Tracking my day vs. scheduling my day


It appears I’m not yet ready to start scheduling my day, the way I had planned when I initially downloaded the Passion Planner pages.

I captured my first try at scheduling my day in my “A Day in the Life” post last week—a big fail on the one hand, because I was totally off my planned schedule, but on the other hand, a win in that I stayed aware of my time the entire day.

Staying aware of my time is something that tends to get away from me, especially now when I’m not plunged into back-to-back deadlines (well, this week I am, but not week by week by week like I am during my busy period).

Since that day, I’ve been religiously scheduling the following day—every night before I go to bed, I sit at my desk, armed with my highlighters and carefully charting out the next day in my planner. And every day, I fail to follow my careful schedule. Sigh.

I don’t think I’m planner-challenged (at least, the evidence isn’t all in yet!). But I do think I don’t know how long it takes me to do things, and that, perhaps, is a skill I should acquire. And once I’ve acquired that skill, I can maybe tackle the whole scheduling my day thing again and see how it goes.

I’d actually been planning to try a week of tracking my time after I read Laura Vanderkam’s 168 Hours earlier this year. And then I never got around to it because January and part of February were so deadline-driven, my weekly schedule looked like this: WAKE UP. WORK. SLEEP. REPEAT. Nothing much to track, really.

So I’m going to spend this week tracking my time in my Passion Planner—so it will be a little like a diary of sorts. I have three more deadlines (one tomorrow, one on Thursday that looks like it might shift and one on Friday) so it’s not a normal non-busy week for me, but still, I’d like to see where I’m putting my time!

Have you ever tracked your time during your day? Any surprises? And are you a whiz at scheduling your days? Any tips would be appreciated!

Photo credit.

17 thoughts on “Tracking my day vs. scheduling my day

  1. Ti

    I only schedule appointments. The rest is a large to-do list which is not scheduling at all but gives me an idea of what needs to be done. I also have a running ” to buy” list which I keep separate from my to-do’s.

    I have so little free time during the day, as evidenced by my day in the life post, that to add more work in the form of scheduling is just not in the cards right now. I have too many last minute items that come up like this week’s open house which was rescheduled and now forced me to miss book club.

    1. Belle Wong Post author

      I’ve always been fascinated by to-do lists, but never seem to be able to consistently use them. The only time I was quasi successful was late last year, when I sat down and did a “braindump” to-do list where I just put down every single thing in my head. What a relief that was! And I actually managed to get a few things done off that list, too. But I haven’t done another one since. I should give it another try.

      And oh, I really really find last minute things really mess things up. Sad that you have to miss your book club :(

  2. Care

    My dear DEAR friend, forgive me for not reading through this post as carefully as I probably should have but I must admonish you gently to consider that the plan IS good. PLANNING is terrific! following the plan isn’t really as important, trust me – as long as you mostly get the BIG things done. The carefully follow thing?! pshaw. A wise man (I’ll tell you if you really need to know) once said, “Plans are nothing; planning is everything.” or something like that. Your creative juices are flowing in the planning stages and that is highly important.

    Also, to totally change the subject… Let’s plan a post to list off all the ebooks in our ereaders so that we can be publicly be exposed so that we can help these poor books jump up and down and scream. ?? (just thinking you might want a relatively short quick easy post idea….)

    1. Belle Wong Post author

      Such good advice, Care (both yours and that wise man’s). And you’re right, I love the planning part -I get to sit and jot down ideas and it’s FUN! Right now I spend too much time frittering away my time. I’m kind of excited because I’m hoping I’ll get to see exactly where my time goes! (I’m sure it hides out in a cave somewhere, with full Internet access, a fridge and pantry full of snacks and lots of wine.)

      The ebooks TBR post idea – brilliant! Except I’m not sure how quick such a post would be. There are a lot of ebooks hiding out in my ereader …

      1. Care

        Interesting – scheduling vs to-do listing? I am a to-do-lister.

        So, is this an idea we can shoot for at a later date? I just thing it would be fun to do one in tandom. Marinate the idea and let me know. No hurries…

        I just bought another eBook today. Sigh

        1. Belle Wong Post author

          Yes, let’s shoot for this at a later date. Only … ALL the ebooks we have tucked away? Can we be a little selective about what we list? I went through a phase where I kind of indulged in anything free that sounded halfway decent …

  3. Word Lily

    I think it’s a good thing to spend a week or so tracking how you spend your time before trying to schedule that carefully. It’s kind of like how, when you’re first starting a budget, the first step is to TRACK your spending for a month or a couple. To see where you are.

    I love what Care said.

  4. Jemi Fraser

    I’m so impressed with your scheduling and planning! I wish i were that linear of a thinker, but alas, I’m not. Probably why I’m a panster with my writing too :) Good luck with your tracking!

  5. Heidenkind

    I know exactly how you feel. Theoretically I know it should take me one hour to write 1000 words, because I’ve done it, but that all depends on different factors like how much I know about the topic, or what I want to say, etc. I hate it when what seems like a quick project takes takes F O R E V E R.

  6. Kay

    I think your idea to track your days for a week is very good. You know, when you start something new, like a budget (as WordLily suggests), it’s helpful to keep a list for a while of what you spend. When you start a new eating program, it’s suggested that you keep a log of what you eat for a week. Life is busy and we’re unaware a lot of the time of the tiny details. Keep your log and don’t critique it as you are doing it – then you can go back see where your time is spent. That being said, I agree with Care in that the planning is the point. Whether you do everything exactly like you plan – well, who does that? Life happens. Take care and remember that this is to make you more aware – not to create a rigid “must or life will end” thing. :-)

  7. Joy Weese Moll (@joyweesemoll)

    I did the tracking thing after reading 168 Hours, too. Eye-opening. For me the biggest shock was how much time I spend on my healthy lifestyle — shopping, cooking, eating (a salad takes longer to eat than a burger — who knew?), cleaning the kitchen, exercising. Six hours a day happens and the average is near to five hours a day. I haven’t done much to fix that because it’s kind of a bedrock thing for me. If that aspect of my life fails, my addictive behaviors resurface and everything else fails pretty dramatically right along with it.

  8. Vasilly

    I schedule appointments and the kids’ classes in, but I spend most of my time making a to-do list. I don’t always get everything done, but it helps.

  9. jenn aka the picky girl

    Like they’ve said above, I schedule appointments. Then aside from appointments, I have a daily to-do list. It isn’t feasible for me to block off time because of my job, so I just take it one task at a time. It’s SO helpful. Plus, I keep a week-long to-do list that keeps me oriented to bigger goals. It has worked so well for me to be able to mark things off during the day. Don’t despair!

    I also only really sit down and plan on Sunday evenings. It helps me dread the evening less and doesn’t get me bogged down in details like it might if I tried to do it every day. Then, each night I take a look at it to see if I have appointments or should dress more professionally. It has helped me so much!

  10. Leah @ Books Speak Volumes

    I love my bullet journal for managing my daily to-do list, but it is NOT very good for scheduling things. And now my organizational nerd is dying to try this Passion Planner! I like your idea of using it to track your time for a week before trying to schedule your time. Learning how long things take you and how you’re currently spending your time should help you figure out how to make a better schedule. (I do the same thing: I sometimes make a nice, detailed schedule the night before, and then I completely disregard it.)

  11. Melissa

    I’m always disappointed in myself if I don’t hit my work goals each day. I make my own goals, so it’s all internal, but I wonder how tracking all my time would go. I’d probably realize exactly where I was wasting time each day!


Leave a Reply to Joy Weese Moll (@joyweesemoll) Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>