Sunday, January 26, 2020

Time Tracking

I started tracking my time again after the holiday. The last time I tracked my time consistently was in 2018. At the time, work was very demanding. I found myself constantly struggling to prioritize and get everything done. Time tracking really helped me get a good sense of how much time I spent on each task / category, and if the allocation made sense at all. Some of the findings from 2018 were:
  • I work most productively in the morning between 8am - 11am.
  • I work in burst of energy: I can work for 20-25mins extremely focused. After that burst, I need to switch to a different task, or take a few mins break before turning my attention back to what I was working on. If I keep going at it without a break, it's wasted time after that sweet 20-25mins with no increase in output.
  • I didn't work 50-60 hours' week as much as I thought. As mentioned, the reason prompting me to track my time is I feel my workload is piling up at work. However, after I track my time, I didn't work that much as I thought. Yes there are 50-60 hours' week for sure. But there are 40-45 hours weeks in between as well. Lots of the anxiety came from mental stress, not the actual amount spending doing work. It helps put things into perspective. 
Based on these learnings about myself, I was able to re-organize my schedule to be more productive while "working less" - maximizing my burst of energy, taking mini breaks before diving back to tasks, focusing on things that really matter, eating the frog first thing (doing the most important, less urgent task) in the morning, etc. All these adjustments helped me achieve greater success and more happiness at work.

In 2020, I have several goals that I'd like to accomplish. One of them is generating more output. Output includes activities such as writing blog articles, reflecting on work/personal life, writing in daily gratitude journal, etc. In my definition, output is the opposite of input - which refers to reading, listening to audiobooks, podcasts, generally any activities where I absorb information. Last year, I took StrengthFinder 2.0 and my #1 strength is Input. I like to absorb a large amount of information. This manifests itself in the fact I read 52 books in 2019. However, I would like to make an effort to translate my input to output - reflecting on what I learned and share that knowledge out to help others. 

Thus, I started time tracking again to find time to generate more output. 

Below is a screenshot of my first working week of the year. This is a breakdown of my free time outside of work. A few observations:
  • No surprise sleep takes up the largest amount of time, average 8.8 hours a day. This includes regular 8 hours a night, plus a short nap on weekends. I'm about 6 months right now with my first child so make sure I get enough sleep every day. 
  • Workout took 5.5 hours. I do 30mins elliptical first thing in the morning and took a 50mins barre class on the weekend. Light exercise everyday energizes me. It's also good for the health of myself and the baby. So I'll continue to prioritize that throughout the pregnancy.
  • Audiobook/reading: almost 20 hours! Just shy of 3 hours a day. Most of them are listening to audiobooks and podcasts on my commute.
  • Rest: 16 hours. Shockingly large amount of time. "Rest" is a catch-all bucket when no specific activities are identified. Lots of the 16 hours went to weekend trips to Philly, when we shopped for groceries and ate lunch there. Two hours were spent to and from there. Some hours were just simply idling and giving my brain a break, which is much needed. A few of these hours, in my opinion, could be harvested to generating output by advanced planning.
  • Output: 3.5hours. Not a bad beginning. When I look at 20hours input vs. 3.5 hours, the ratio isn't too far off. 


The year started well overall. The thing I like about time tracking is the clarity it provides. No more guesswork about how much time you spent on each task. It's all laid out right there.

Will check back in a few weeks with a trend report!

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