2022 Time Tracking Challenge: Wrap-up thread

Congratulations to everyone who tracked time this week! Making it through 168 hours is quite an accomplishment. Even if you had to approximate a few hours, you now have good data to work with. If you want to spend your time better, it’s helpful to know where your time is going now. Otherwise, how do you know if you’re changing the right thing?

I archived my log from the week of January 10th this morning, as I do every Monday morning. I took a few minutes to reflect on it, and since I’ve been posting here, I added up a few numbers (after almost 7 years of this I don’t tally every week, I just spot check here and there).

A few findings: I spent 36.25 hours working. That’s probably typical. My workdays were more interrupted than usual because of some during the day stuff (massage, kid doctor appointment, furniture deliveries and contractors). On the other hand, I spent more evening time writing blog posts than normal because of the time tracking challenge!

I spent a not-surprising 52 hours sleeping. Longtime readers know that I tend to average 7.3-7.4 hours of sleep per day over any longer period of time. This is my sleep set point. When you divide 52 by 7 you get 7.4 hours/day.

The good news is that this week my tallies were pretty consistent day to day. I slept 7.0 hours/day on Monday and Tuesday, 7.5 hours/day Wed-Friday, and then 7.75 hours/day over the weekend. It feels much better to sleep about seven and a half hours every night than to sleep, say, 5 hours one night and 10 hours the next. We cannot always control this, but as my little guy settles down on the sleep front, I’m trying to keep some good habits, even if I don’t have to. My bedtime is 10:30 during the week. I allow myself to move it by an hour on weekends but no more. I did not make it every night during the week, but I fell asleep between 10:45-11:15 most nights, which made the 6:30 alarm during the week feel mostly fine. It’s not reasonable to expect to sleep much past 7:00 on weekends with the toddler and the dog, but the fact that I did make it past 7:00 on Saturday and Sunday is pretty exciting.

I got 3.75 hours of exercise that I noted as such. I only ran two days (totaling about 5 miles) but I walked for at least 15 minutes every day, and usually a bit more. I went ice skating on Sunday for an hour so that was an exciting bit of physical activity. In keeping with my Tranquility by Tuesday rule, “Move by 3 p.m.” I tended to do this physical activity right between 2:30/3:00 most days. On Saturday my walk was a little later (3:30) but oh well. I’d note that I’m getting well over 10,000 steps a day right now as I run up and down the stairs unpacking stuff but I haven’t been counting that as “exercise.”

I read my Shakespeare every day and have been writing at least 100 words in my free-writing file. This is simple enough to do during the work week. On weekends I try to do it during any toddler-free time I have OR I read on the Kindle app while feeding him.

I played the piano three times, and sang in choir on Sunday morning. Since “Three times a week is a habit” I can call myself a musician! In other personal time, I got a massage — a nice treat for the week — and enjoyed some magazine reading by the fire.

In terms of family relationships, I spent some time with my husband — a lunch together during the week and a date night out on Thursday. I got some one-on-one time with each of the kids, though some more or less than others. The two Starbucks trips with the 14-year-old were a nice way to spend time better during other kids’ activities. I noted a half hour spent with the 12-year-old one afternoon after school, plus our math time, and the 10-year-old and I went to her friend’s party on Saturday together. The younger kids tend to get time just by nature of needing more attention. Each kid did get at least some fun thing – having a friend over or going to a friend’s. The 7-year-old had his Nerf War event on Friday and will be getting together with friends today to celebrate his birthday (so not during the week, but I planned it during the week in question…)

We also had three family dinners with all of us sitting down together: one on Monday night, one on Wednesday night, and one (quick quick quick) on Sunday. The other nights featured activities or people being gone otherwise for some reason or another so people ate in sequence.

I aim to do “One big adventure, one little adventure” each week. I’m not sure that I had a big adventure per se, but the family trip to the dino & dragon stroll was something. Ice skating is something out of the ordinary and fun too. Perhaps a massage and a Thursday night date night could qualify as little adventures as well — or the unusual number of teen Starbucks trips. Do a handful of small adventures add up to a big adventure?

There were some low moments too — the toddler refused to go down last night until 11 or so, as happened one other night during the week as well. The van not starting, the fiasco of the wall paper peeling, the dog getting out and pooping on a new rug and such definitely made me not-so-thrilled. My kids probably spend too much time on screens, and I spent a lot of mindless time scrolling around on Twitter and Instagram. I feel like I fit in a lot of good things but I still do waste time. The house is not even close to unpacked. I am having a hard time staying motivated, though we do get a little done here and there. The big boys both got their mattresses/bed frames delivered so everyone is up off the floor, which allows for more cleaning up. Some happened. Some didn’t. I get tired of nagging. Trying to get everyone in the car by certain times in the winter is also a huge energy suck. The house is also about 4-5 minutes farther from at least some of the things we go to, so I feel like we’re running late everywhere as it’s hard to shift gears mentally on when to leave for stuff.

Anyway, that was the week that was. How did time tracking go for you? I hope you learned something interesting!

Photo: A blank time log, ready to start the next week!

