A couple of years back, in an effort to help determine why I was low on energy all the time, I started tracking how much time I was spending on work. As a Consultant, I don’t work the standard 9-to-5. I travel, I work on-site with clients, I work remotely with clients, and I fit the rest of my tasks in my schedule where and when I can. As such, I honestly didn’t know how much time it was taking me to do what I do.
So I created an Excel document, identified categories of tasks, and started tracking. Each day, at the bottom of my paper to-do list (yes, I create a daily paper to-do list), I would log the number of hours spent in each of my categories. Once or twice a week, I’d log those numbers in the spreadsheet.
I did this religiously, until about two weeks ago. I’d gotten behind on logging my hours. I had the paper copies, but they were in various places and notebooks. As I was gathering them all together, I started to think to myself “why am I doing this?”
No one at work cares (or even knows) that I do this. I’m salaried, so as long as I finish my tasks, no one cares how long it takes me. I won’t get paid more or less if I do this. It was just for me.
So I stopped. And it was amazing!
You see, because the integrity of this data was important to me, I had been using playlists of certain lengths to track my time. This also meant that if I got distracted by something non-work related, I would make sure to stop the playlist so that time away didn’t “count.” It was, in all honestly, a fairly rigid approach to managing my work. And I didn’t even know how much it was bothering me until I stopped.
Now that I’m not tracking, I can simply do whatever I feel is the most important next, be it personal or professional. For example, right now I have some prep work to complete for my session tomorrow morning. But I’m doing this first. And that’s ok. I’ll do this now and then do the next thing next.
But before I go down the rabbit hole of all the amazing benefits this new approach has brought me, I want to emphatically state that tracking worked. That’s right. Tracking my hours was a really good thing for me for a long time. I needed to know how much time I spent on my job; I needed to see it in black and white. And I did.
But I’ve changed. My job has changed (for one, I’m not spending nearly as much time on it as I used to). And so the structure that at one point was incredibly valuable is now restrictive. So I let it go.
That’s the point I wanted to make. I could go on and on about various ways to structure your life. But I think we would all agree that what works for me won’t necessarily work for you. To add to that, I would say that what worked for the You of Yesterday won’t necessarily work for the You of Today, or the You of Tomorrow. We grow, we change, we encounter and overcome new challenges on a regular basis. As we grow, let’s let our structures, habits, and tools grow with us.
See you at the finish line!
-The Jack of Spades