The unexamined life

Sun 05 December 2010

Not too long ago, I I read a book on Time Management. Well, a month into my new job, I think the routine has settled down enough to take another look. The transition from part-time to full time only took 10 hours out of my week, but feels like more. So this past week, I decided to keep track of where my time was going.

There's a lot of potential sources for this. I could self track, or refer to the many ways I generate timestamped data in life. Browser history, for example. The Wii also keeps a calendar of play time, though it discards some useful information like timestamps. I also installed arbtt, but haven't looked into how to use it much. But it's dutfully recording! There's also IRC logs to parse and in the future I might also turn the phone into a location logging device, but haven't yet. So for the most part, planned out the week in advance with Evolution's calendar and adjusted as the week went by to keep track of time spent, in 15 minute increments.

The results

I won't be sharing the gory details of where and when I was doing things with the internet (Sorry 4square!). But it's worth writing down a few things:

  • Work: 40.25 hours. We have a separate time tracker tool at work that analysis tools might help me populate, once I dig into projects.

  • Sleep. Nothing unusual or unhealthy here. A bit surprised because I normally sleep quite late in the absence of an alarm. I think the morning road noise and south facing bedroom window contribute a bit here.

  • Podcasts. I probably listen to too many money-related podcasts: Marketplace, Marketplace Money, Planet Money, Freakonomics Radio, the Economist, and Econtalk. In total, I watched 10 hours of podcasts. Some of that was multitasking but most wasn't.

  • TV. When planning, I decided to cut out The Daily Show/The Colbert Report, in favor of finishing 6.002 lectures. And since House was off until next year, that was a nice hour gained. What's left is so spare it's almost worth just cutting off cable altogether. I did use a DVR to record things and skip commercials.

  • Video Games. Feels like a looooot, but the wii records and Evolution indicate it was only 15 hours. A lot of that was today, in a last ditch effort to finish a Mario game.

  • Internet time. A lot of this was reading and writing writing AskMefi answers, which take way longer than I ever anticipate when I start them. But I did get about a 40 percent "best answer" rate this week, so there's at least that!

The rest was mostly dining, and waste like commuting and such. And adjusting the calendar and writing this post. In case you didn't think the above was sufficiently neurotic, I did spend a bit of time on my monthly budget review.


With this baseline established, I can now look at tweaking things. I don't spend much time multitasking podcasts with anything but web browsing, so that's a possible time saver. I could save an hour by compressing podcasts 10 percent. Just as effective though, would be to ditch some of the econ podcasts. Probably Marketplace Money, because it's long and contains a lot of reruns. And maybe Freakonomics Radio, if it contents are going to be embedded in another podcast.

The Stewart/Colbert combo is good but time intensive, and just planning alone saved me 4 hours a week by cutting them out.

While I got arbtt running, I haven't taken the time to effectively query it, and the default report is a bit confusing. And I outta figure out how to Mozilla's history is stored so I can automatically chart long browsing sessions.

And of course, I need to get out more. Maybe when it's warmer.

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