Yesterday the time just got away from me. I used much of my morning working on the family budget and then spent some time running errands. I picked up contact lenses from the eye doctor, dropped off a donation box at the ARC store and stopped in at the bank to open a new savings account. I had to run back and forth to the bank several times because of miscommunication about the paperwork and signatures, but it was a nice day and I didn’t mind.
However, I looked at my watch and it all of a sudden was nearly 3 p.m. and I felt like the day had gotten away from me. I hadn’t really eaten a solid meal and I was already thinking about heading to the gym to get in my workout. Where had my ‘sitting on my ass’ time gone? Where was the time I meant to spend in planning gotten away to?
One of the concepts I learned (well apparently didn’t learn well enough!) about time management many years ago was to have a solid idea of where your time really goes. I recall reading that we might be shocked about how much time we seem to “waste” on matters like preoccupation and generally spinning our wheels. It is difficult to be focused when you are not sure where your time goes.
So I am setting about to take a look at how I spend my time. I’m sure there are apps I could find and use that could practically automate collection of this data, but my thick skull needs the practical input of pausing to ponder what I’ve done throughout my day. I also realize that the tactile feedback of actually writing or recording is a good thing to do. However, as a teacher, I don’t really having the luxury of sitting and writing out reflectively about what I’ve done every 15-30-60 minutes. I needed to come up with a simple format to log in my time use.
Here is what I came up with in my Field Notes planner. This is a work in progress and if I find that it is not meeting my desired outcomes, then I’ll try another approach. I think if I keep this for a week, it may give me some insight. Since it is in my planner, I know I will have it with me all of the time so it ought to be easy to pause for 5-10 seconds and record as I transition between class periods or activities within classes. I deliberately made a full day so that I can see what I am doing during the 12 hour day. I may need to add another little box for evening and early morning time.
My idea is to use this grid to mark, in a code, what I do in 15-30 minute increments. I’ve written out a key of the things I think I spend my time on, but this will get added to. I’ve already realized, since I snapped the photo, that I need to have a code for meetings. I don’t have a lot of meetings typically, but I do get captured in them occasionally.
What do you think?