Why I Track my Time

I have always tracked how I spend my time. Whether I was doing it to track time for a future invoice to a client, or for self-improvement, time tracking has always been a thing for me. (Those are the only two reasons time should be tracked: making money, or looking for areas to improve.)

For me, at my current stage/phase/place in life, time tracking is meant to identify areas that I want to improve (personal and business).

On a personal level I am tracking time in the following “projects” (in Toggl):

  • Family
  • Writing
  • Reading
  • Sleep
  • TV

And then, for each item above, I have goals that I want to see happen over time (thus tracking my time so I can track my progress towards those goals). These goals are primarily Monday through Friday, weekends are extremely flexible.

  • Family - I want to see this hit at least 3 hours every day
  • Writing - Although I don’t do enough of it, a “writer” is what I have considered myself to be, and what I want to be. Goal is at least 1.5 hours each day. This will go up over time and a lot of writing will be spent on a business that I am in the midst of starting. But, for now, personal writing time is what I am looking at with this item.
  • Reading - Something I love to do, as with writing, but always put off for continuing to work into the wee hours of the night. I want to do at least 1 hour of reading (primarily fiction) every night before bed.
  • Sleep - Goal here is a minimum of 7 hours, and not much more than that.
  • TV - I want to see this go down and hopefully stick to the weekends (starting with Friday evening). I don’t have a trend for time spent watching TV during the week, but I have done it quite frequently the past few weeks just based on how disjointed my schedule/routine has been.

For business tracking I am only focusing on tracking time spent on a business that I am starting. It is an online cigar retail website which will have over 1,000 products when it is “finished”. I am currently in the phase of building the website and populating the product database with products and all of their associated variations. My primary areas of focus at a high-level are running the business operations and managing the website (and all of the connected services (customer service, transaction emails, credit card processing, etc). My wife is handling marketing and will also primarily handle pick/pack/ship.

Anyways, that is just some context.

I am tracking time related to everything I do currently for the business as we are ramping up. Over time I hope to see less and less time tracked to areas that are not my primary area of focus (marketing, shipping, etc) and more time spent on a continual improvement process for the website itself.

I also want to see time spent on the business as we start get back to a sane level. Lately I have been putting in anywhere from 30 to 40 hours each week on this project on-top-of a full-time job. That cannot continue. It just can’t. And so I am capping myself at 10 hours each week, Monday through Friday. Putting a cap on my time will help me to spend it much more wisely and efficiently, and will enable me to meet all of the other obligations and goals I need to meet.

So that’s time tracking for me: personal improvement and accountability.

Aaron Aiken @aa