Life Logging Trials, February 2018
I was curious to see how it would play out. I went in without too many preconceptions, and was curious if any of the data would surprise me.
I used Toggl, which is what I’ve used to track my professional and freelance work for the last several years.
I set up some basic categories, but kept it loose. I knew that not everything I would do would fit into a single category, and not everything would make sense. I didn’t go too hard on myself, but I tried to go back and categorize things by the end of the day.
The basic stuff I was trying to track: how much time it took me to get ready in the morning, commute times, TV time, and writing time. I was also curious if there were things I did during the day I didn’t realize. Was I spending time doing things I didn’t figure? Things like that.
I set up a few automatic things. Toggl doesn’t support Ifttt but it does support Zapier. So I made a few Ifttt applets that added calendar entries when I left home and work. Those calendar entries would then trigger in Zapier, triggering toggl. By doing this, I was able to fairly accurately1 track how long it took to get to and from work. But for the most part I manually started the timer.
I wanted to do it for about a month, but I ended up going about 6 weeks before I felt I’d had enough. What did I learn? Some mornings I take longer to get going than others. My commute is a little faster when it’s earlier. I watch a lot of TV, probably too much, but I’m often doing other things while watching TV (time tracking apps are not built for multitasking.) Most things were pretty much as I’d expected.
This kind of experiment may be more valuable with some kind of social or group component. For instance, if you’re tracking your food, you get a rough idea of caloric intake based on other people’s findings. What I didn’t learn: Am I watching too much TV compared to other people (though I can assume). Can I cut my morning routine down somehow? Simply tracking the time (and checking on graphs) doesn’t necessarily give you action items to work on later.
I have learned one major thing, though. It didn’t feel as good not tracking my time until I spent 6 weeks tracking my time. This was not a fun one.
I found it impossible to track an entire day. Even after a month of tracking daily things, I would still get busy and move from activity to activity without remembering to log it in any way. I was just living my life. There is value in trying, but stopping to notice what you’re actually doing all the time is very difficult and can ruin the magic of living in the moment.↩