Tracking Time

The Fallacy of "I Don't Have Time"

    So many people complain about not having time. In fact, I am guilty of this. I do it nearly everyday. My time is very scarce. Because of this, the tactics of time budgeting that I discussed earlier come in to play. It is important to realize how much time you actually have. The next question is how do you go about this? Upon completion of accurate record of time usage and budgeting, it then becomes pretty clear how much time is actually left. What you will likely find is that you have more time than you think, especially after you go through the exercise of actually making a budget and a schedule. This was true for my experience.

    When you find out you have more time than you actually think, you then realize “I don’t have time” is not actually the case. So then you refer to your longer term goals and focus on what you really want to accomplish. These are the goals you want to make time for. Assuming you are able to find extra time after this process, the next step is to train yourself to stop saying the following words “I don’t have time.” This is extremely difficult to break. I am still trying to do that! This could take quite a while to master. I will let you know when I get there, I have not yet!

     Now if you can’t find any extra time at all, you need to reevaluate your schedule. You are then way too busy and need to cut things out. This would be a good time to reread the “Cut the Clutter” post. Even if you are not too busy, it is a good time to reevaluate the activities. It is important to re-evaluate your activities regularly as life is always changing and we are going through different stages.

Make a Time Budget

     We have all heard of a budget for our money. This can also be done with our time. There are many ways to go about this, but first let me explain to you the benefits that a time budget can offer. One benefit of a time budget is that you can limit activities that you feel are taking too much of your time. For example, just like making sure you don't spend too much money on eating out, you can budget your time for social media, TV, or anything else you may want to limit.

     The main reason to do this is to make sure you have enough time for the things you really want to do. Just as we have a finite amount of money, our time should be treated the same way. This is even more true with time because there is no way to create more time, while we can find ways to make more money. To make the most of our time, we should watch how we are spending it so that we can make the best use of it.

     There are several ways to go about making at time budget. How detailed you want to be is up to you. I mentioned in my detailed schedule post about how it is up to you on how detailed you want to be. It will take some trial and error to find out which method works best. First of all, you will need to determine what time period you want to use for your budget - do you want to make it annually, monthly, quarterly, weekly or daily? You could also use certain time periods like a semester in college or school year. As far as time periods is concerned, use whatever works best for you, and you can change it whenever you need to. 

     Another aspect of determining your time budget is how detailed it will be.  Will you be tracking everything you do or are you interested in limiting certain activities? It's entirely up to you whether you track 1 activity or over 150 activities like I do. Just as I track practically everything I do, I also make a budget for all of these activities. I use aTimeLogger to track my time and Excel to make a budget. I then use the Excel Budget to view the aTimeLogger activity reports to compare budgets. I personally use Excel so I can do an annual budget and check actual activities such as church events, social events, family events, etc. There is a "goals" function in aTimeLogger so you can limit or set a goal toward an activity. This has been working well for me so far this year, but I know as time progresses I will continue to refine the process. This will be the same for you also, always do what is best for you at the time.

The Importance of Scheduling Everything

     You are probably making a schedule if you find this blog appealing. How detailed is the schedule that you make? Some people schedule only appointments and meetings. Others schedule every place they go. Still other people schedule much more than that. I've tried various methods over the past 15 years when it comes to scheduling and found that the more detailed I get, the more beneficial it is for me. 

    I am not going to ask anyone to do what I do. This is what works for me, which very well may work for others, but definitely not everyone. I schedule just about everything. I schedule the obvious - work, activities, commitments, etc. I schedule tasks and chores. I schedule journaling, record keeping, personal care, and even things like eating. It's not like I am going to forget to eat, but to me it makes it clear how much time I actually have. For example, if on average it takes me 2 minutes to brush my teeth, I will keep that in the schedule so I can stay on track. Again, an approach this detailed may not be for everyone. For me it works very well, although not perfect. My most productive days are when I follow the schedule as closely as possible. I have tried scheduling out a lot of individual activities such as brushing teeth, brushing hair, taking out the trash, etc. However, that can be very cumbersome to actually schedule out and change if I have to, so I have made a lump event to include these activities because I have found that it has become irrelevant of which time the tasks actually get done, just as long as they get done. Scheduling enough time for all of these tasks such as a morning routine is important to have the right amount of time scheduled.

    A question that may come up on scheduling everything is how do I know how long something will take? Now there are many approaches to this, but my favorite is actually tracking my time. I track my time in a very detailed manner as well. Again, the best approach to this is a preference, based on whatever your needs are going to be. It is up to you on what works best. I use aTimeLogger to track my time, and I find it extremely useful to see how my time is spent. I find this process critical to developing a schedule that is accurate and actually works. My schedule is still a work in progress, but is constantly improving.