Habits life

Tracking Time: So Far!

January 11, 2023

Why yes, I am participating in Laura’s challenge! I’m not submitting anything anywhere, but I have been noting where my time has been going and I actually started 1.1.23 because why not.

This is actually the longest streak of successful time tracking I’ve ever done, though I am sure it is not a perfectly accurate log because I often get lost in doing things and have to try to (imperfectly) recreate the hours spent later on.

It helps that I have been very good about not scrolling/checking stuff incessantly because those tend to create really disorienting time black holes for me!

Here was yesterday:

not a clinic day

Here’s today so far:

I am using a Stalogy notebook (this) that has the hours marked subtly down the left hand side. I do like it for time tracking!

What am I going to do with this data? Not sure. It’s almost like the act of having to track it is the main point — the tracking itself promotes more awareness of whether I am spending my time in the ways that I want to, which probably influences how I choose to spend my time. Notably, since I already spend a lot of time thinking about this (and writing about it, and discussing it with a podcast cohost who is a time management expert!) — I find my time expenditures are already in line with my values, for the most part.

Thus, I am not planning on doing it forever, especially since my daily pages in the Hobonichi Cousin include a little timeline of sorts (though I typically only mark scheduled/hard landscape events there).

But it has still been fun/useful. Tiny things I have done as a result:

1- GO TO BED. I prefer ~7.5 hours/sleep. I often get closer to 7 or just below due to my early mornings (which is FULLY my choice, I know!). Last night I went to bed at like 9:20. I think the ‘evidence’ that I was getting a little behind on sleep was helpful.

2- AVOID CATASTROPHIZING ABOUT UNEXPECTED KID STUFF. Yesterday I had to take G to the peds somewhat unexpectedly (she’s totally fine as confirmed at the visit, so don’t worry). And I could have told myself the story that it derailed my day. But it didn’t – I still got a lot done (podcast recording, 2 important meetings, 2 BLPA 1:1s, and more).

3- NOTICE THE SWEET THINGS a little more, like the fact that A and I have been enjoying reading together in her bed while C is at soccer late (w Josh) and G is in bed. We read together for like 45 minutes yesterday and it was so nice to take note of.

Related tangent: I’m super proud of my current practice of docking my phone at night. I DO think my Apple Watch (not new; I’ve had it for a year) has been helpful for this because I can glance at any important text or phone call and even leave short replies but there’s nothing there to scroll (or at least nothing I want to scroll!).

hopefully I can keep this up!


  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns January 11, 2023 at 12:25 pm

    I’m doing the time tracking challenge, too, but in excel. I loooove excel, though. I am not super detailed about the tracking, but that’s so I can use countif functions to tally how I spent my day. I did it last year, too, so it will be interesting to compare the data year-over-year. Last year Will got tubes that week and then got a virus a couple of days later unrelated to the tubes/surgery so I had a decent chunk of “up at night with Will” in my pie chart of how I spent my time.

    I was just emailing back and forth with Elisabeth about the Apple Watch. I am a super late adaptor of technology but am pretty sure I am going to get an Apple Watch for myself for my birthday in Feb. I have had a FitBit for almost 6 years and while it’s “fine” I know I’d appreciate the features of an Apple Watch. What model do you have? Do you like it? Do you feel the watch face is bulky? That will be the biggest change from the FitBit as the 2 models I’ve had have very small watch faces which works well for my teeny tiny wrists.

    • Reply Grateful Kae January 11, 2023 at 4:08 pm

      Oh shoot, Lisa, I forgot you emailed me about the Apple watch the other day too and I never responded!! I love mine so far! I have the Apple watch Series 8. I have a small wrist too and I don’t find it too bulky! I honestly love it so far. I didn’t think I wanted/ needed it, but it comes in handy so much more often than I ever imagined. I love being able to answer a call or text quickly without needing to find my phone, and I love the Fitness tracking, the timer, being able to ask Siri things on my watch (which I oddly rarely do on my phone, but find myself doing often on my watch?). I think it helps to cut down on my phone use, too, because I don’t worry as much about having my phone near to catch a text or call from my husband before he leaves work, for example, or something like that. I haven’t noticed any issues with accidentally starting a run or actually hitting any buttons on accident. At least on mine, it seems you have to be pretty intentional to make things happen. I have the watch face selected that also displays the weather forecast and current temperature, which is silly but comes in handy more than you’d think! (And a compass direction, in case I get lost. 🤓😅) Also love being able to pause a podcast, etc from my watch and I have my Google cal synced there too, which comes in handy often if my phone isn’t around and I need to check what time swim practice is!! Love the health tracking and sleep data too- similar to Fitbit but seems even better/ more detailed. I vote you get one!

      • Reply Lisa of Lisa’s Yarns January 11, 2023 at 4:50 pm

        Thank you! This is super helpful! I waited so long to get AirPods and then loved them so much when I got them for my bday 2 years ago. I think that I will likely feel the same way about the Apple Watch. I mean my Fitbit things I am swimming every time I fold laundry and then doesn’t detect that I’m working out when I do strength training workouts that include a HIIT component that leaves me breathless. So I have to imagine the apple watch will be an improvement! And I know there will be so many other great things – like the weather. This morning we were getting ready to leave and I have no idea we had freezing rain! I only knew when a coworker texted to say she was WFH due to late school start. That info was useful to have before Phil stepped out the door onto extremely icy sidewalks. Ha. I would love having fast access to weather to determine if it’s a good day to run! Between you and Elisabeth, you’ve basically sold me on buying one!!

