Efficiency Tracking – 3 Month Review

I started logging everything I did on 11/16/10. I did not miss logging an hour of activity for three consecutive months.

I created my last entry on 02/16/11 at 23:30:00 hours. I am finished with the exercise.

93 days covered. 1545 entries total. I learned a lot during the process. And I have to tell you, it is a relief for it to be over.

Logging what you are doing does provide some benefits:

Forcing yourself to remember to write down what you are doing puts what you are doing in perceptive. Which tends to keep you from long periods of distraction. I mentioned this benefit here.

When I did analyze the data, I found some interesting insights. I would not have picked up on any of these trends had I not been keeping track of my hours. The truth is that I just did not spend a lot of time analyzing the data. Or at least I did not analyze it enough for the constant logging to be worthwhile.

But these benefits did not outweigh the costs:

It was just plain old annoying to be filling out a spreadsheet all the time. Before commuting, after a shower, down time after dinner and before work, out at a bar, family time, lunch on Sunday, etc. You name it, I logged it. It was painful.

And not only was it annoying, it was oppressive. There was this constant burden of attending to the spreadsheet. Some mornings I would wake up feeling guilty because I forgot to log things the night before. I would then spend time remembering what I did the night before and back fill the spreadsheet.

If you plan on embarking on a logging project like this one, make sure you pick a good tool to log with. I used Google Spreadsheets. It was very convenient to use because it was available wherever I had an internet connection. Work computer, home computer and mobile phone. The capability of logging anywhere was crucial.

However, I did not like Google Spreadsheets mobile site. It was difficult to input the data and not very easy to filter views. As a matter of fact, filtering is lacking on Google’s normal site too. But overall, it was a good enough tool for logging.

I am stopping the logs which is going to change things. I don’t think that I am going to miss the knowledge of how long it takes to brush my teeth every day. But I do worry that I am not going to be as productive as I was when I was logging.

So, I am going to just keep track of the hours that I work. There are a number of methods that I could use that won’t be as pervasive as what I had been doing. I am going to try a few out and see what happens.

There is a balance between doing and being aware of what I am doing. Focusing on one too much can lead me in the wrong direction. I will just have to find that balance.

4 comments

  1. I’ve enjoyed this blog and find myself researching and trying to learn more about the practice of mindfulness and its scientific support.

  2. Thanks, Jay!

    If you find any research, posts, blogs, etc. on the topics feel free to send them this way.

  3. Salamander

    There is a balance between doing and being aware of what I am doing. Focusing on one too much can lead me in the wrong direction. I will just have to find that balance.

    Doing, and only doing, is like a machine with imprecise inputs that creates an irregular product. The machine doesn’t know what it did wrong, it just keeps making units of imprecision.

    Hyper-awareness of doing, considering the other extreme, can paralyze the act of doing anything! if you worry too much about fine tuning your methodology for a given project, you significantly delay publishing a product, and run the risk of never finishing a project at all.

    Tricky balance here. The more cerebral amongst us like to think a long while about how to do something. More impulsive individuals might have a high productivity, but a suspect result.

    I have to balance doing and awareness of doing almost everyday. Its rarely easy, or cut and dry.

  4. I am slowly coming out of the quagmire of constantly “fine tuning my methodology”.

    It is a consistent theme in this blog. I am always writing about different ways that I am convincing myself to just take action rather than think about how I am going to take action.

    I do it so often that I wonder if my writing about getting out of that quagmire is just another way that I am staying in it. But at the same time, writing is me actually doing something.

    AHHHHHHH! Head explodes.

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