I’ve finally come to the realization that I don’t know where I invest my time. I know roughly where I spend my time, as in, “I worked for about 8 hours today.” Or, “I spent Saturday babysitting my niece.” However, I can’t tell you how much of my free time I spend programming vs. watching funny YouTube videos. Normally, this wouldn’t concern me (or anyone else), but in my realization, I noticed that it would be difficult to convince myself to change my behavior if I didn’t first understand it.

I argue with myself a lot. Not in a “hmm, that guy should probably seek medical attention” sort of way, but in a (mostly) productive way that encourages me to examine other viewpoints. I do my best to proffer arguments for something while also playing devil’s advocate and simultaneously arguing for something else. This has led me to require decently well-reasoned rationale behind most of the major decisions that I make in my personal and professional life. As a result of this habit, I’ve realized that I’m not equipped to even attempt to argue with myself when I start wondering if my free time is better spent in ways other than doing hackerrank challenges or watching various tech talks online.

So, how do I better equip myself to make decisions on how to better spend my time? Start tracking it, of course! So, to that end, for the month of October, at work and at home, I will be tracking my time as closely as I can. I know that this can have certain unintended effects, such as altering my own behavior (Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, kinda) or wasting my time just tracking it. However, I’m okay with some of those side effects and have been recommended a neat app, toggl, to help me track my own time simply and with minimal fuss. I’ve used it for about 2 full days in my work and home lives alike, and it has thus far been a pleasant experience.

I am looking forward to examining and interpreting the data I collect about where I spend my time. I think so many neat things can result from this goal to track my time, including:

  • understanding where I spend my time
  • altering my behavior to favor sticking with a single task for longer than I normally would, since the cost of a context switch is now higher
  • forcing me to be diligent in recording my activity
  • making myself highly aware of what I’m doing at all times

I’m sure there are other results that I will discover during this month, and I am excited to share them with you when this is all said and done. Who knows? Maybe I’ll find time tracking to be so effective for me that I will continue doing it in November and beyond!