In the previous post, we began to reflect on our personal priorities and future goals. Now it’s time to see where we actually spend our time each week. This exercise is not about changing habits, or doing anything out of the ordinary except tracking what you are doing.
Get yourself a small notepad, date planner, journal, or use some type of electronic organizer and be sure to keep it with you at all times for one week. Section it off into days, and each of the days into one or two hour blocks. Make a mental note to yourself to write down a brief description of what you have done during each of these blocks. You may also find it useful to note your level of stress or mood during each of these time periods. This can be done with a simple stress scale from 1 to 10, and using :) or :( depending on your mood, or it can be written out in more of a journal form. It’s up to you.
During the tracking week we are also going to be tracking spending. In a separate area of your notepad, create a spending list. It could be something like this:
|Date/Time||Item bought||Cost||Reason purchased||Feeling over purchase|
|Sept 10 12:20pm||Lunch||$10.25||Needed to eat||Delicious, but felt rushed. Ran from office across town to buy on 30 min lunch period. Service was slow. Had only 10 minutes to eat.|
|Sept 10 5:30pm||A book||$22.95||Latest of my favorite author just came out and I wanted to read it||Super excited to read it!|
You can simply use a :) / :( in the fifth column instead of writing out the feelings if you find it easier.
Tracking your daily habits and spending may seem difficult and tedious at first, but it is a very important exercise in beginning to simplify because it lets you really see what you are currently prioritizing in your life. This is not something you will continue after this one week period (unless of course you find it useful for yourself).
If you find you forgot to track something, just come back to it later and input the information as best as you can remember. And don’t be too hard on yourself. The tracking exercise sometimes is very emotional for people because they begin to see that they are wasting so much time and money on things they simply don’t value. Remember: We can’t change the past; we can only change how we behave in the future. So don’t dwell on it, and just think of how you can better use your time in the future.