Time Management Improved By Measurement

Can measuring what we spend our time on make us better at time management? Can it make us more mindful of how we spend it? So that we can spend our time better. In this case better would mean increasing the probability of desired outcomes.

I recently did an experiment with myself where I measured every activity including getting a cup of coffee, eating and sleeping.

I wanted to answer two questions in doing this; how do I currently spend my time? And is there anything I can remove or cut down on to leave room for other things that I find more valuable?

The answer I found was that I spent quite a lot of time walking and exercising. 6 hours each per week. I know walking and exercising is good in general. But do I really need to spend that much time in order to get the benefits? This insight in combination with reading Tim Ferris’ 4 Hour Body made me realize that the answer to that question is probably no. I can probably spend less time and get the same benefits.

This is why I’m currently following the Occam’s Protocol workout regime. The main idea with it is to reach the minimum effective dose of exercise and not more. It saves time. Last time I was at the gym I spent 15 minutes doing exercises instead of 45 minutes. And I go less often now. All in line with this protocol. If the results are the same or better, I will free up a lot of time for other stuff.

When it comes to walking, the idea I have is to get a bike. This will further save time. The walking I do is mainly to the office and then back home every weekday. It’s about 40 minutes one way. Getting a bike will shave that to about 10 minutes one way. That is 1 full hour saved every day. And the exercise on a bike might not be one fourth as effective. I might still want to enjoy a walk a little now and then. But having the option of cutting the time by a factor of four will be very beneficial.

These are two quite concrete actions that I’m taking or am about to take based on the data from this experiment. Another interesting point is that being conscious about the fact that I was measuring my time made me think more about how I spent it. I didn’t want to just sit with my phone doing nothing (which can be something I fall into and regret later) while the timer was running. I was rather doing something else. Like reading, learning something, planning something or meditating if I was too tired to do the above. Therefore I believe that just the act of measuring what we spend time on can make us spend time on things more valuable to us. Combining this with analysis and reflection, can yield quite significant improvements. It can make us better at time management.

There are apps for this kind of measurement available which makes it quite easy. I haven’t found one yet that is great and also free, but you can probably find something suitable in your app store.

If you haven’t done the experiment yet, what do you think you will find? If you have done it, were there any surprises? Are there any actions you will take to make changes? Hopefully you will be able to make improvements in your time management to help you reach your goals.

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