Time Tracking vs Personal Values

An interesting post on Google+ this past week got me thinking about time blocking.  The discussion involved how to deal with discrepancies between how time is planned and how time is actually spent.

I’ve been fond of tracking pomodoros in the past during those extra long days during midterms and finals week because it’s rewarding.  Unfortunately, a big problem with this approach is the lack of any “penalty” if I get distracted and go off track.

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My biggest struggle these days is accounting for Parkinson’s law, as defined by Dictionary.com:

Parkinson’s law (noun): the statement, expressed facetiously as if a law of physics, that work expands to fill the time allotted for its completion.

Personally, I’ve found that statement consistently true, yet I still continue to work open-endedly.  Too often when I’m doing something like writing a paper, I decide I’m going to work on it until it’s done and then it takes much longer to complete than if I’d had less time (without a significant increase in quality).

On the other hand, a bulletjournalist in the same discussion wisely noted that time blocking has a tendency to stifle creative flow.

So…I abuse open-ended approaches, the pomodoro technique is insufficient, and time blocking is too restrictive.  What’s left? Monitoring.


At times when I decided track my behaviour, the result are enlightening.  Tracking my sleep has motivated me to be more diligent about getting ready for bed on time.  Keeping a food log helps me to avoid stress-eating.  I recently started keeping track of whether or not I meditate every day and I haven’t skipped since (yet).

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If you’ve read my other posts, you know I’m a big fan of Gretchen Rubin.  Her Strategy of Monitoring brilliantly articulates exactly why this habit is so effective.

I’m especially excited about this because I’m currently reading The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris based on the strategies of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.  I’ve been meeting with a group this term to go through the chapters together.   This week, we’re naming our values and examining whether or not we are living according to those values.

For example, if you believe that one of your primary values is “fitness”, is that reflected in your daily life? Maybe you claim to value “family”, but you don’t ever seem to have enough time for them.

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I think that monitoring how I spend my day might be extremely valuable in this regard.  Scription’s Chronodex was mentioned in the same Google+ post and I remembered how enamoured I was with the design when I first discovered it.  Back then, I felt overwhelmed about trying to make it work for me, but I threw my doubts to the wind today and printed out a whole sheet of them.  Whoo hoo!

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I’ll let you know how it goes.

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2 thoughts on “Time Tracking vs Personal Values

  1. I can so relate to what you said! And Parkinson’s law – isn’t that the truth!!! I am the poster child for that one.

    I haven’t heard about monitoring before. When I get a chance, I’m going to check it out and watch that video.

  2. Hi Becky!

    Great post , I have never heard about Scription Chronodex before. But did you know that there are also apps for tracking time? You can have it on your computer, mobile and tablet so I guess it’s a convenient solution. Check out for example: http://www.timecamp.com

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