The Simple Strategy to Discover Where Your Time Goes

by - August 07, 2021

 I don't know about you, but sometimes I wish there was more time in the day. You know at the end of the day when you are trying to think of what you did that day, and you realize that you can't think of a single productive thing you did? Yeah, sometimes I feel like I've wasted my entire day, and I'm sure you've felt this way before too! To put it simply, where does all the time go?

The Simple Strategy to Discover Where Your Time Goes

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Today, I'll be sharing the simple and effective strategy you can use to discover where all your time goes. And trust me, it actually works because I tried it out myself! I wouldn't share this strategy with you otherwise.

Plus, did I mention that this strategy is simple?

I found that once I started, it was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be!

You have twenty-four hours in every day, but it often feels like a lot less. If you sleep for eight hours, and you work for eight hours, that still gives you another eight hours to do whatever you want! It sounds pretty good, right? When you have it written out like that in black and white, it seems like you should have plenty of time to do whatever you want, but most of us still end up feeling like we STILL DON'T HAVE ENOUGH TIME.

Well, I hear you! We can't add another hour to the day, though it would be great to have twenty-five hours in every day.

But, what we can do is figure out where all of our time is going, and then use that extra time in our day to create our dream lives. Let's do this thing!

The Simple Strategy to Discover Where Your Time Goes

The Simple Strategy to Discover Where Your Time Goes

Before we get into how you can use this simple and effective strategy to discover where your time goes, I want to mention that I got the idea for doing this from the book I Know How She Does It by Laura Vanderkam. In the book, Laura Vanderkam gathered weekly time logs from women that make over $100,000 dollars per year and are raising kids. She studied these time logs to figure out how these women were able to have it all (A high-earning job and a family with kids).

While I don't work a 9-5 job currently, and I don't have any kids, I decided that I could use a time log to figure out where all my time goes. If you are looking for an interesting book to read, then I Know How She Does It by Laura Vanderkam is a good option. Laura Vanderkam has also written a few other books, and I'm going to check those ones out as well.

If you are more of a podcast person, Laura Vanderkam also has a podcast called Before Breakfast. Each episode is around 5 - 10 minutes, and I enjoy listening to the tips she has to offer!

I use a bullet journal currently to organize my life, so of course, I turned to my bullet journal to create my time log. If you don't have a bullet journal, you can still use this same method to track where all of your time goes on a single sheet of paper or even on your phone. But if you are interested in getting started with a bullet journal, you can read Bullet Journaling: What Is It?.

So what is this simple and effective strategy to figure out where your time goes?

Well, like I said, it's simple. All you have to do is track your time for a week. This might seem a little daunting to track your time for a whole week, but it's easier than it sounds. I'll walk you through how I tracked my time for a week, and give you my best tips for how you can effectively track your time. After, you finish the week of time-tracking though is where the fun comes in. Then you get to study your time tracker, and see where your time actually goes!

The Simple Strategy to Discover Where Your Time Goes

Making Your Bullet Journal Time Tracker

In case you are wondering what notebook I am using, it is a Scrivwell Dotted Notebook this year, and I have had no problems with it so far! It's also under $15 dollars, which is a huge plus for me!

Making your bullet journal time tracker is pretty simple.

To start, all you have to do is divide your bullet journal layout into seven sections, one for each day. I made this layout horizontal in my bullet journal, so I would have more room. Then you just need to divide each day into half an hour blocks. You could do fifteen-minute blocks, but that will be a ton more work. One-hour blocks will be too far apart. You might be surprised at how much you can get done in an hour!

You don't need to feel pressured to start your time log at the beginning of the week. The first day of my time log says Monday, but I started my time log on Tuesday and then picked up Monday at the end. After you finish your layout, you can start collecting data!

I thought it was going to be really hard to fill out my time tracker every day, but it was easier than I imagined it would be.

The best way I found to fill out my time tracker, was to fill in my layout a few times a day. Say, after every meal. Sometimes I missed not going to lie, and then it was hard to catch back up. Maybe my short-term memory just isn't very good because my day-to-day life is currently very similar! 😂

It's okay if you accidentally switch some of the things on your chart. You just want to get a general idea of what you do during the day, so it's fine if you accidentally switch "went to the grocery store" and "called a friend".

