by Josh Millar
It’s easy to get so caught up in the flow of things that we don’t pause to see the bigger picture. This is where tracking specific aspects of our life can be highly useful. It’s a way of being more mindful of how our daily actions connect to our larger vision. When we track things, we’re able to look at our actions from a different perspective, consider their cumulative impact, and make adjustments where needed to stay on track. While I’m not suggesting that you start rigorously tracking your every move, here are a few places it may be worth gathering some data:
Tracking your progress is an incredibly powerful tool. It’s an important way for us to evaluate the efficacy of our actions. When we see forward progress, it can serve as a great motivation for us to continue striving. When we see progress stall, it’s a sign that we may need to check in. ‘Progress’ is quite a general idea, so, of course, you’d need to customize this to your own goals. What are the things you’re striving for, especially those longer-term aspirations? Ensure that you have a system in place that allows you to measure progress and check in at regular intervals to record your current standing. Not only can this help you to stay motivated and make changes when needed, but it can also help you make important connections with other areas in your life. If you notice that progress slowed significantly in the winter months, for example, it’s worth looking into what else happened at that time. What is a lull in business that was out of your control? Were your energy levels and drive impacted by the change of season? We can learn a great deal about the way we work by tracking our progress and regularly reviewing the data.
Another great area to track is your habits. The effects of these small, repetitive actions can be significant. If we want to supercharge our success, we need to harness that power. Identify the habits in your life that are moving you closer to your goals, or define a couple of new habits you want to incorporate. Then devise a system to track these. A simple list where you can mark each day whether you did the activity or not works great. This is especially useful when trying to incorporate new habits. It forces us to bring our attention to our habits each day and ensure they’re supporting our success, not detracting from it. You might include bad habits you’re trying to break so you can see how often you still engage in them, and you can include newer habits to see how well they’re sticking.
How You Spend Your Time
Tracking your time is more of a time-bound experiment than a process I’d recommend continuing indefinitely. Mark off a couple of days or an entire week where you plan to track your every minute. It’s time intensive, but the insights you gain at the end can be powerful. Any time you pause or change activities, you note it in your log. If you spend 10-minutes talking to a coworker or two hours working on a project, it all makes the list. At the end of the tracking period, you can evaluate the way you use your time. How strong are your time-management skills? Are there certain distractions that are slowing your productivity? Are you spending your time in the areas that are most important to you? How does your work-life balance look? Getting an overview like this is so valuable. Again, this isn’t something I’d recommend as a continued habit. It’s an experiment you may do once or twice a year to check in on how you spend your time.
Knowledge is power. The more you understand about yourself and the way you work, the better you can set yourself up for success. Tracking specific areas of our lives gives us a unique opportunity to see the progression of our actions over time and to evaluate if changes need to be made. Are there other aspects of your life you think are useful to track? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.