a detailed summary of how I spent my time in 2019

A detailed summary of how I spent my time in 2019 [PMP #158]

One of the reasons I love to track my time is because of the power you get from having an awareness of where your time goes. As 2019 comes to a close, I wanted to know how I’ve spent my time this year so I can make better choices going into 2020.

And I thought it would be fun to share some of the insights with you. Enjoy this detailed summary of how I spent my time in 2019.

NOTE: This analysis covers the period from January 1st to December 9th. So although the year isn’t over, it gives me a pretty good idea of how I’ve spent my time this year.

Don't want to read this post, listen to the podcast instead:

 

How I track my time

Before I get into the analysis, I’d like to explain the methods I use to track my time.

As you may know, I’m a big proponent of time blocking. By planning out when I’m going to work on specific tasks, this creates a nice time log and at the end of the week, I can go back and look at all the blocks on my calendar to see how I spent my time.

Time blocking is great but I want to get a big-picture overview as well as a detailed breakdown of where my time is going. So for that, I’m going to use Timing (affiliate link). Timing is a time tracking tool I’ve been using for the last few years to track my time. It watches the apps, websites and files you use while you do your work and categorises them into projects.

This is what I’ve used to produce the analysis below.

Summary of my year

Observations:

  • Productivity score – The productivity score is calculated based on how “productive” different types of work are. For example, in Timing, I’ve set “Client work” to be very productive. Whereas watching Netflix or playing games is very unproductive. My overall score of 84% is good to see, although it really doesn’t tell me much so I don't pay a lot of attention to this.
  • Most active weekdays – Monday’s and Friday’s tend to be shorter days for me. This doesn't surprise me. When I plan my time, I don't usually have much client work on Monday’s as it’s still a Sunday in the US where most of my clients are. I also plan to finish earlier on Friday’s, hence the shorter days.
  • Most productive weekdays – It’s good to see that my productivity is very consistent throughout the week at around 80-85% rather than dropping off.
  • Most active time of day – It’s interesting to see that I am more active in the morning. This makes sense due to when most of my client calls take place. Often the afternoons are spent on less productive work and admin. When planning my time, I like to work on high-energy tasks in the morning when I find I am more focussed and alert.

NOTE: If you’re wondering why I seem to be working in the middle of the night, I believe this is because I’ve travelled this year and so when I was in the US, it looks like I’m working in the middle of the night New Zealand time.

Hours worked per month

Here’s a breakdown of how many hours I worked each month this year:

You’ll see my hours were lower in April and May when we were travelling the US and Canada and working less. Likewise in September when I had two weeks off.

Overall, I worked an average of 153 hours per month which is about 35.7 hours per week. This is great to see as I made a goal at the start of the year to get my working hours down to 35 hours per week.

Work-life balance is something a lot of people strive to achieve. And I know a lot of people reading have full-time jobs don’t have as much control over their hours. But you always have options. Whether that’s going part-time or starting a side-business. You CAN have more balance if you choose to make it a priority.

A perfect example is Angelo, one of the members in my Slack community. This year he’s reduced his hours after taking his work remote and travelling the US with his family from their RV.

I made a goal at the start of the year to lower my hours (which I’ve done). This might mean I have to sacrifice growth (sales actually still grew this year despite the reduced hours). But I’m happy to do this if it means I have balance in all aspects of my life. It means I can end my day at 3 or 4 pm and go to CrossFit or spend time with my family.

 

Projects I worked on

Here are the top “Projects” I worked on. These are basically the categories of my work:

Top 5 projects:

  1. Client Work (495 hours, 28%) – Client work took up most of my time this year. What’s interesting is that consulting and client work actually makes up around 58% of my income. You might look at this and think I should spend more time on client work so I can increase my income. What people often don't realise is all the support and marketing work that goes into creating this income (which is the next few items on this list).
  2. Sales (256 hours, 14%) – I spent 14% of my time on sales e.g. on introductory calls, following up with people and writing proposals. This is about half the time I spent on actual client work but is necessary to create my overall consulting income.
  3. Content (149 hours, 8%) – I spent 8% of my time creating content. For example, this post you're reading now. This also includes all the videos I make for YouTube that help me to get clients and sell products.
  4. Planning (148 hours, 8%) – I spent just under 10% of my time planning. I’d say this is more than most people. As a productivity geek, I’m constantly jumping into Asana and my calendar to plan my time and work out next steps on a project. It was Abraham Lincoln that once said: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
  5. Email (123 hours, 7%) – I’m happy to report that overall time spent managing email is quite low. However, I should point out that a lot of time I am responding to an email, say from a client, this may get categorised as “Client work” not “Email”. So while I am technically responding to an email, really the thing I’m doing is helping a client so that’s how it gets categorised.

Most used apps

Here are the apps I’ve used the most this year:

Some observations:

  • Safari (923 hours, 56%) – This isn’t a surprise as most of the actual apps or services I use are web-based e.g. Asana and Pipedrive.
  • Zoom (185 hours, 11%) – Zoom is the web conference tool I use to communicate with clients. So far this year, I’ve spent $165 on my Zoom subscription, which is about $0.90 every hour ($0.015 per minute). That’s not bad.
  • Most of the time spent on other apps like Mail, Ulysses, Calendar, Pages, Slack, Excel etc. has been around 15-38 hours.

Most used websites

Finally, here are the websites I’ve visited most often:

Observations:

  • Asana (209 hours), Pipedrive (149 hours) and Zapier (25 hours) – I should start by pointing out that the Asana, Pipedrive and Zapier numbers are misleading. While a lot of the time spent using these tools is my own use of Asana or Pipedrive, because I consult with clients on these tools as well, this means a lot of the time is classified as “Client Work” and not my own use of the tool.
  • paulminors.com (110 hours) – This is the time I spent working on my website e.g. updated sales pages, content and blog posts.
  • ConvertKit (27 hours) – I’ve only been using ConvertKit for the last 4-5 months but it’s already become one of the tool websites I visit. I use ConvertKit every day to work on email sequences, newsletters and to troubleshoot subscriber issues.

Closing thoughts

  • After going through this exercise, I’m pretty happy with the results. Because I’ve been tracking my time and have a good awareness of how my time is spent, nothing here has really surprised me.
  • This exercise has highlighted to me the value of time tracking. At the end of each day, I check my Timing summary and will fix up some of the categorisation (which takes about 1 minute). I thought about stopping this but having the option to go back and get this kind of detail is very powerful. So I’ll be continuing this habit for the foreseeable future.
  • As for changes I’d like to make in 2020, I’d like to maintain my 35 hours per week routine (or lower this even more if I can). I’m pretty happy with how my time is split between client work and other projects. Next year I’d like to grow product revenue some more, so this might mean taking some time away from client work to make time for other projects.

As the year comes to an end, I’d highly encourage you to look back at how you’ve spent your own time this year. If you haven’t actively tracked your time, even just journalling about what you’ve spent time on is a useful way to reflect before you set your goals and start the new year. Good luck!