Earlier today, a friend (@kikilitalien)on Twitter asked about tech-based productivity tools that people use. I mentioned that I’d just started using a time tracking app for freelancers called Paymo, that I like a lot. From a consulting perspective, it keeps me on task and on budget for my clients, which I like. I also use it to track my non-working time.
I have a 19 month old son, and one thing I’ve been struggling with is how to accomplish everything I want to in a given time period (day, week, month, year). The answer, as far as I’ve seen to date, is that I just can’t. There’s no way I can actually do or accomplish every single goal I would like to in the time span that I would like to. Anyone who says I can has never spent two hours picking vomit out of the back seat of their car when they had planned to do something else.
At this particular point in my life, I’ve come to accept (grudgingly) that rolling with the punches is more important that hitting all my goals within the fastest time possible. One thing I’ve learned in the last 19 months is to be easier on myself in terms of what I can do and what I have the energy to do. I’m learning to scale back on the goals, or scale up on the time it takes to do them. A great example is that I’ve learned cleaning the house takes about an hour longer than it did two years ago because I have to keep track of a little bit too. I may not hit the treadmill every day, or write every day, because things pop up, so I scale back on what I task myself with doing.
That being said, I’ve started tracking my time on non-work items as well, and its helping me with the sense of scale. Just like when you start to diet, and they make you write down everything you eat, writing down how you spend your time is a great way to see where you’re helping and hindering yourself. I have a tendency to multitask – listen to a podcast while cooking dinner is a great way to work things I like to do in with things I don’t, but watching TV while writing a blog post? Doesn’t actually help my concentration for either, and the blog post takes twice as long to write.
Knowing where you spend your time is a powerful way to see where you’re bleeding time, and a great deterrant for wasting time. When you write it down – even for yourself – do you really want to say that you spent 45 minutes doing Google searches for where former cast members of Kids, Inc and the Mickey Mouse Club are? I didn’t think so. (I’m embarrassed just to insinuate that I maybe did that recently.)
Do you track your time, or am I the only time nerd out there?