25th Hour, Life

Time Tracking in my Bullet Journal

As we move into midterm season at my school, there isn’t a ton of time to waste, but somehow I’ve found the day getting away from me. Since this seems to be a running theme for me every quarter, I’ve been looking for ways to improve my time management skills. Inspired by Kara from Boho Berry, I started including a Time Log in my Daily Spreads.

pintrest_time-tracking-in-my-bullet-journal

I’d been hearing about time tracking as a way to increase productivity for years. There are all these apps both for your phone and computer that can track your online time. I tried using Toggl for my computer last year, but I didn’t use it regularly for more than a week. I have a tendency to fixate on perfection, so seeing the exact number of seconds I was on Facebook or Instagram did more harm than good for me. It didn’t make sense to continue using this system.

When Kara over at Boho Berry posted a video about her time log on YouTube, I was intrigued. She tracks the time she puts into each kind of her work as well as personal development through the Toggl app on her phone, and then transfers that to her Bullet Journal at the end of her day. For her job, she has a lot of different roles so her color coordination scheme makes sense for her needs as well.

In addition to her time log, she also includes an ideal day time log in each of her dailies. She blocks out the hours during which she has meetings and other appointments that need to be kept. This was interesting to me because it seemed like a simple system.

Why Time Track in College

In high school every second of your school day is budgeted, so you only have to manage your time outside of school. For me this time, too, was jam-packed with sports and other activities.

College has much more free time, especially with only a few hours of class. This quarter, I don’t even have class on Fridays, which has been a challenge not to treat like an extra day off to go explore downtown Chicago.

Time tracking makes it easy to see how much time is spent doing homework outside of class. On nights when I decide to go out, it is clear both how it affects my sleep and my productivity. This system forced me to choose times for events and schedule every piece of my life. Some days if I decide to watch Gilmore Girls instead of doing work, it is clearly reflected in my time tracker.

Although time tracking is most often used by freelancers, the college schedule is a prime target for time tracking. It can take your productivity to the next level, and help you fit more in your day because you know where your time is going.

Developing a Time Tracking System for College

Once I knew I wanted to try time tracking, I started thinking about how I could take Kara’s system and change it to fit my life. I needed something that was easy to fill out, didn’t require much time, and fit my needs without making me feel overwhelmed.

Why I Decided Against Using an App

I liked the accuracy of the way Kara tracks her work time, but using an app didn’t work for me before because I would torture myself over a lost 30 seconds. I decided to keep my time more general.

Kara also splits every section of her business into a separate color, which makes sense for her needs. When I’m doing homework, I have a master list of tasks in front of me so there isn’t very much time lost to switching them. If I were to follow Kara’s lead and use Toggl to track individual classes, I worried I would end up opening my phone or computer and fall into a Social Media vortex.

It made the most sense for me to keep track of start and finish times, and then fill out the chunks of time later when I had time. While most apps require some kind of real time tracking, I found it was better for me to look back at my day that night or the next morning and track the time.

So, committed to using an analog tracker, I naturally looked to my bullet journal to see how I could incorporate it into my daily log.

Adapting the Layout to my Needs

I decided to adapt Kara’s ideal daily time log to be a time tracker. I tried tested several formats to figure out what made the most sense with my resources.

I debated over whether to use colored pens or stick to black ink. I had never really used color in my old bullet journal, so it was a real commitment when I decided to try using the 4 Caliber colored pens that I keep in my backpack for coloring graphs in Math and Econ class. Since I always had them with me, it was easy to include them in my work.

With the 4 colors, it limited the way I could block my time. I decided on 4 categories.

Sleep (blue)– One of my next steps to complete my goal of getting more than 6 hours of sleep a night was to track the number of hour of sleep I get every night. I figured the easiest way to do so was to include it in my time tracker instead of writing an hour amount in my habit tracker.

School (green)- I use green for both my classes, which conveniently also serves as a way to track my attendance, and the time I spend doing work. I also include any work I do for my extracurricular activities, this blog, and internship applications.

Extracurricular (pink)- I use pink to represent any planned extracurricular activity. This includes tutoring, meetings, social events, and meetings with friends. I find “extracurricular” is a really good catch-all category.

Exercise (orange)- I made a commitment this quarter to scheduling specific exercise for myself, and figured that it deserved its own designated category. This way it would stick out rather than be another extracurricular activity without a name.

These four categories were sufficient to fit all of my needs. I could have divided extracurricular activities into their respective colors (one for work, one for volunteering, one for the blog), but it made more sense with the resources I have available to group them all. For next month, I’m going to start coloring in any additional work I do that isn’t for my classes with pink instead. I think this will help me to monitor the amount of administrative time I spend on those activities and the blog.

Creating an Ideal Day and Tracking

In using the format that Kara uses for ideal day time tracker, I decided it would be valuable for me to block out the times I’d like to spend on certain tasks before I start my day.

I did this by outlining the hours of the day that I had events scheduled and would only fill them in if I actually complete that activity. I only do this for events that I have scheduled. I assume any free time I have should be spent on some kind of work, so I don’t block the rest of my schedule in green.

This blocking process allow me to see my day at a glance before I look into the specific events. It is more effective than my google calendar because it is color coded as well. It gives me a better understanding of what my day will feel like and is an important part of my planning routine.

 

Last week, I tried to go back to a week without a time tracker, and I felt the difference. I constantly felt lost in my day, as if I couldn’t find my place.

Sarah Kay, one of my favorite spoken word poets, has a poem called “Paradox,” that I kept thinking of while writing this post, so this week I will leave you with it.

Good luck making a life full of moments of knowing you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.

Xoxo, Rosana

 

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