Where You Spend Your Time Reveals The Truth

Do you really know where your time goes? Have you ever stopped to actually track it?

It’s been said you can see the true nature of your heart by looking at where your money goes (which I think is true). I also think you gain insight by looking at where you choose to invest your time (a form of currency).

A little ways back, I tracked my time spent at work, measuring everything I did on a minute-by-minute basis. My goal was to compare where I really put my time versus where I felt it was going. I learned some very interesting things (like: reading and responding to email sucks up a lot of time — a lot more than I thought).

Since I’ve been off work the past week and working with my wife on closing 2012 and entering 2013, we’ve been intentionally discussing what’s important to us (our values).

I decided to create a spreadsheet (yes I love spreadsheets!) to measure where the major chunks of my time go in a typical week. I’ve created six major activities, and allocated the amount of time spent in each daily. You’ll notice there are day-to-day variations in certain areas, like on Wednesday (date night with my wife).

Here’s the spreadsheet:

Where I really spend my time

Where I really spend my time.

In reality, my six major activities in rank order are as follows:

#1: Sleep 33.63%
#2: Work 32.74%
#3: Family 25.60%
#4: Spiritual 3.87%
#5: Blog 2.08%
#6: Work-out 1.79%

The Truth

So, while I say that my faith is important to me, in reality it is 4th on the list. While I say that my wife, daughter, and family is important to me, in reality it is 3rd on the list. Outside of sleep, work dominates where I choose to invest my time.

Without passing judgment on myself, I’m going to let the analysis sink in, and think about what should change (if anything).

What about you? Have you done an audit of your time, relative to where you want to spend it? If not, what do you think you’d find?

 

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About David Rosendahl
Husband, father, co-founder of MindFireInc, two-time Inc500 software company. I love building things.

15 Responses to Where You Spend Your Time Reveals The Truth

  1. David Gurrola says:

    There was an interesting comment that I saw on a Facebook post today that went something like “the faster I go [in life] the further I get behind” or at least that was the summary of it. I have found that it is true in many aspects of our life! Both in our “quality of living” but also in our spiritual and family lives. Our society has drawn us into needing our own houses, 2.5 cars πŸ™‚ at least I think that is the statistic, etc etc. that we have to keep moving faster and faster and forget/get further behind on the things that really matter. I have not done this lately, but I know it would be way backwards to what I really want.

    Thanks!

    David

    • Hey David, I hear you. I know that we seek after similar things in our families, work, etc. I’m not sure what to do with the results of the analysis, but for me, most often I find that I can take next steps once I have some sense of what the facts/data are.

      In other words, now that I can see reality a bit more clearly, I can start to figure out what it means, and what to do next. I’m sure Sarah will have some feedback and we’ll work towards what we want it to look like for our family.

      We also started drafting a values & mission statement of sorts for us in 2013. Once we get it in a presentable form, we’ll share with you and see what you think!

      Thanks for the comment,
      -dr-

  2. dcnpatience says:

    Thanks for this gentle reminder to “follow the evidence” in order to understand where one’s priorities may be poorly aligned.

    Regarding your worry that spiritual activities are not higher on the list, it seems to me that you’ve got a solid tithe represented in comparison to work activities. If those spiritual activities are “first fruits” — such as deliberate times for prayer — rather than afterthoughts, you may be all right.

    Even monastics, whose primary work *is* prayer, only spend 15-20 minutes at a time in church at the appointed times during the day.

    But again, thanks for the thought-provoking article!

    • Hi Rodger, thanks for the comment, and for the reminder about monks. You also make an interesting point about the spiritual time being a tithe as compared to the work activities. I hadn’t thought of it this way!

      Have you done an analysis of where your time goes? I’m curious to know the results if you feel like sharing.

      Take care,

      -dr-

      • David:

        For the last several years, I have traveled on business selling software to hospitals, so most weekdays are devoted pretty fully to either travel or meetings. When I work from home, it’s pretty common that I spend a full day doing web demos. Exercise is the missing time slot during the week, as it’s the habit I have the hardest time sticking to.

        I am also an Episcopal deacon. For 30-45 minutes each morning, I say Morning Prayer and write a brief reflection on the day’s readings for my blog at dailyofficeanchorsociety.com.

        I spend nearly the entire day every Sunday at church (7 am to noon) and teaching a class (12:30 to 2:30 pm). Though it might count as “spiritual” time, Sunday is pretty much a work day for me, at least for the nine-month academic year (no afternoon class in the summer).

        Saturdays, and whatever evenings I am home, are “family and friends time.” My wife and I do not have children, so we enjoy the chance to spend time together or having friends over for dinner parties.

        The pattern doesn’t change much, so even though I don’t have a spreadsheet I can feel that things are fairly well balanced at the moment.

        Rodger

        • Hi Rodger:

          Sounds like a balanced schedule; thank you for sharing.

          Exercise has also become harder for me — coinciding with the birth of our daughter. I find myself preferring to spend time with her and my wife, rather than going out for a run or working out. However, I know that the benefits are numerous and that it is good to keep up the practice.

          I visited your blog; some great reflections there. Do you mind if I link to some of your reflections from time-to-time?

          Take care,

          -dr-

          • Anonymous says:

            David:

            I’d be glad for you to link — I appreciate the kind words.

            Happy New Year!

            Rodger

            • dcnpatience says:

              As it happens, our conversation was very timely, as the Old Testament lesson appointed for Morning Prayer today suggests the notion of a tithe as we were discussing. See my reflection (including a link back to your blog post) at http://dailyofficeanchorsociety.com/2013/01/03/a-tithe-of-your-time/

              • Hey there, thank you for the link. I read the post and will leave some thoughts there in a moment. Talk soon!

  3. Kevin says:

    Btw, check out the iPhone app Chronos (it helps you track how you spend your time), you can set goals, and compete with friends (found it after your post today).

    • Thanks Kevin, I’ll check it out! I’ve heard of similar things–I think they’re sometimes called personal analytics? Interesting to think of yourself as having all this data ready for mining πŸ™‚

  4. Pingback: A tithe of your time | Daily Office Anchor Society

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  6. Mikkele says:

    I think this is a really good analysis to do. I remember you keeping logs of what you did during your work day, and it being really telling of how much time you’re actually spending on things. That being said, I don’t think these categories are always so rigid– there is definitely something to be said for sitting down and intentionally having “spiritual time,” but you are worshiping all day with your being– through your interactions with others, the choices you make, etc. Or exercising– you may go on a walk or a bike ride with your family, which is both exercise and family time. Again, I think there is definitely an aspect of these things that should be intentional and set apart, but I think it’s not always as clear cut as that. TJ and I don’t have a ton of time in our lives with our commuting/work schedules to exercise AND spend quality time together, so we try to combine those things by going on bike rides and walks.

    Also, I realize you may have already factored this in, because I have no idea what you were doing when you were spending time with you family or whatever, just more making an observation.

    • Hey Mikkele, thanks for stopping by! I agree with you, many times there are ways to meet multiple objectives. The only thing I worry about is being physically present with my family, but mentally somewhere else. That kills me!

      So you actually remember me writing down all my time during the day? πŸ™‚

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