Top of the Monday morning to ya.
Today I’d like to share a different productivity trick than what usually parade around: Time logging versus to-do lists.
Read about time logging, how I use it and how you can use it after the jump.
TIME LOGGING Time logging is exactly what it says. Logging your time. You can also call it time tracking, if you like; this seems to be the more Google-able term for it.
It’s registering what you spend your time on, what you do and how long you do it. Through doing that, you find out what you do in an hour, a day, a week, etc.
It differs from to do lists in that it’s more focused on what you’re actually doing instead of what you plan to do. Reality versus idealism, if you will.
You track what you’re doing throughout the day, how much time you spend on individual tasks (or not doing them).
You log what is actually done, not what was supposed to be done. This fact alone can be hugely motivating to get going and do stuff.
HOW I USE IT At home I don’t use it at all. I just find it incredibly useful at work. I usually use it next to my to-do lists, but sometimes I work with time logging all on its own.
I like having a log by the end of the day of what I’ve done and how long everything took me. It’s interesting information and makes it easier for me to look back when and how I took care of something. I keep it in a Word document on my computer at work.
See, sometimes our days seem unproductive when we can’t cross off any items from our to-do lists, while they are not necessarily that terribly unproductive!
Especially in a traditional work environment this can be the case: Meetings can take a big chunk of time while they are necessary, little forgotten tasks come up, small crises that have to be dealt with right away.
These things are part of a
job life too, even if they are not on our to-do lists.
If you’re ‘just’ using a to do list and look at it at the end of the day, you can feel disappointed you got so little done, while in fact, you might have been productive all day!
And time logging also includes those things: the extras, the on-the-spot issues you took care of, the unforeseen circumstances you had to work with. It provides a complete summary of the day and what you’ve done.
It’s realistic, complete, and if you do it honestly it can be a total fucking eyeopener. When did you procrastinate? How come? What task took you the longest? Why? And most importantly: How many hours of the day are you actually doing something useful with your time?
HOW YOU CAN USE IT There are cute and user-friendly Time Tracking apps and websites available, as well as worksheets, but you can also just do it like this:
- Make a table in Microsoft Word
- Do something
- Fill the activity + the total amount of time spent in
- Optional: Evaluate by the end of the day.
- Be proud of what you’ve done that day.
I know. Not revolutionary. But fuck that. I said it before and I will say it again: sometimes we forget how effective simplicity can be.
As mentioned before, to do lists are a great tool but maybe if they’re not your thing, you want to give time logging a try.
Still not sure?
No worries, I had a famous friend time log a day of his life.
And if the Chosen One doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what will.