The Purpose of Time Tracking

I started tracking my time. Every minute I spend working is nicely administrated, aggregated and analyzed with a simple tool (Time Recording for Android) on my smartphone. Reading, writing, emailing, traveling, preparing presentations, scheduling courses… even the packing of my bags does not escape the scrutiny of my personal time sheet.


Well, I did not start tracking time because I needed time calculations.

I started tracking my time because I want to improve my behaviors.

“What gets measured gets managed.”

– Peter Drucker

As soon as we measure things, people start paying attention. I want to pay better attention to what I’m doing.

  • Why am I still doing things I should delegate to others?
  • Why am I doing things in inefficient and ineffective ways?
  • Why am I carelessly wasting time with task-switching?
  • Why am I committing to work that will bring little value?

Paying better attention to what I’m doing should enable me to increase the value I can generate for others and for myself. And tracking my time should help me to pay better attention to what I’m doing.

“The purpose of time tracking is not to track time. The purpose is to improve the work.”

– me

It’s just a trick, really.

Jerry Weinberg suggested to start the habit of writing a journal, to help you reflect on your own behaviors. But, because I love numbers and statistics, tracking my time comes more natural to me than writing a journal. Maybe for you it is a memo-recorder, or a webcam, or a very observant and critical spouse.

“Continuous self-reflection is hard. Better to piggyback it onto another habit that comes easy to you.”

– me, again

After a few weeks or so I’m sure I will not be able to resist the temptation to calculate the average time per day I spend on reading, writing, traveling, etc. But I also track the minutes I spend (or waste) on administration and statistics. And I made sure one of the categories in my time recorder is called “Narcissism”.

p.s. I spent exactly 60 minutes writing, preparing and publishing this blog post.

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