As we roll on to 2024 I’ve started to think about where I’m spending my time, specifically, how I can use time-tracking to see if I’m spending my time doing the things I want to be doing. I’m not talking about my work hours time-tracking, I sorted that out in 2012 and really don’t have any changes. I aim to bill 5 hours a day, and usually hit closer to 6. After more than a decade of this, working hours is a solved problem.

One of my bigger concerns this year has been my mindless YouTube watching time. I have nothing against YouTube, but I want to be intentional about it, specifically at the end of the day when I’m tired and it’s easy to simply put YouTube on. I find that I want to read a book, or do something else but YouTube is easy.

My second concern is the amount of reading I’ve done this year. As of today I’ve read 34 books, and I’ll likely finish another one today, but I still want to spend more time reading instead of wasting my time on things I don’t really care about. For 2024 I’d like to read 5 hours a week. The number of books doesn’t matter, just that I’ve spent the time reading a book. If I’ve got the book out and I’m thinking and writing down ideas from the pages in my notes, that also counts as reading time.

My third concern is the amount of quality time I spend with my kids. Sure we interact all the time, but how much time do I spend doing fun things with them? How often do I make cookies or take a walk with them? It’s really easy to put the TV on and let them watch TV while I do the kitchen clean up and get dinner ready. It’s much more fulfilling, even if it is slower, to do dishes with the kids and get them involved in baking cookies and making dinner. When I do this my nights feel like they were well spent instead of feeling like they were some black hole that my life went into.

My final concern is feeling exhausted at work, which I wrote about already. I’m going to divide my work hours into good focused time and random interrupted time.

December Trial Run

For the month of December I have a trial run going just to see how tracking my time goes and to help me set up my categories.

At this moment I plan to rely heavily on 2 tags, focused and unfocused. Did I spend focused time working or unfocused time, where I waffled around on a bunch of different things? My goal is to spend more time on focused work than unfocused work.

To be clear, watching YouTube videos can be both focused and unfocused depending on how I approach it. Playing video games could also be either. Watching videos at night could be either, no matter what videos I’m watching. The point is to intend to watch videos vs defaulting to the behaviour because it’s easy.

My Time Tracking Tools

Toggl is the main backstop for my time tracking. I’ve used their system off and on for a long time, but for this project I wiped all my old data so I can start fresh.

To run Toggl the best tool I’ve found is based on Apple platforms and is called Timery.

iPadOS Timery Dashboard
iPhone Timery Dashboard

Timery has excellent widgets support and I’ve set up a few Shortcuts to help make my billable working time easier to handle as I’ll have 2 timers to work with. I’ll continue to track my billable hours in Harvest.

Do you use time tracking to track most of what you do? If so, any tips to help me head into 2024 on the right foot?

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