This week (Friday through yesterday), I decided to finally start a project I’ve been thinking of doing for awhile. The idea was simple but I knew that the execution would be tedious before I even began — I was going to track every minute of my time for one week to do an audit of how I’m using my time (think of it as a budget for your time). This project was inspired both by Laura Vanderkam and Chris Bailey.
This was not an ideal week for the project. We spent and entire day helping someone move, had a birthday party, and socialized way too much. Then, out of nowhere, two new opportunities came my way and I had to shift my attention from working over to them instead.
Out of the seven days, I spent 5 working but, since I was tracking every minute, I obviously didn’t count a “workday” as 8 hours — rather, I only really worked a total of 17 hours and 45 minutes over five days. Again, this week got away from me a little bit in terms of work.
What I’ve Learned
Despite knowing that I was keeping track and going to hold myself accountable, I somehow spent almost 15-and-a-half hours doing, well, nothing. This “nothing” time includes wasting time on my phone, waiting for people, waiting for meetings, driving places, staring out the window, etc. There was only one big chunk of time — on Tuesday — that I was particularly intending to do nothing (I had had miserable news that morning and thinking about what to do). The rest of the time was little blocks of 15 minutes or so, here and there, that added up quickly.
I also realized that the 30 minutes before bed and 30 minutes after I wake up are a lost hour every single day. I spend this time doing nothing — mindless browsing on Reddit or Twitter, clicking through various apps to see what’s new and exciting, watching gifs on instagram… It’s not productive, nor really entertaining. It’s literally the definition of wasted time and I have been voluntarily doing it at least 7 hours a week since… Well, probably since I got a smartphone in 2009. 3300 hours of wasted life. That’s over 4 months of my life gone, in exchange for things I can barely remember.
What I’ll Do Differently
This week I’m going to focus more on multi-tasking and reading books before bed. Instead of watching TV in the morning while having my coffee, I’ll save my shows to watch while cooking. Instead of browsing reddit, I’ll read a book. I’ll remember to carry my book around with me and use that as my go-to instead of my phone.
The biggest chunk of my time was spent socializing. While that’s unproductive, socializing is great for things like, well-being and not sitting in a corner crying about having no friends. So, while it severely ate into my study and working time, I don’t think that I’ll worry too much about cutting out socializing time. Plus, this number varies every week, depending on what’s going on.
I will increase my work hours! I knew that I wasn’t working a full 40 hour week before I went into this project but seeing only 18 hours is a bit distressing. I’m sure that there are a lot of white-collar jobs where 40 hours of pay translates into 18 hours of work but at the Vanessa’s Money Corporate Headquarters, this isn’t going to fly. This week I’ll have to put in more hours.
Finally, what you’ve all been waiting for! The numbers, in easy to read graph format: