We have already written about how we feel about time and that you should budget it just like you do your money, but how do you actually do that? Block scheduling is a good start, but what if you don’t even know where you spend your time? What if you do not know how long something takes? What if you thought you did not spend a lot of time doing something, but really spent more time than you would have liked to admit? This is where tracking your time comes in. So how do you track your time? It sounds very time consuming, tedious, and not fun. You would not be wrong in thinking that, but the benefits you get out of it can be life changing and we hope to explain why tracking your time is easier than you think and then sum up why you would even want to do this.
Back to tracking your time. You can do this manually with paper, that has always been an option, but we think this is a time when technology can really help. We will be reviewing the app aTimeLogger we use to track time. It is available on IOS and Android and on Android you can get almost all of the features for free (although if you can, you should support the developer and get some extra features!). IOS is a one time $5 fee. Let’s take a look at the app.
Once you create an account (you can easily delete it if you need/want to) you will need to make the types of times that you want to track. Some ideas could be-
- Date/Spouse time
- A project or passion
- Video games
- Reading (any kind of hobby)
Really the types are completely up to you! In the beginning we would strongly suggest tracking all 168 hours in the week. This might mean you have somewhat of a catch all activity. Ours was family time which was when my wife, 2 kids, and I were all together either at home or doing something together. If you do this for 2-4 weeks you can start to see data that will show you accurate trends of where you are spending your time what you are spending your time on. Then after that initial time period, you can better adjust to what you either still are struggling with or maybe what you would like to continue to track to improve or change. You can keep tracking all 168 hours if you want too! There is no wrong answer here.
You can easily see what activity is currently tracking and you can have multiple activities going at the same time. In our situation we only track one thing at a time, but maybe there is a situation for you where you want to track multiple things. On Android the widgets make it very easy to start and stop an activity.
Widgets, reports, and goals are what make this app a joy to use. You can make a widget on your home screen that has all of your activities right there for you to start and stop. This saves you time to get more time back! The reports are extremely customizable and you can even export as a CSV or HTML file. The other awesome feature are goals. You can set a target time goal and there are different ways to track it (limit time or reach for example). This is a great way to really see where you are spending your time and if your goals are realistic.
We will just put it out there, tracking your time is not easy and can be frustrating. Especially in the beginning if you do decide to go all in and track all 168 hours in a week. You will forget times to switch activities and then have to go back and manually adjust. It will get easier though and when you really start to see where your time is going, if you are hitting your goals, how long tasks actually take, and how long you spend on certain activities, it will start to make sense. Think about how valuable your time is. Once you lose it you do not get it back. Even if you can learn to redirect 2-4 hours a week to something more productive or to something you care about, this whole experience will be worth it. We personally do not always track our time. Normally we will do 4-6 months on tracking every hour, but then take off the same amount of time or more. You should stop tracking when you feel like you have a solid understanding of your time or when you feel it is becoming more of a distraction than a source of new information. More so than anything in life, what you spend your time on really shows where your priorities are. Make sure you direct them to the right things.
Here is the link to the developers website- http://www.atimelogger.com/