If you are like me, you easily lose track of time. My watch is a huge help for me though with this because it has a stopwatch on it. Whenever I start certain activities, I simply turn on my stopwatch, and it will beep every fifteen minutes. This way, if I get off track, at least I'll only waste at the max fifteen minutes of my time.

I used my watch to help myself break up the day into half an hour blocks. This way, I had an estimate of how much time I spent on every activity.

You just have to continue filling out your tracker for seven days. I found that when I am tracking my time, I am very much more aware of time itself. After you have all of your data, you can study it, and actually figure out where all of your time goes!

Figuring Out Where All of Your Time Goes

Now it's time for the exciting part! Or this might be kind of unexciting and even embarrassing for you when you realize how much time you spend on your phone. But either way, you'll be able to see how you spend your time!

Once you know how you spend your time, you can use this information to be more productive and you can use your time more wisely.

The Simple Strategy to Discover Where Your Time Goes

Making a Time Calculator

To figure out how I spent my time during the entire week, I made a time calculator. As you can (hopefully) see on my bullet journal layout, I added up the time I spent on each activity for the week. Then I wrote that down, along with the ideal amount of time I want to spend on that activity each week.

To do this for yourself, you should come up with at least a few different categories. One would probably be sleep, another would be work, and another would be school, etc. You don't want to have too many categories. Look at your time log, and see what the general activities you have listed down, and then use those. If you want, you can even color-code it, so you can get a clearer picture of how you spend your time.

Then you can go through your time log, and add up how many hours you did that activity for the week. This will be an estimate, so don't try to be too specific. You can use half-hours, but I wouldn't add it up in fifteen-minute increments.

If you do it perfectly, you should end up with 168 hours. I didn't because I had some travel time and some other wasted time that I didn't add to my time calculator.

Getting Insight Into Your Week

After you have done this, you will be able to see some insight into your week. For example, I noted that I got 55 hours of sleep during the week, which is around 8 hours per night. That's perfect for me! I woke up at 5:30 six days of the week, so I thought I might be getting less than 7-8 hours of sleep per night, but I was wrong.

I also noticed that I had ten hours of unaccounted for time and wasted time that I labeled as "other". Ten whole hours?!? That's ten more hours I could've used for working on my hobbies. With a time calculator layout, you can gain new insight into your day, so you can spot problem points of your day. (Problem points are points of your day where you get distracted.)

You may have noticed that I only did 4.5 hours of school and studying during this week. This is because I am currently on summer break. During the school year, these numbers would look a lot different.

Creating Your Ideal Week

Then, you can decide what you want your ideal day to be like. If you get eight hours of sleep every night, then that would be 168 - 56. Then you can subtract how many hours you work every week, and time for school, and so on until your day is filled up. You will need some extra hours in your day for switching between tasks, getting ready for activities, and travel time, etc so don't expect you can have 168 hours of time filled up with your activities. That will not work!

If you want to exercise for an hour five times a week, and two hours on Saturday, then you can subtract nine hours. It's all about doing the math!

At the bottom of this layout, I wrote the quote, "It's not about "HAVING" time, it's about MAKING time". Have you ever heard someone say, "I'll get to that when I have time" or "I'm going to start XYZ when I have more time"?

Now I don't want to be harsh because I'd like to think that we are two friends just chatting it up. But, there is simply no such thing as having "more" time. There are only 24 hours in the day, and you are never going to have more time. You have to make the time. If you keep putting a task off because you are going to do it when you have "more" time, you are never going to do it. This simply means that that task is not a priority in your life. Plain and simple. I hope we are still friends after all that. :)

The Simple Strategy to Discover Where Your Time Goes

The Simple Strategy to Discover Where Your Time Goes

And that my friends, is how you figure out where all your time goes. Whenever you feel like you are wasting a lot of your time, you can utilize a time log to help yourself be more aware of what you are doing. When my lifestyle changes, I'll probably try out doing this again.

If you try out this simple strategy of using a time log to figure out how you spend your time, I would love to hear how it goes!

Read these posts too, if you enjoyed reading this one!

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The Simple Strategy to Discover Where Your Time Goes

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