Micro Time Study

Of late, I’ve been feeling accomplishment-less. So I decided to conduct a micro time study to figure how exactly how I’m utilizing all of my minutes and see if that allocation was efficiently contributing to what I was trying to achieve. The first step was in identifying exactly what I was trying to achieve so I listed out what I wanted to accomplish in a one-week time frame; Wednesday morning to Wednesday morning.

1. Create warehouse productivity reports with Google Apps Scripts. Take data from Google Sheets and feed into front-end user-friendly dashboard.
2. Each day, run 30-60 minutes and jump rope for 5 minutes.
3. Reduce beforeheshrugged.com to one page rather than three.
4. Finish quizzes in Practical Machine Learning class.
5. Produce drafts of practical machine learning and data products projects.
6. Continue reading warehouse management book.

Goals set. Next, I decided to track all of my activities with the iPhone app called HoursTracker. Easy to re-purpose and at relatively low cost (free to start, $9.99 for unlimited jobs and entries). The app also allowed me to export my data to a csv file which was the icing on the cake. I tagged everything I did and you can have a look at the raw data if you want which includes all my commentary. After some data munging, I reconsidered my initial theory on why/how I wasn’t ‘achieving my goals.’ I had originally surmised that I wasn’t getting done what I was trying to get done because I wasn’t spending enough time on those ventures. Not true.

Graphically, below is what I saw at the end of the week. Only free time in the treemap below has subfields. Sleeping and working are what that are (productivity at work is another time study on my horizon… ). Click on the black bar to zoom back out.

This was a great learning experience. The lessons for me were many. First, I didn’t appreciate the importance of resting the human body — it takes a lot of time to get us recharged to attack the next day. Next, running takes much more of me/us mentally, emotionally, and physically than it does take minutes out of our day. That’s a strange realization. Third, I didn’t achieve my goals — or at least it doesn’t feel like I achieved my goals. I kind of did #1 and #5… but what constitutes a draft? I had something, but I’m not sure it was the draft I had in mind. I achieved #2, but definitely did not achieve #3. I read 5 pages in #6… does that count as fulfilling my goal? I believe my lack of clarity derives from 2 reasons.

The first is definitely not lack of time. In fact, I spent 51% of my waking, non-work hours, on goal-oriented activities. So, the first reason I believe is that there is a significant difference between long term goals and short term goals. I spend a lot of time during the week working toward long-term goals (maintain a great marriage, run a sub 2:20 marathon, accumulate wealth, be #1 at my job, stay healthy and live a long/prosperous life, etc.) rather than short term ones so that feeling of accomplishment is delayed and elusive. Secondly, my short term goals listed above are more qualitative than they are quantitative. It is hard to know if you’ve achieved vague goals. In sum, it makes me realize that A) I need to keep reminding myself of the long term accomplishments I am striving for and B) I need to set concrete benchmarks for myself to understand if I have achieved something or not.

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