When someone takes a glimpse of my Google Calendar, especially on Fridays, they typically have a ‘Holy cow!’ response.
That’s because, when you glance at it, there’s pretty much no empty spots on any day of the week. That is not because I have back-to-back meetings everyday from 5:30am until 10:30pm. Rather, it’s because I have a habit of scheduling in my tasks, and also document how I spend my time everyday on the calendar. For instance, my plan of doing yoga for half an hour right after I wake up in the morning is an item on the calendar. This habit of mine have served me well in getting stuff done while working as a grad student. ’cause when you are not fixed to the 9-5 schedule, and can always work at home, at office, on weekends etc, then it’s so easy to let things slip and procrastinate for a long time.
Now, ever since I started the wake-up-super-early-with-wake-up-light routine about a week and a half ago, I’ve decided to take my daily logging a little bit more seriously.
Yes, yes I know. I’m a little bit of a control freak that way. But a book I recently read, and a number of other books I’ve read before, suggests to document how much time you spend on things everyday. Perhaps not to the same level of rigour as what I’m doing. But still, I think it’s a good exercise to get an idea of how healthy your lifestyle and daily schedule actually is.
Ironically, feeling super unmotivated and unproductive, I’ve decided to crunch some numbers from my past week’s worth of logging.
And the numbers are quite surprising.
While my sleeping schedule was more or less consistent throughout the week, the number of hours I spent on productive and unproductive things fluctuated quite a LOT. I mean, a lot.
I know that we all have one of those days when you just can’t get anything done. And I’ve had those days too. But to see numbers put next to it? Wow…
For example, on the most unproductive day, I spent about 14% of my awaking hours on doing something work related. This includes me doing emails and stuff. Pretty bad, don’t you think? On the same day (Thursday), I spent 29% of my time procrastinating, 11% socializing, and 18% doing chores. And I definitely did not exercise that day. I know, I know. Embarrassing. But the point is to figure out how to fix this, right? At least I know where my starting point is. 🙂
Anyways.. On the most productive day (Tuesday this week, apparently), I spent 1.5 hours doing exercises (that’s 9% of my time awake). I went to my very first Zumba class which exhausted me out for the rest of the week (super low productivity on Wednesday and Thursday). Then I spent 6% of my time socializing, 6% on hobby related stuff, 6% travelling to/from places, 18% taking shower, eating, and getting ready, and… (drum roll here) … a whooping 50% of doing work related stuff. And this is not even including the time I spent answering emails etc. I’d say that’s quite a difference from my Thursday’s productivity of 14%. Typically, this value for someone who works 9-5 would be in the 41% range if s/he sleeps 7 hour a day and take an hour lunch and is working (and not procrastinating) for the full 7 hours in the office.
So the question is, what made the difference between how I spent my Tuesday vs. Thursday? I mean, I think I really exhausted myself physically on Tuesday, and that kind of got carried over to the rest of the week (I totally didn’t exercise afterwards).
My key hypothesis is that how I spend my day is closely related to how I spend the first few minutes of my wake-up time. On the days I exercised, I didn’t roll around in bed, holding on to my tablet, reading stuff or catching up on social media. Instead, I got up right away to pull some yoga moves, and jump into the shower to start my day.
On the days I didn’t exercise, I definitely rolled around to check my email, answer it on my tablet, and read stuff online. And the rolling around definitely had something to do with me not wanting to start my day.
These are only observational notes from the limited number of samples I have, of course. But I am hoping that I can keep it up and empirically convince myself to pick up healthy habits, such as exercising for half an hour every morning.
One thing for sure is that, although it might look crazy control-freak that I schedule everything and log my daily time expenditure, setting and following a daily routine totally has its benefits. And I’m going to think about monitoring my routine as just closing the loop of my daily schedule, so that I have a practical sense of how much I can do in a day, while improving my daily productivity.
For now, I’m going to stop the planning/monitoring process and make myself an awesome dinner in preparation for another epic week.
I can’t believe you tabulate all your daily activities into percentages of the time not sleeping. Your blog article reminds me of our 3rd year OS project, where the scheduler process analyzes priority and run time of each process task for completion and manage them based on an optimized switching algorithm. Just because you research robots, doesn’t been you have to become one.
Hahaha you’re too funny Sui. Yes I remember our 3rd year OS project. That was an epic experience for sure. And no, I’m not trying to become one. Just trying to be a better, productive, and healthy person. I mean, you should really be proud of me that I’m really putting exercise to the front burner here. 😀
Anywho, I hope you’re doing good! What are you up to now? Keep me posted! 😀
It’s good to hear that you’re taking good care of yourself. I was a bit worried when I read your earlier blog that you wake up super early and sleep very little in order to maximize your work output.
Are you flying back to Ontario this Chrismas?
Haha.. I might not go back this year because of quals. But we’ll see. 🙂 I’ll let you know if/when I am in town. 😀
Qual… Oh my. I hope you don’t stress yourself out for that. Yeah, give me a shout if you’re in town and best wishes on your studying.