I tried tracking my time for a couple of days, intent on finding out how much time I spend doing the various things I do. What I discovered is that I really know how to waste time: I sure wasted a lot of it on time tracking.
Maybe there’s value in detailed time tracking for someone with a brain that works differently than mine. Maybe I didn’t give it enough time.
My gut tells me that if I had given it any more time, I would have just ended up with more time wasted.
Ah well. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
I tried a spreadsheet, created a time log, installed apps and tried out different configurations in those apps. Then I spent too much time trying to find the best arrangement of projects and tasks to track. Everything I tried felt wrong: too detailed, not detailed enough. It didn’t help that my idea of what kind of detail I might get the most help from changed every time I managed to get one system set up and tracking.
In the end, I gave up on time tracking to increase productivity.
What I didn’t give up was tracking the time I sleep (which seems kind of weird, I know).
Let me be blunt. I already know what I’m wasting my time on and having it broken down into little increments in a chart doesn’t really add much to that—other than make me feel a bit sick.
If I was capable of using this kind of data to stop those behaviors, I’d have already stopped them. Tracking time doesn’t help me be more efficient, and it doesn’t help my productivity. In fact, all it does is waste my time.
I spend more time focused on perfecting systems than I spend on the work the systems are supposed to help me focus on.
As far as tracking time, I’m tracking my sleep time because I want to know how much I’m sleeping every night. If I find out I’m not sleeping enough and I can correct that, then maybe that will help my productivity.
Of course, the tracking app can’t tell me if I’m actually asleep while it’s tracking, but it can tell me I’m trying to sleep and that’s enough for me. I start the timer when I’m ready to close my eyes at night, and I stop it when I’m ready to get up. For me, that means the logged time is a fairly accurate representation of the amount of time I’m trying to sleep.