Tracking Activities for Fun and Something Other than Profit

I’m trying something new this year. No, it’s not the Bacon Club Chalupa, although, that does sound pretty good. I am, in fact, loosely tracking my daily activities!

My sister got me a Rocketbook (that’s an unsponsored link, sadly) for Christmas a couple of years ago, and I’m always looking for new and interesting ways to use it. I’m also always curious about where all of my time goes in a day. Thus, the activity tracker was given life.

In years past, I would have taken on a project such as this with the sole purpose of feeling bad for not filling in every box, every day. Today, I’d like to think I’m a bit better adjusted, and hoped tracking my daily ins and outs might give me some insight on why activities do or do not happen in my day-to-day life. The format is inspired by any number of bullet journal-style mood trackers that I’ve seen online. I’ve thought about doing one of those, as well, but the prospect was too depressing. Also, I don’t think I can do one because they always look so pretty! How do you people journal like this?! I have good handwriting, and any journals I’ve ever done look like a child spilled an inkwell on the page.

Anyway, I decided to track six areas, each represented by a different color because I gotta use these colored Rocketbook markers for something:

  • Exercise
  • Drawing
  • Game Art for Staff and Shadow
  • Writing/Coding
  • Family Time
  • Video Games/Reading

Work, eating, sleeping, crisis aversion, and household chores are all a given (well, sleeping can be a challenge in this house), so I didn’t bother including those. Watching TV or movies or whatever is also not included because it’s a passive activity, and is usually done at the same time as something else. Persistent existential dread? Also a given.

No, I wanted to track the activities that are, arguably, the most important to me, but are the first ones to be shoved aside by life when it decides to get in the way. This is particularly true of the first four. Family time and video games/reading are a little more protected, but they frequently suffer, as well.

So! As you can see from the progress thus far in the photos above, I’m really knocking exercise, family time, and video games/reading out of the park, while drawing, game art, and writing/coding are receiving quite a bit less attention. I am motivated to do all of those things, but much of my free time has been spent improving and/or cleaning up our new house, and otherwise settling in. And, don’t forget, I also have a day job, a three-year-old, and a wife who might like to spend time with me, occasionally (I hope), so I’m trying to squeeze a fair amount into a given day.

In general, I’m pretty loose with the requirements of filling in a box. It kind of depends on if I feel I’ve earned it or not. For instance, I’ve sometimes filled in the video games/reading box after powering through three pages of Harry Potter while on the toilet. The one exception to this is exercise. I’m strict on that one—I have to hit my steps goal and gain ground in my current program, or the box stays empty. I’m really proud of the exercise commitment—I’m finally accepting the idea of taking care of myself being the first, best step to doing all of the other things. (Now, if only I could apply that mentality to getting enough sleep.)

Having tracked my activities for six weeks now, these are the areas in which I’ve benefited the most:

Accountability

I often get caught up in—and overwhelmed by—things like side jobs, household tasks, and perceived obligations that are not actually necessary or even asked for in our lives. When I don’t spend time doing the things I enjoy, it’s helpful to see it, to have a visual reminder of, “Hey, here are these things you like to do, but you’re not doing them.” It’s true that time is often short, but I’ve found that even on the busiest days, I can still find a little to devote to what’s important to me. Creators always say that if you really like something, you’ll make the time to do it, and I’d like to think I’m actually doing that now, even if it’s not that much.

Speaking of time….

Relieve Worry of “Not Having Enough Time”

One of my goals for this year that I listed in my previous blog was that I wanted to stop worrying about time, both in the sense of not having enough of it or spending too much of it on one thing or another. By tracking my activities, I’m able to see that I actually am making time to do the things I want to do, even when it feels like I’m not. It may not always be a lot of time, but it’s there. That’s reassuring.

Setting Realistic Expectations

Now that I have a better grasp on the amount of time I have to devote to these activities, I also know not to demand too much from myself or my time, a mistake I make frequently. For instance, with everything going on at the moment, now would not be a good time to start a novel or some other big project. I now know my limits and that I’m already spread pretty thin—adding another obligation will set me up for disappointment and give me ammunition to take shots at myself that I don’t deserve. I’ve learned the hard way, so many times, not to take on more work than I realistically have time to do.

So, there you have it! I’m curious to see where things go from here, especially as we wrap up house projects and life returns to “normal,” whatever that is. If you’re having trouble finding time to do the things you want to do, or wonder where all of your time goes, or are looking to commit to a neglected hobby, you might consider setting up tracking activities, yourself! It’s surprising to learn where your time goes. And, your tracker might look more visually pleasing than mine! Good luck, and see you next time!