11 thoughts on “2022 Time Tracking Challenge: Wrap-up thread

  1. As always an insightful exercise. My works tallies are way down, but this is seasonal and likely related to a holiday weekend (I usually do some work on Sunday afternoons but I slated it for today instead). My sleep this week was way down. My husband and son are traveling over seas this weekend and waiting to hear that their Covid tests were negative this morning so they could head home (they are negative for Covid and en route) combined with a massive windstorm last night meant I only slept 2 hours by 5 am this morning. Hopefully, the travels arrive home in a timely manner so I can hear about their trip and get into bed at a reasonable hour.

    I will probably track another week on March/April when work has picked up a bit. I will also plan for a slower first month or so of the year with some sort of project in 2023.

  2. Hi Laura thanks for running the time tracking challenge I always really enjoy it! I compared my findings for 2022 to 2021 and have a few wins including cutting down my weekly TV watching time from 20 to 12 hours!
    One of my aims from last year was cutting down my screen time doing emails socials etc which I have successfully done. In this year’s challenge I also found time for an evening art class and an online book club webinar so I’m glad about that. This year I would like to work on sleeping more (I also got about 7 hours daily last week but am feeling tired so think I need more!) I like your idea of having a set weekday bedtime and pushing it only a little later at weekends so will try that!

  3. Hello! This is the first time I’m doing it in earnest (although not very detailed). The first takeaway is that my days out of the weekend are very similar (very boring?), especially since Covid and WFH (no office days due to Omicron since mid-December). Logging activities made me more aware of the time I’m spending on my phone, but also the need of making breaks in my workday. I am an analytical person so I want to do more breakdown between time alone / time with husband / kids / friends / colleagues / other people. Due to WFH I think this has gone totally out of balance and I miss it. Can you suggest other ways to analyze the results for the newbies?

    1. @Pauline – congrats on doing the challenge! It’s a good idea to look at any category that you think you’d like to study more in depth. So if there’s something you feel you spend too much time on or too little time on, figure that out. Then look at your schedule and see how you could scale up the stuff you’d like to do more of. It doesn’t have to be much. Often, finding another 30-60 minutes per week can make a big difference! Same with chucking stuff. If you can claw back 30 minutes over the course of a week from something you don’t like doing that can honestly change the entire experience.

  4. Long time reader, first time tracker! I posted about it on my blog this morning. I was pretty broad with my categories (work, kids, meals, personal time, read, etc). I know you say there is no normal week, but last week was really abnormal as our baby got tubes on Monday and then was home sick with us on Thur/Fri. So my # of hours worked was so low, even though I traded off caring for him with my husband on Thur/Fri. I took Monday off since our day started so dang early and our other son was home quarantining due to a covid exposure at school. But when I was working, dang I was focused, so it’s almost like I got twice the amount of work done during those hours than I would have during a normal week as I really put my head down. I spent so many hours at the hospital/doctor’s office, though. And I was up alot during the night with the baby. But it aligned with how I feel I spend my time and supported that I have a reason to feel so dang tired since I was up with the baby so much. I think I’d like to do this annually to get a sense for how the way I spend time shifts. I feel like life is very much in “groundhog’s day” mode, outside of surgeries and kids being home sick. We aren’t doing much thanks to covid and me being high risk so the days feel pretty much the same, over and over. But year-over-year, things will likely/hopefully look a lot different!


    1. @Lisa- thanks for posting about your time logs! I liked the blog post – yep, time up with babies in the middle of the night can feel like forever. Here’s hoping that next year’s challenge shows that number at zero…

  5. I’ve learned so much from time tracking–both my own, and reading about other people’s! I track one week per quarter usually, and so decided to join in the “official” time tracking week with you and your readers to start off 2022. I loved how you reviewed every day, and focused on highlights. I didn’t do that this time, but am jotting it down for next quarter. I usually review at the end of the week, or not at all!

    One thing I find is that when I’m tracking my time, I tend to work harder! I want to be able to write down something “worthwhile,” probably because one of my personal issues is feeling like I don’t contribute enough. I take care of our home, our pets, and our meals (for myself, my husband, and my mother-in-law who lives with us) and work as a freelancer, so work tends to bleed into all days of the week and all hours of the day. I would like to spend more time doing deep work (to use Cal Newport’s phrase) instead of scattering my attention so much. I started by closing the tabs for my email and my blog feed reader while I’m working so I’m not distracted by notifications. This is a work in progress, but the time logs help be be more aware of this habit.

    And even though I’m sure I’ve heard you say this before, I appreciated the observation that mid-week is actually mid-day Thursday. I feel less behind than usual!

    Two things in response to your post: 1. Yes, I think that a few smaller adventures can add up to a big adventure, because sometimes it’s simply not possible to have a big adventure every week. It’s better to have a bunch of small ones than nothing at all.
    2. You generally have an accepting attitude towards what you accomplish and what you can’t, but just in case you’re feeling a little frustrated by the upheaval of the move, remember progress, not perfection! It will eventually all get done, and your lives will settle back into routine after the big change of moving.

    Thank you as always for your insights and for sponsoring this challenge.

  6. Really enjoying my tracking (doing it one week late!) and love your blog, newsletters and books. I’ve recommended TNCO to so many people on my team and others since it came out. One thing I’m finding is that on days when I have time set aside for deep work I squander it. Almost like having the time pressure finally removed, instead of seizing the moment to do meaningful work, I focus on mindless tasks like hacking through non-urgent emails. Are there any posts or specific chapters of books that speak to this literal waste of time and how to counteract it? Thanks for all you do!!

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