Measuring my activity

I bought a new audiobook this week that I’ve really been enjoying, “The 4 Laws of Financial Prosperity” by Blaine Harris, that’s been a great reminder of the importance of proper financial management in our lives. More importantly though, it’s also motivated me to start tracking my time on a daily basis for a few weeks. This is going to be an interesting experiment.

The messages in the book (so far, only about 1 1/2 hrs into it) aren’t really anything I haven’t known, read before and in fact written about here. For example:

  1. You have to measure something for it to improve (put another way, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”)
  2. Goals are absolutely essential to provide direction and feedback necessary to make progress

But the narrative around tracking and measuring, specifically tracking your spending, are (a) great reminders of how important it is to follow this proven principle of Measure your goalsfinancial discipline, and (b) it started me thinking about tracking my time for a few weeks to get a better picture of how productive I really am.

Ironically, I was looking at David Seah’s forms yesterday and thinking about how I would like to customize one of them to track my time each day. So I’m thinking forms, I’m thinking time management, I’m thinking measure your progress: It’s like something is trying to persuade me to do this. Well, allrighty then!

I’m only about 1 1/2 hours into the audiobook, but it’s making great traditional facts about achieving financial prosperity in a new way, as well as pointing out some new things I hadn’t considered. More importantly though, the recipe and processes described in the The 4 Laws of Financial Prosperity are similar to alot of the ideas you’ll read here.

I could stop listening to the audiobook now and I it would be worth the price, because it’s reminded me in new ways about the importance of tracking and measuring, and how many things this applies to:

  • Weight loss
  • Saving for retirement
  • Getting out of debt
  • Building new career skills
  • Developing a hobby skill

Anything that’s important to the quality and opportunities in life fits this model.

In my defense, I generally do a good job of time management and staying productive. I plan most days the night before, in writing. I know the important things I need to get accomplished, and I try to stay aware of staying in the Important and Not Urgent quadrant Steven Covey tells us about.

But the truth is, many times when I look back on the day I realize I spent alot of time on activities I didn’t plan on, and I missed some of the important stuff that really needed to be done to accomplish my bigger goals (writing my daily blog post, researching a new article idea, doing some important research for the website, etc).

So I’m making a commitment (in writing), to start tracking my time every day for the next 3 weeks. Each evening I’ll plan out what I think needs to get done, then I will track on paper how I spent my time.

I know, I know. You wouldn’t want to do this every day of your life. But occasionally this is a great way to get an accurate picture of where the time is really getting spent, and I’m Goal clockreally looking forward to doing it. This will (a) strengthen my self-discipline muscles, (b) make me more aware of how I’m spending my time, and (c) when I’m done, I’m going to summarize all the results and I bet I get an interesting perspective on how I might do better. Feedback leads to positive adjustments, and “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”.

Here’s an example of the form I drew up this morning for my 3 week self-imposed challenge. I know the picture sucks, I’ll try to retake it later with a better camera. The point is I’ve got a form to use to track the time dail.

New time tracking formThe idea to use radio buttons to track 15 minute intervals comes from the forms David Seah produces, and I’ve just “tweaked” it for my own preferences. This is obviously just a rough handwritten version, if I use it a couple of days and decide I like it I’ll attempt to make it look a little better (that should be easy!).

Anyway, that’s the deal. I promise to report an honest summary of how it went in a few weeks, starting today (noon – 1pm was to write this blog post. See, it’s working!).

In the meantime, if getting your financial affairs in order is on your mind, or if you know someone who could benefit from guidance in that area, I cannot recommend The 4 Laws of Financial Prosperity highly enough. As with most wisdom, it’s clear and simply reiterates many of the principles we already know (which tells me that the information is correct), but it does it in a compelling, persuasive way that just about everyone I know needs to hear. Especially younger people, who have the most to gain and can be saved from making the biggest mistakes early in their life. Send it to a teenager or new professional you know – I guarantee it will influence their decisions if they read or listen to it.

Check back in 3 weeks for the results. I will. 🙂

3 Responses to “Measuring my activity”

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