Time Diary Experiment: Results! Yikes!

Time Journal

My time diary from part of one day. Messy, of course. The numbers on the far left side show computer time.

Last week my friend Kristen (The Frugal Girl) and I (and some of you!) did a time diary experiment to see what in the world was happening to those 24 hours each day.

My hypothesis was that I have Computer Time-Suck Syndrome.

I was right. And remember the whole thing about how I was going to do better just because I was keeping track and I knew I would be reporting it to the world? Can we forget about that part? Because…well, you’ll see.

I could tell as I was going through the week that I was losing track of time on the computer. I would go to do a quick email, blog, Facebook check-in, thinking it would be 5-10 min., and discover upon emerging that it had actually been 20 or even 60 minutes. Really? It didn’t seem like that long!

I went through the time diary to try to total my computer usage for each day. These times are approximate, because I didn’t always write down the exact time I sat down and the exact time I broke away.

Computer Time

Monday: 3 hours

Tuesday: 4 hours

Wednesday: almost 5 hours!?!

Thursday: 4 hours

Friday: 2 1/2 hours

Now, I don’t consider all of that time as wasted. Some of it was intentional and planned. Some of it was productive time. But waaayyy too much of it was me, floating around from one interesting recipe/blog post/Facebook update to another, when I really should have been doing something else.

The thing is, when I’m on the computer,  I’m often doing things that I think will ultimately be good for my family, like finding new recipes, researching activities to do with the kids, or learning about decluttering and organizing. But I need to spend time actually living my real life.

I need to spend time actually decluttering and organizing my own home, not just looking at a gazillion ideas and methods from others. Not that that’s all bad, but I need a better balance between the two.

I just want to throw in here that we did lots of good offline things this week, too! We went to the library twice, we made smoothies and banana bread, we cleaned, played, colored, and danced. Yay!

Here are some updates on a few other things I mentioned in my post when I introduced the time diary experiment:

Sleep Schedule:

I went to bed between 12 – 2 AM each night and woke up between 6:30 – 8:59 AM. (My goal is to get to bed earlier and wake up earlier.)

Average sleep time : 7 hours (I think my body would prefer 8-9)

Cleaning Schedule:

I think I did a little better than usual. And I’m really improving on getting the kids involved. No big decluttering projects, though.

Planning Ahead:

I made To Do lists for at least 3 days. I don’t follow them very well. I don’t look at them enough. I need to simplify this and force myself to have less things on the list so that I’m not too overwhelmed to look at them.

Next Steps:

Even though I’m tempted to try to fix everything at once, I think I will start by simply reducing the amount of time I spend on Facebook. I love Facebook. I love it a little too much. So I’m thinking 30 min. a day. I’ll be sure to let you know how it’s going!

Be sure to check out The Frugal Girl’s time diary update, too!

If you did a time diary, I’d love to hear about it! And if you blogged about it, feel free to put your link in the comments. 

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Filed under Priorities, Time Management

15 Responses to Time Diary Experiment: Results! Yikes!

  1. Jen S.

    Thanks for posting about your time diary. I’ve been very convicted about my time on the computer as well. Ours is in the dining room/kitchen area so it is so easy to just “check” on my email/blogs etc. I’ve started to turn off the computer and make a list when I remember something I want to check or an email I need to write. Then, when I do turn on the computer my time is a little better spent. I think I also need to make a specific time each day to spend on the computer. Not that you need another blog to look at, but the Girltalk blog has been doing a convicting/challenging series on media and how we spend our time. Blessings!

  2. Confession time…I only did a time diary for about half a day. But I did try to think about how I spend my time. Like you, the computer is my weakness.

  3. Barbara

    You are so brave to track your computer time. Like the idea of tracking my food intake, I am afraid of also seeing the results of computer time. I know that is my biggest time drain. Now that the kids are out of school for summer, I force myself to only do computer before they wake and perhaps at odd times if they are occupied with friends or outside (and while computer is turning on, I throw in a load of laundry and empty dishwasher, so I feel at least a little accomplished).

    I always found to do lists so difficult to follow and felt a sense of despair that I didn’t get to everything. Why make myself feel bad??!? So now as I drink my coffee, I take a sheet of paper and using a marker, come up with 3-5 must do items around the house-essentially what is really bugging me to pick up. It has worked so far. I see lots of blogs about list downloads and lists for this and that. It is initially appealing, but for someone like me who struggles with basic paper control, those extra papers just mean more clutter.

    Another idea comes to mind in terms of keeping ahead: race the clock. When I have something in the micro or oven, I race the timer to do a small task in that amount of time. If I am microwaving my leftovers for lunch, I have 1:30: I wipe down bathroom counters and mirror, and clean toilet. Over time, the mundane things have been taken care of and not left until they are just plain nasty. Other things I’ve done in that span: folded a load of laundry; wiped down kitchen counter; did a quick sweep of toys in kitchen and put them in kids area; decluttered my work space in kitchen.

    • Elizabeth

      Hi Barbara! I love the race the clock idea! You mean I shouldn’t just stand there and stare at my lunch while it cooks? Brilliant! I’m going to try that. There’s lots of cooking and timers going on around here every day, so we’ll see what I can do.

    • WilliamB

      I use this time to wipe a counter, put away a couple things in the kitchen or dishes, etc. Or check something online (ahem). But at least I have a buzzer telling to me to get offline.

  4. Facebook doesn’t tempt me nearly as much as blogs. Blogs are just so much fun to look at!

  5. Kimberly

    Wow! How revealing! I am also quite tempted to do the same thing, though!

  6. You did a great job! Facebook is not a problem for me, just reading other blogs. I get interested in things that are written and I love to read. My biggest problem was staying up too late.
    I blogged about it at http://www.practicingfrugal.com/2012/06/my-thoughts-on-time/

    • Elizabeth

      There are SO many great blogs out there, but we can’t read them all, right? I’m quite guilty of the staying up too late, thing too. I’m glad you participated with us!

  7. Blogs. Facebook. Pinterest.

    And reading articles to keep up with the news.

    And checking email.

    It can spiral so quickly! Sometimes when I am feeling overwhelmed by everything I want to accomplish I find myself escaping into technology even more.

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