Friday, December 14, 2012

An Update on Tracking My Time

You may recall back in September that I was bringing back time sheets to help myself manage my time between looking after my baby girl and doing schoolwork.  Now that a semester has passed, I can reflect on how that actually went.

Don't Forget To Punch In
Don't Forget To Punch In / Philo Nordlund

I did manage to keep track of my time usage quite accurately the entire term, which even I'm impressed by.  Granted, I did not use a stopwatch for long, but if anything, the times I recorded were less than actual time spent.  This week I decided to take a break from it since things are winding down for the holidays, but I have a tab in my Google spreadsheet for every week until now.

One of the most interesting things that has resulted from time tracking is seeing how many hours I put into research work and TA'ing.  I averaged about 20 hours per week, with 25 hours in really good weeks.  I admit this seems kind of low at first glance, even to me.  But it doesn't mean I worked 4 hours a day for 5 days.  Rather, 20 hours is the exact amount of time I spent on task after removing any and all distractions.  Put that way, it makes more sense.

Even if I am spending less time on research than before (which I don't think is true, to be honest), I have actually felt a lot more productive in terms of actually finishing things.  Just the act of writing down times has been a huge help in cutting out procrastination because I feel more accountable than ever (for example, I have somehow avoided withdrawal symptoms from not looking at Reddit at all for a few months!).  I've also gotten better at working on things in smaller bursts, which hasn't been easy when it comes to programming and paper writing.

All in all, the time tracking has obviously been very beneficial to me, so I'll give it another go next semester as well!

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