Accounting for Time

You'll find a calendar on my desk at work printed in black and white on letter size paper. The corners don't lay flat and there are circles of dried tea and smudges from ink by the end of the month. One box equals one day and each of those boxes contain at least one thing. This is my accounting method; this is how I account for my time. Not money and not food, but time.

Keeping this calendar handy has helped me 'hack' my life, if you will. It's helped me pull more usable time from my days. You see, 5 minutes is not really extra time. Five minutes is just enough time to distract yourself by focusing on checking email, checking your phone or checking voicemails. Actual time is an hour. You can really sit and get something done in an hour. Something that is not just a distraction or filler.

I recently did something major in my life that resulted in a lot more time landing back in my lap. I'm going to tell you what it is and maybe you'll want to do it too.

I write down on each day simple, important things. Things like 'deliver identity,' 'cook dinner tonight,' 'finish book.' No need for lengthy details, this calendar is my life's shorthand; it helps keep me on task. On my computer and in my phone I have my to-dos listed out and that is the place for details. This calendar is just for at-a-glance purposes. I write things on it like 'clean sink' so I know the last time I cleaned the bathroom sink. I write when I sent a thank you note and to whom, so I can see that I did it and when. I plan my weeks, I plan my months this way. Simple, quick.

I found a widget that kept track of how long I was on certain websites one day. It was quickly installed and I typed in www.facebook.com just to see how much time I was on that site. Now, I have to use Facebook everyday for business reasons; I'm currently managing 30+ pages for clients. But, I am also on it myself.

Four hours, was the verdict one Tuesday. Four hours. Was I really on Facebook for four hours? Yep, I was, but in 1 minute, 3 minute, 5 minute and 7 minute spurts. Lots of little visits.

"Nope," I thought. "Not doing this."

I realized I needed to quickly end this tendency to pop into Facebook so much and I quickly discovered willpower alone wouldn't work. Peeking into Facebook had become a very strong habit.

I eventually found the solution and it did not involve deleting my Facebook account. I manually unsubscribed from every single person on my friend list. One by one by one. Now when I log in, I see this:

Empty Facebook Newsfeed

Empty Facebook Newsfeed

And it is really nice. And I freed up a bunch of time. Actual time, not five minutes, hours.

I also noticed that I was less distracted and was completing more projects on my calender. Now that it's been a little while, I am kind of in disbelief with myself that so much of my time was spent reading ridiculous, pointless stuff on Facebook. Scarier than that? Finding out that 4 hours a day is not uncommon and even on the lighter side of things. Certain groups on Facebook spend 8+ hours a day on the site.

Me? I want to spend more time seeing those monthly calendar sheets filled up with accomplishments, goals met and proof of an orderly home. And if anyone I might have unsubscribed from has amazing, wonderful, happy news to share, I'll hear about it one way or another, I'm sure.