For a while, I’ve been using various means of tracking the time that I spend working on stuff. I’m using it as a way of keeping myself accountable. I mean, I don’t have a usual workday or work week. I don’t have set hours that I go to work. I set goals and try to attain them.
Now the danger of tracking time is that I go over the amount of time that I set as a goal, I’m not sure what to do with myself. Do I keep working more because that makes more sense? Or do I stop because I reached a goal? Honestly, I’m still not sure. I manage to get all the work I need to do in a day done in that period of time. I’m trying to get better at reaching that goal to justify the switch to a longer workday.
But why would I do that? Why would I track everything like that?
Well, to keep myself accountable and maybe to try and bring some order into my life. But that doesn’t mean that it’s a great reason to do it.
There’s a lot to be said for focusing on getting done what I need to and not worrying about the amount of time that I spend working on something, but what do you do?
I do the same kind of tracking for the amount of writing that I do. I only track the time that I spend working on the two things that matter: my work and my passion. Is it useful to see how much time I’m dedicating to my work? Possibly. Is it really going to help in the short run, though?
When you see your writing time tracked out in front of you, you start to realize what’s going on in your life. Lately, the time spent working is taking up a lot more of my time than the time that I spend writing. It means that I’m working, getting paid more, and getting ready to get out of the house that I grew up in. That’s a good thing to see on paper.
However, it also means that I’m witnessing the lack of time that I spend writing. I use graph paper to create little bars that I fill in at the end of the day. The last couple of days have gone with most of the work bar filled in, but typically less than half of the writing bar filled in. I like seeing exactly where my time is going and how my goals aren’t working, but I need to also find a way to not worry myself about what I’m doing.
When you’re organizing your own work in this day and age, then you need to find ways to balance your life. These bars are actually causing stress in my life as silly as they are, so I’m working on a way to keep them and track my productivity without damaging myself. Believe it or not, as stressed as I am about a ridiculous little thing in my planner, I’m also seeing that my stress levels have gone down since I was out of college.
As much stress as tracking time can cause, watching the hours tick away in classes and procrastinating on projects actually left my pretty shaken. My anxiety was at an all-time high. I didn’t track the time that I spent working there. I just watched the minutes tick by.
Holding myself accountable helps with that kind of stress, so finding a balance between this system and not tracking time is the way to go.
Many of us watch the hours go by. We get stressed out about the fact that our lives are passing us by, but that’s just how life is. Time ticks, going on with or without us.