After taking the 2022 Time Tracking Challenge last week, a number of people have asked me how they should count time spent multi-tasking. If they listened to an audiobook while driving, or exercising, is that reading, or is it one of the other categories? Or if they are cooking dinner while supervising children, what is that?
This seems like it could be quite a conundrum, but on some level it doesn’t have to be. Figuring out categories that are “mutually exclusive and comprehensively exhaustive” only matters if you are trying to create a cool pie chart that adds up exactly to 168 hours. If you are doing that, then you can create separate categories for “reading/driving” vs. “driving” or “reading.”
This can be fun though it can also be really challenging. In many cases, all we really want to know is how many hours we are spending on categories of interest. So, if you are interested in how much time you spend reading, and you note that some reading time was “just” reading and other time was listening to audiobooks while doing something else, you can count it all as reading and congratulate yourself on that number. If you are interested in physical activity, you can note time spent on “pure” exercise and also the walking meetings you set up. You can give yourself credit for all those hours, even though the walking meetings are obviously going to count as work hours too. If you added it all up, it might be more than 168 hours, but it’s OK.
The reason to track specific multi-tasking time is if you feel like this is something you’d like to change. If you’re spending a lot of time working while also supervising children, and it is feeling not terribly efficient, that might be worth tracking, so you can figure out any potential solutions.
What time most often winds up multi-tasked for you?
Photo: From a wintry sunset walk. No multi-tasking on this one! Well, unless you count taking photos for my blog as work…