basic work and appointment schedule looks like, and then copy that weekly to update it for what my week will actually look like (adding in gaming and other events that may not be weekly). And now, after 12 weeks of tracking my time in this spreadsheet, it doesn’t feel like I’m actually functioning until it’s open in the morning!

If you want to learn more about time tracking, especially using the method that Laura Vanderkam presents, check out this podcast with her!

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