What I Learned From Logging My Time For A Week

I’ve talked about Laura Vanderkam many times on the blog - she is a time management author, who interviews and gathers time log data from a variety of people.

Her message is to essentially prove to us that we have more time than we think.

I agree with her concept, but when my brain starts to feel overwhelmed, I’m always pretty adamant I’m too tight on time and can spin out over that.

After recently reading her book Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done, I decided to follow her suggestion and keep a time log for a week. You can download her time log spreadsheet through her subscription form here.

I actually tracked my time almost 4 years ago to the day (you can time travel back and read that post here if you like).

And … yeah, I was worried about spending 2 ½ hours a day on the internet back in 2014 … let’s just say we’re closer to 5 hours now.

I’m going to blame maternity leave and will be working to reduce that for sure. Especially now the new iOS tells you how many times a day you pick up your phone (go and look in your settings - I was shocked!)

So, I tracked my time in 30 minute increments for a week (she also offers a 15 minute increment option but that was a little too intense for me), and here’s what I learned:

Tasks don’t take as long as I think they do

I noticed how little time things take in a number of ares of my life.

I am kinda hamstrung by baby nap times at the moment so once she goes to sleep, I’ll relax for ten minutes or so, then shower, put laundry on, etc.

What I noticed when I was logging my 30 minutes was… I was doing a lot in that 30 minutes.

Like all of those things! I thought I needed loads of time to get them done but in fact, I could relax, shower and put the laundry on and be back to a cup of coffee within half an hour.

Something I lament over is how long it takes to cook dinner - again, not that long… usually less than half an hour for most of my recipes.

And one more hilarious observation for the road…

I kind of loathe straightening my hair. Well guess what? It takes me 6 minutes to straighten my hair. I probably whinge in my mind for longer than 6 minutes about doing it! No longer…

I get enough sleep

Sadly I don’t get the 10+ hours I probably used to get on weekends pre-baby, but after filling up all those 30 minute cells with sleep overnight and into the morning, I am actually getting enough sleep. I get at least 6 hours and mostly 7.5 hours. So although

I feel within my rights to feel a bit tired day to day, it’s nothing to stress over.

I read a lot

I love having the Kindle app on my iPad (go and download some free Amazon sample chapters now!) but I never felt like I was reading enough.

Not only did I realise I read quite a lot (...like sometimes up to 2 hours a day) but tracking my time encouraged me to read more.

Writing ‘reading my phone’ in the 30 minute block wasn’t quite as inspiring as actually reading a book and logging that.

I exercise more than I think I do

I haven’t tracked my exercise in a long time so usually just decide day to day what I feel like doing.

Once I tracked my week as part of the challenge, I realised I was working out more than I thought and the variety was broader than I expected.

Baby and I go walking a lot but I also do a mix of weights, pilates, yoga and barre at home.

And again, my brain often spins out about exercise - telling me I don’t have the time. But once I realise it only takes one 30 minute slot in the spreadsheet (or maximum two) in the scheme of my day I can usually fit it in.

I unwind with TV and movies (when I say I don’t)

In this era of binge watching shows on Netflix/whatever streaming service you’re into, I am often left quiet in conversations as friends and coworkers discuss the latest trending series and how many episodes they powered through on the weekend.

I have a bit of a complex about spending too many hours watching TV so often don’t watch many shows.

When I tracked my time, I found I was watching something each day, usually in the evening, but again kinda decided on the spot.

I started a new series (Younger - 6 years late to the party), am still working through the latest season of The Handmaid’s Tale and watched an Amy Winehouse documentary.

So the story I was telling myself wasn’t so accurate - I am watching things that interest me each week.

Conclusion: (as Laura predicted) I have more time than I think!

Have you ever tracked your time? Is it something you would try?