Time Diary: Another Way to Fine-Tune Your Productivity

Time Diary Tracking

Recently on The Simple Dollar, Trent Hamm shared his experience of using a time diary to improve his time management and awareness. Keeping a time diary was a choice that fulfilled a need I’ve mentioned several times here: the need to check up on yourself, notice patterns in the way you work, and discover positive changes that you can make permanent fixtures in your productivity efforts.

Hamm’s time diary was “a document where you record what you’re doing throughout the day in as much detail as reasonably possible.” He recorded his daily actions—waking up, eating breakfast, checking email, spending time with family, etc.—for about a month and a half and carefully compared his notes so he could find ways to improve or things to maintain in his future routine. He found facts, then found a way to adapt his behavior keeping those facts in mind. He discovered that a bad night of sleep hits him two days after the fact, that when he spends time with his children he’s more productive the following day, that reading time boosted his productivity, and that regularly cleaning his office kept him on track task-wise. He also found the optimal number of hours for his sleeping needs (he peaks at 8).

This sort of detailed diary is another way to track your efforts and discover tips and tricks that work for you. Not every life adjustment will help everyone, so keeping a steady record will help you figure out what works and what doesn’t.

Since not everything works for everyone, it’s worth noting that a time diary may not be helpful for everyone who tries it. Some will do better with Benjamin Franklin’s daily checkup method, or perhaps simply a week or so when you focus on certain actions and their effects (amount of sleep and your level of restfulness each day, for example).

Carefully tracking your efforts, however you go about it, is bound to give you new and useful insights into how you get things done. What sort of things have you tracked in the past, and what things would you like to track in the future? What productivity insights have you gained from tracking?

Image by Stuart Miles via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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