What a journalist learned by tracking her time every day for 3 years

"On Monday, April 20, 2015, I opened a new spreadsheet on my laptop," writes Laura Vanderkam for Fast Company. I put the days of the week along the top. I put half hour blocks, from 5 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. along the left side. I began recording what I was doing on this time log: work, sleep, drive to train station, make kids breakfast."

She learned that being aware of how she was spending her time did two things: it helped her make more rewarding choices about how she spent her time, and it made her realize she has more time than she previously thought.

Broadly, though, the most important outcome from time tracking has been a sense of abundance. I have always known I have a good, full life. Now I see the evidence, hour after hour. I see stressful times, such as the week before I wrote this when I was on planes three times, with multiple delays, ending up at the wrong Hilton somewhere in Ohio. But I can see that in the same 168 hours, I took the kids to an amusement park. I saw Renoirs and Matisses at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. I ate at one of my favorite restaurants with my husband. I sat on the porch multiple nights watching the sunset.

Without the time logs, I might be tempted only to remember the flight delays. I might tell myself I was rushed and harried. But with the time logs recording those sunsets, I simply cannot claim that I have no time.

I'm glad I'm not the only one who ends up at the wrong hotel after a long day of travel.

Image: A. and I. Kruk/Shutterstock