04 Jun

what i’ve learnt from using a time tracking app

I spend a ridiculous amount of time dealing with email.

I always knew this. Everyone spends too much time on email, right?

But earlier this semester I asked my students to track their time spent on social media for a week and I decided to track my time too. I started using RescueTime to track how I spend my time generally, not just on social media. It’s been enlightening.

I’m not going to show you how many hours I logged last month (because it’s actually a bit embarrassing and it’s also not accurate because I don’t have RescueTime on my other computer) but I am going to show you the percentage breakdown of my time on my primary laptop for May. Here it is.

Screen Shot 2016-06-04 at 4.54.44 PM

See that 32% for communication and scheduling? That is basically time spent in Outlook.

The 10% social networking is almost exclusively teaching related (posting announcements on course Google+ sites, responding to questions on Google+), and is basically the same as email except that I’m talking to a bunch of people at once.

There have been weeks since I started using RescueTime that I clocked more than 30 hours on email, and it’s pretty much always around the 20 hour mark.

Perhaps this would be okay if the time I was putting in meant I was living my inbox zero dreams, but the reality is I’m about to bunker down for the night to process a massive email backlog and I have to do this every couple of weeks. I try to stay on top of my email, but it’s an uphill battle.

The other thing I’ve learnt is that I don’t spend enough time writing – something else that I already knew, but it’s interesting to see the extent of the problem. Only 13% of my time last month was spent on design and composition, which is where writing sits. And it’s also where time I spend in PowerPoint is logged, and I use PowerPoint quite a lot to prepare lecture slides. Which means my writing time is basically non existent.

I need to do something to change the way I spend my time. I’m just not sure what! But knowing the extent of the problem is definitely a motivator to fix it.

Anyway, I know I’m not alone in the struggle to balance the time I spend on communication with the other aspects of my job. So I wanted to write this post as an encouragement to try time tracking tools, because even if you think you know how you use your time, seeing a graphic breakdown is pretty powerful.

#blogjune 3/30