The most effective way to track your time
The most effective way to track your time

Do you know how you spend your time?

Most people don't.

Yes, you have a calendar. But calendars are poor reflections of reality. Urgent tasks require our attention; important work may not even be on our calendars.

As the saying goes: you change what you measure. So how do we measure time?

Use the Switch Log

My technique is surprisingly simple, and super effective. I call it the Switch Log:

  1. Log when you start a task
  2. Log when you switch task
  3. Log when you take a break

Then, do whatever you want!

I really mean that. Turn up for your meetings, of course. But otherwise follow your intuition, and do what seems important.

I log my time with Slack:

I send these little messages to a channel.

You can make a private channel for tracking your time, or you can send them to another person. I send them to my wonderful EA, Kaitlan, who helps me analyze it all later.

Pro-tip: to switch channel in Slack, just hit Cmd+K 🙃

I simply write "ts" (task switch) followed by whatever I am switching to.

Sometimes, I log one task and I instead do another. That's OK: I just edit the message.

Sometimes, I forget to log a task. That's OK too: I just log it when I notice, e.g. "5:40 to now: meditation" or "last 10 mins: values".

Sometimes, I start one task, switch to another for 5 minutes, and then switch back.  That's OK also: I simply log the switches.

Whatever happens, I do not worry about updating my calendar.

Design Your Perfect Week

Once you get a week of data, analyze it! You can do this yourself, or ask a teammate to help.

First, categorize each task. My categories include product, design, recruiting, PR, management, leadership, email, and meditation.

Second, chart the time spent in each category. Here's a real week of mine from earlier this year:

Third, compare the chart to your ideal week. This is where rules of thumb are helpful.

For example, as the CEO of a series B venture-backed company, I should spend roughly 30% of my time on recruiting. However, in this week I spent only 4% of my time on recruiting, and a whopping 22% on PR. I should spend more time recruiting — and clearly hire for PR!

We immediately found an actionable insight.

Why You Should Do This

Your calendar records what you thought would happen.

Your Switch Log records what actually happened.

With the Switch Log, you can switch tasks whenever you want. You can follow your intuition and work on what seems most important. And best of all, you can design your perfect week.