Hello Sebastian! How are you? :)
So I decided to follow your advice on time tracking and made a template for myself:
Woke up at:
Hygiene (Brushed, Cleaned, Shaved):
Early Maintenance (Mail, News, Facebook, Forums, Work):
Workout (30m) :
What do you think about it?
Also I have a question about your beginnings with time tracking. I'm having a rough time tracking time every day. It's like I do this one day and then skip for a whole week and then next day again and so on. Did you have these kind of trouble at the beginning too? If you did how did you get over it?
I would really appreciate your thoughts on this.
I am good, thanks! I'm banging this email out quickly before I'm en route to Saigon. Bye Singapore! It's been fun.
Let's talk about consistency with time tracking, and indeed, all habits in general -
"It's like I do this one day and then skip for a whole week and then next day again and so on. Did you have these kind of trouble at the beginning too? If you did how did you get over it?"
Yup, indeed I did. My first start at tracking was in January 2010 in Taipei, Taiwan. I read this excellent Lifehacker article on Jerry Seinfeld's method of writing jokes every day, called "Don't break the chain" - he would try to do a little jokewriting every day, no matter what, and then mark the calendar if he did.
Well, I implemented something like that, and I had amazing results that month. Really, January 2010 is one of the nicest months in my life. Damn near everything went right that month on all levels. Magnificent.
For some damn reason, Taiwan only gives Americans 30 days visa-free. It's, like, the only place I've been with visa waiver that only gives you 30. So I left after 30 days, sadly, because I loved Taipei. Really a great city. After that, I was in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, Thailand.
For some reason, I just stopped tracking after I was in transit. Then I kind of started again for 3-4 days, and then I didn't do it again for six months or so until I was in Korea.
I don't know, man. Us humans, we're kind of defective and stupid in some ways. We identify something that's really, really good for us. We do it for a while. It works really well, increasing quality of life, happiness, productivity, and gets us closer to our most important goals...
...then we stop doing it for some damn fool reason.
Can't explain it. Don't understand. It's kind of crazy and stupid.
So yes, I've had false starts. I have two big thoughts for you here -
1. Get something down. At the very end of the day, estimate what the day's breakdown is. Just open your file or notebook or whatever, and put something down. This isn't just for time tracking, it's for going to the gym, calling your Mom regularly, whatever that's important to you.
Like, if you're too worn out or sick or tired to go to the gym, go anyways, at least for 10 minutes. Go, do a super light workout, shower, go home. Then you haven't broken your general patterns and commitments. Breaking commitments completely makes it easier to break commitments completely more going forwards. But doing it just a little bit even strengthens the habit.
2. Start with the hard stuff.
This is actually my one critique of your time tracking, which I like but I have one issue with - don't start with "Mail, News, Facebook, Forums" - don't do that. Start with your non-deadline, expansive, important creative projects, your programming or hustling or whatever.
When you start with the easy, no effort stuff, it's far more likely the more important, more challenging stuff doesn't get done. So I'd move it around.
Final thought - answering some "yes/no" questions at the end of the day is very good for me. This is my current set of them -
Did I start the day in my planner instead of online?
Did I only check email when I was ready to write back immediately?
Did I only check a site once, then done with it?
Did I check "Current Targets" if I caught myself wasting time?
Did I prioritize books/good learning instead of mindless surfing?
Did I make war on procrastination?
Might be worth getting something like that. Just the first question, starting in the planner instead of online goes a long way towards making sure you track - because if not, you have to mark "No" - just make sure you do open it up at the end of the day at the very least, and write an ultra-short summary of the day. If you've fallen off track some, that's fine, but doing something goes a long way towards not getting negative inertia.
Cheers, and please update me on the time tracking with how it goes going forwards, best wishes.
Thanks for the reply, and it's an honor to be a part of your blog.
I do have a question though:
"This is actually my one critique of your time tracking, which I like but I have one issue with – don’t start with “Mail, News, Facebook, Forums” – don’t do that. Start with your non-deadline, expansive, important creative projects, your programming or hustling or whatever. "
Do you mean to place the 'harder' things above the others, or start my day with harder things? Because I've arranged the obligations like this:
Also I'll block a week from now in my calendar to get back to you on my progress. So we'll how it goes, if you don't get an update then it means I failed :)
"What gets measured, gets managed." - Peter Drucker
There is so much power in this quote. If you've never tracked yourself, you don't even know how much power there is in tracking. I couldn't even explain it adequately. You wouldn't believe me. You'd think I was exaggerating. The simple act of paying attention to something will cause you to make connections you never did before, and you'll improve the those areas - almost without any extra effort.
I'm not a believer in "free lunch" and I don't think the universe vibrates things to you just by thinking about them. But the closest thing to a free lunch getting vibrated to you by the universe is writing things down as they happen.
Before I go any further, I need to give you one piece of advice - start small and build up, so you don't overwhelm yourself. This is just being pragmatic. You want to scale up gradually, as I wrote up in "The Evolution of My Time/Habit/Life Tracking." You want to build small wins, lock them so they become automatic, and then expand.
I'd have a hard time convincing you of the power of tracking, so I'll just show you. I fill this out every single day.
I am on long down-swing and I think it's one of best things that could happen to me. I was in a point where I felt so bad with myself, so bad with being out of control that I can say I hit the bottom, emotionally at least. Why it is so good that I think it's the best thing that could happen? Of course not because it was / is enjoyable, it's one of those experience that you are glad you had but you would never put yourself into, unless you are a masochist.
When every thing's fucked up, you doubt. At the beginning you doubt that it will be like that for a long time and you think that correction is right over there. You've had some doswnings but they passed. Some shit happened in your life but it also passed. When downswing beats you over and over again, there is a point when you start that it's going to end. You think that it will be like that for ever. You doubt in yourself and think that your are not good enough, and it happen that because you suck. If it won't stop doing it you have a problem. You feel helpless and not in control. Even though it's part of variation and it will happen to anyone sooner or latter. They questions is not "is it going to happen?" but "When it's going to happen?"
Lately I've read in book that saying that "The Truth will set you free" is a bunch of BS and only doubt can set you free. Didn't understood what author meant until I start writing this post.... Doubt will set you free because at some point you'll have doubt in your believe system. I had wrong expectation and was thinking too much about long run. I was in a place where I was working a lot, worrying a lot about future in my free time, when I should rest and didn't enjoy life as much as I should.
I think the lesson is learned because I've understood that I need to think about the future twice a day. Every morning when I set up goals for a day, prioritize and check my long term goals, and every evening, when I make a summary. Thinking about it more often make more charm then good, and decrease quality of life a lot. So what if I won't be prepare enough, I have to let small bad things happen to focus on more important things and to enjoy the life. It's never perfect time or moment, the only questions is what are you going to do with it.
When you have high expectations, high ambitions and want big things from life sometimes you tend to feel miserable about yourself, and thinking that you are not good enough. This approach doesn't work for me lately, was feeling even worse on downswing so I adapted. Funny thing. Had 4 sleepless nights when I had many 'aha' moments about my life, about believes that does not work and I think it's because of meditation. I was willing to do literally everything to overcome downswing. I even started meditation / stretching body. When I've realized how much tension was in me, I overcome it and some of my believes changed, still don't know it's because of my body or my mind. I understand that all the time I had wrong expectations and my approach was pretty lame. Poker is great because it's so brutal that you have to face reality over and over again until you will get rid of all your demons.