  • Reply Lisa January 11, 2023 at 1:21 pm

    Very curious to hear opinions on the Apple Watch. I recently switched after using a Fitbit for years and not gonna lie, I miss the Fitbit. I find the Apple Watch gets confused and doesn’t track my movement accurately. And it’s too easy to hit something by accident and start say, recording an outdoor run while I’m actually in the shower.

  • Reply KGC January 11, 2023 at 1:55 pm

    Cannot agree with you more about the Apple Watch. I got mine in 2021, when my husband asked me if I might like one for my birthday. I said no, that I didn’t need one, but he got one for me anyway and…it is one of the best gifts I have ever received. The ability to receive notifications but the inability to scroll is by far the best thing about it! I find that the fitness tracking capabilities are enough for me (a mediocre runner who just wants overall mileage tracking in Strava…not that any of that matters now that I’m currently sidelined with injury! sigh.) but I know that some others prefer a watch more geared toward fitness.

  • Reply coco January 11, 2023 at 5:17 pm

    how do you make podcast/spotify not count as screen time? mine still count it even when they are at the background.

    I tried to track time but just forget about it on day 1. terrible… I think paper tracking would work better as I am working on not use my phone for everything.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger January 11, 2023 at 8:53 pm

      as long as i turn the screen off, apple doesn’t count it!

    • Reply marcia @OrganisingQueen January 16, 2023 at 9:22 am

      Came to ask the same question – I have scribd/ podcasts, etc. reflecting too and I do turn my phone off. Let me be very focussed for a day and see if it stops tracking.

  • Reply gwinne January 11, 2023 at 7:42 pm

    Sarah, I started the challenge and gave it up after a day and a half for the reason I usually do. 🙁
    I’m already really aware of my time at the 30 minute level. To really learn something useful I’d need to get quite granular (10 minute incremements?) and tracking that closely, for me, takes too much time and at some point I forget to do it. I tried Toggl which was interesting and might be valuable if I want to track something such as specific work projects or email use. BUT looking at your time logs suggests to me that I am always “tracking my time” in a broader sense!

    The main timeframe I’d like to explore is the post-kid bedtime window, which has been newly rediscovered. Right now I’ve got aboiut 60-90 minutes to myself after Tiny Boy goes to bed (which used to be LG time….but LG is now at college during the weekdays). I have been doing a combo of reading and TV watching. I’m not sure there’s anything else I could do except possibly bedtime yoga or meditation. Maybe lowstakes art, like coloring books? Can’t involve major activities or other humans…

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger January 12, 2023 at 10:23 am

      my theoretical relaxing craft (that i don’t actually do but someday want to) is cross stitch 🙂

  • Reply Chelsea January 12, 2023 at 6:21 am

    For those who are thinking about an Apple watch… depending on what features you are using, you could also consider a Garmin watch. It tracks activity, sleep and other health metrics like heart rate and respiration really well and you can receive texts and notifications on it (and that’s on my old model – I’m sure newer ones do more). My favorite part is that I can use it to hang up on telemarketers without finding my phone. Another thing that’s nice about it is it doesn’t have any apps, so I can’t ever get stuck – IDK – trying to scroll insta on it (would that even be possible? Not with my 40-year-old eyes, lol).

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger January 12, 2023 at 7:39 am

      For me the benefit of apple watch is more app functionality (such as the Duo security app I have to use at work), being able to type very short replies to texts, and being able to actually pick up the phone and talk even if my phone is not nearby. Honestly no – I’ve never been tempted to scroll on the apple watch. I don’t even know what I would scroll (and no, I don’t want suggestions!). That said I had a Garmin 235 for years and it was also great just missing a couple of things that make the AW more useful to me.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger January 12, 2023 at 7:40 am

      and, i do think Apple Watch has gotten more accurate with GPS. at least in my flat area!

  • Reply Amelia K. January 12, 2023 at 6:21 am

    I have the same issue with sleep. I usually try to be in bed by 10 pm at the latest because I am an early bird. I wake up between 4 and 5 because I treasure my morning quiet time so much. It honestly feels like the only time of day I can truly say will go as planned (most of the time). I have high hopes of using the 4 to 7 am hours to cultivate some good habits (other than reading and planning). Hoping BLPA may help with this 😉

  • Reply omdg January 12, 2023 at 9:52 am

    I’ve gone to bed before 9 every night this week except Monday (call), which has turned out to be necessary because I only slept for 3 hours on call Monday night. It would be nice if I needed less than 8.5h of sleep to be functional, but that is not reality over the long term, and if I have a night with limited to no sleep, I must make up for it. Getting 9+ hours during my non-call nights has meant I have retained use of my brain this week despite call, so… yay!

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