Jan 3, 2008


I read this great article about productivity and working smarter instead of harder and it asks a favor to start. It asks that I keep track of each 15-minute period in my days. Then categorize each segment at the end of the tracking period as "daily definites" (things I have to do like travel from point a to point b, sleep, eat, etc.), "distractions" (excessive email checking, IM, napping-- er, okay I probably haven't napped since the 1970s, tv, etc.) and "goal-oriented actions" (things that actually bring me a step closer to achieving something I'm after.)

And, I'll be doing this for one week. The theory in this is that we might think we know where our time-drains are, but we can't know for sure until we see it all in black and white. So, can I just tell you, I'm only halfway through day one and it's already an eye-opener?

I helps that I stripped my goal list down to the biggies that I want to accomplish this year. Six biggies. And, I'm telling you, there is a sea of difference between a goal list and a to do list. I think I've mish-mashed mine up for years and gotten bogged down and overloaded. So, I'm simplifying. Six biggies. And, you're going to hear about them all as they come. In fact, one, you're going to hear about tomorrow. How do you like that?

Seriously, it sound tedious and irritating, but I have this tiny eStickies note open on my desktop and every fifteen minutes I make a tiny note as to what the hell I've been doing for the last fifteen minutes. Twice today, I've already gone, "Ohhhh, that's where the time went."

Of course, I am running around borrowing non-frozen showers, so there is that. Sigh.


Momma Sparkypoo said...

I had to do this at one of my jobs. It was a pain in the arse. And I felt it was rather demeaning. But I guess if you're doing it voluntarily, it might have some merit. It's a whole different exercise when you have to hand over a summary of your day to someone else. Especially when you're of "a certain age" and have to make more trips to the ladies than your more youthful co-workers. ;)

Momma Sparkypoo

Amy Guth said...

They MADE you do it? Ohhh, I would be so mad. Demeaning, indeed. I hope you padded it with over-informative details. "9:00-9:15, sat on toilet, used eight squares of toilet paper, pulled up falling crotch of pantyhose, picked nose, adjusted bra strap, hummed Oscar Mayer Weiner song, made mental note to sock that one guy in the face who decided to make me account for my whole day", etc. :)

Amy Guth said...

Heh, Sparkypoo, your Mum said "arse".

sparkypoo said...

I had to do this once in a job too. In fact, I had a woman sitting next to me tracking my work. It's so asinine. I don't understand how any employer thinks logging every 15 minutes of your day doesn't DECREASE your productivity?
Anyway, I hope it is more useful to you personally than it was professionally for either of the Sparkypoos. ;)

joshua said...

Rer! Catfight!

"I hope it is more useful to you personally than it was professionally for either of the Sparkypoos."

Don't you mean professionally, Guth? You work, right? BURN from Sparkypoo. Rer! Rer!

Momma Sparkypoo said...

Amy, you're a hoot!

Amy Guth said...

Oh, I am using it professionally. I decided that a week potentially being less-productive while tracking my time is worthwhile to uncover the source of "time drains" or just in the name of working smarter.

Wait, no, actually, I decided a day would be worthwhile. After only about an hour, I decided that it wasn't too cumbersome and that it was eye-opening so I decided to commit to the entire week.

sparkypoo said...

Sorry, I did not mean a slight to Amy by saying personally rather than professionally. I am assuming she is including both in her day to day productiveness, and not under the eye of a watchful boss. i.e. she is more likely to be sidelined by a faulty shower in her day to day work than most people who work in an office. But that is not to say her work is less...uh...worky than people who work in an office.
Please excuse me, I have been sick for the past two days and my brain is a bit foggy still.

Jason Pettus said...

I know this makes a lot of people roll their eyes, but it sounds like you could really benefit from a time-management system out there called "Getting Things Done" (GTD), a system I myself have been using for three years now and am extremely happy with. Created by a former '70s buddhist nomad named David Allen, it essentially posits the same thing you're mentioning here -- that in reality, most of us have a lot more free time than we realize, and that not only do we waste a lot of it (what your 15-minute stickies this week are proving), but that most of us aren't as efficient as we could be on what we actually DO sit down and do, because of simultaneously juggling in our heads the million other things we have to still do.

GTD doesn't force you to change your thinking about the world or to alter your existing daily routine, which is why so many people like it; it also doesn't force you to go buy a bunch of expensive new crap, with it instead being quite easy to manage your entire system using just a pocket notebook and a pen. And then finally, there's not much requirement needed to actually learn the system either -- you can learn everything you need to know simply by picking up the "Getting Things Done" book by Allen, or better yet by checking it out of the library. It's a remarkable tool for creative professionals, designed specifically for creatives by a former creative; that's something about GTD that I think often gets lost, in that it's become such a giant cult hit among the traditional business world.