Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Keeping Track of Time

I'm reading a very interesting book at the moment called 'What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast' by the author Laura Vanderkam.  It's inspiring me to take a look at how I use my time on a daily basis.

Now, I know I'm not a high flying business person, but I think anyone can benefit from taking a look at what they spend their time doing, and I am no exception.  In her book, Vanderkam recommends recording how much time you spend on everything you do for a week, to see where your time goes and whether it is being spent in a useful/productive way.

You may be thinking that life is not always about being productive, and I totally agree, sometimes it's good in life to just sit back and be, enjoy the moment, take life at your own pace, and this book does advocate that you do take time out of your day/weekend to do such things.  It also, however, reminds us that there are only a finite number of weekends available to us, a fact that I personally tend to overlook, and encourages you to make the most of yours by scheduling in things from your bucket list of things you would like to do.  This might include activities, crafts, places or people to visit, other experiences, etc. etc.

I love to spend my weekends at home in our house, pottering about, etc. etc., but when we ventured out last weekend into Central London, it reminded me how lovely it is just to get out and about now and again and do something different.  It's very easy to get into a rut and not actually do very much at all with your time on a weekend.

For the past couple of days, I've been noting down how much time I spend doing certain activities, from reading in bed, getting ready in a morning, food preparation and housework, to the time I spend on the computer doing work and non-work related stuff.  It is proving to be a very eye opening exercise.  It is making me take a fresh look at how I spend my time, and confirming to me what I have been feeling lately, namely that perhaps I have been spending far too much of my time on-line on non-work related stuff.  I think that this is something that I do need to address.

The book talks about taking a day a week as a kind of sabbatical, where you don't engage in any technological activity, to enable you to recharge and refresh your mind.  I'm very much thinking of doing something along these lines, perhaps on a Sunday.  Leaving blog/email reading/online shop checking until the next day, isn't really going to make too much difference to my on-line/business life, but spending that time disengaging from technology might make a big difference to our family life.

Another amongst many interesting suggestions that Vanderkam makes, is to spend a small amount of time on Sunday planning what you want to achieve in the week ahead.  This can help reinforce what your priorities for that week really are and prevent you getting too distracted by other demands that might arise as the week progresses.  I must admit that I often do something similar to this, by way of writing a 'To Do List', menu plan and a grocery shopping list for the week ahead on a Sunday evening, so that I can start the week knowing what I need to achieve. In all honesty, I don't always achieve all the things on my list, but it does help me not to forget the more important things that need doing and these usually do get done.

Do you do any of the above and find them useful?  Do you limit the time you spend online?  I'd be interested to hear other people's time management tips.


  1. I probably waste a lot of time ! At breakfast I check emails Blog & Facebook -and send work related emails out. My last year has changed since taking being a paid member of staff & not a volunteer. what I MUST do is make time for exercise ( separate from dog walking ) as I do none !

    1. I do the same at breakfast but spend far too much time online at other times of the day.

  2. I'm not a fan of to-do lists, I prefer lists of what I have done instead. If I have a to-do list and get through everything then I'm likely to think that I can put my feet up and not do anything else. If I instead look at what I have done then I find it more motivating because I can see how well time is being spent, if that makes sense.

    Plus I think to myself that if I have to write something down to remind me to do it then it's probably not that urgent. Obviously I write appointments down on my calendar, but that's not quite the same thing imo.

    I generally employ a "worst first" approach and do certain things before I even sit down in the morning, then I know they're done and my day opens up before me.

    1. That's a very self-disciplined approach. I'm afraid I work in the reverse and the worst jobs often get done last or are the ones that get carried over. That's probably why a lot off things never actually get done for months.