A Third Time Tool and a Helpful Author.

Going up stairs to train platform​I wrote yesterday about two tools that I’m finding to be useful: SwipesApp and Evernote.

Today I’m writing about a third tool that I knew about and had tried to use before and also about the author who brought it to my attention. I’m trying not to make the tool into the Next Big Thing, a mistake I often make. The tool is called “Toggl,” and I had first heard about it from an author and blogger I follow named Laura Vanderkam, a time management consultant.

I thought I had read that she’s been tracking her use of time for 14 years, but I just spent a little chunk of time looking at her blog and don’t find that to be true. She did track her time for a full year at one point, though, and she has hosted a one-week time-tracking challenge that I signed up for and then promptly dropped. I was trying to be way too specific about categorizing the 15-minute chunks. She had said that it didn’t matter what tool you used; what mattered was doing it, but she had also mentioned Toggl. Again, as with the time challenge itself, I took a look and quickly decided it wasn’t for me.

But as I’m moving more and more into the idea of a blog-as-business model instead of a blog-as-hobby, I’m realizing more and more how much time I waste. Since I really do like having apps on my phone, I decided to give Toggl another try. I’m not going to give a full description of how it works, at least not right now. I started it up yesterday and made some entries, then decided that I’d messed it up and so deleted everything. Then today I wanted to start being able to generate weekly reports, but I needed to set up a free account for that and ended up losing my data. So now I’ve started yet again, with the writing of this post as my current task. You can organize your time use into “projects” (this tool can be used for businesses that have billable hours) and pick a color for each one. So what I’m doing right now is under the “current blog work” project heading with the color orange, which sort of matches the main color of my website. Neat, huh?

The reason I like Vanderkam is that her mantra is not “make the most of every minute in a totally driven way” but “make sure you’re spending your time the way you really want to spend it.” She starts out one of her books (and I just spent another chunk trying to find out which one) with a description of herself with her four (!) children at a strawberry-picking farm. She’s struck with the motto on the boxes they’ve been given to carry their harvest: “Strawberry season is short. Make the most of it.” I won’t belabor the point; I’m sure it’s clear.

So we’ll see if I stick with the idea of tracking my time. I’ve never done so before, largely because it’s so irritating to realize that hey, if I quit working in order to check out the latest political post, I have to put it in the log. It is exactly the same thing that people who are watching what they eat are supposed to do: keep a log. So then that cookie doesn’t look so attractive, since it has to be recorded.

Even if the very thought of logging your time makes you lightheaded, I’d very much advise that you subscribe to Vanderkam’s blog. I don’t always read her entries, but even the titles are little nudges. She’s encouraging and humorous, and she tells lots of stories about her daily life.

Toggl says that I’ve spent 30 minutes writing this post, although I had spent some time on it back before the big wipeout. It’ll take some more time to find a picture on my free-pic fave Pixabay.com, put in the links, get the whole thing actually on my website, and then post it on Facebook and LinkedIn. (At least Twitter is automated; I need to explore getting the other two switched over too, but we’ll save that until we move the site to WordPress.) Somewhere in there I need to go do some laundry, but I won’t bother too much about keeping track of the three minutes it takes to put the wet things in the dryer and a new load in the washer.

I’m going to try very hard to keep track of time this week, starting as of 3:30 PM today. How about you? Have you ever tried tracking your time? What did you learn?

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