Being of an analytical type, I love an excuse to track things. At the beginning of 2019 I had taken up using a bullet journal.
Like millions, I was inspired by the gorgeous bullet journals on social media (see examples here: #bulletjournal ) However, much as the inventor recommends, I prefer to use the journal as a practical tool. I spend a minimum of time each week setting up pages, perhaps 20 minutes. That’s an effective and appropriate amount of time to review and plan a week.
The secret brilliance behind writing things by hand is that you are more likely to remember, synthesize, and add efficiencies.
This strategy of time tracking was inspired by Jim Collins (Good to Great). In an interview with Tim Ferris, he describes his yearly goal of doing a thousand hours of creative work. From his experience, doing that quantity of creative work on a yearly basis will lead to finished products of value.
That sounded like a reasonable approach to me. That is only 20 hours per week of creative work. So I set about tracking.
At the beginning of each month, I set up a vertical calendar in the bullet journal that allows me to track these items on a daily basis:
- hours in studio
- a “rating” for the day – generally, an emotional rating. I used the same system as Jim Collins recommends. It’s an arbitrary scale that goes from -2 to +2, with 0 as a neutral day.
- my period. (Guys, you might track that supposed 35 day hormonal cycle. I certainly notice my husband’s moods fluctuate cyclically.)
- climbing (something that has had major influence on my mood in the past)
- notes about the day
This daily data gets collated into a yearly tracker with 52 weeks.
You can see I started tracking in March, above.
On the yearly tracker this data is shown:
- numbered week of the year
- emotional tally for the week (sum the daily “rating”- an incredible week would be a 14 using this scale, the worst week ever would be a -14)
- hours in studio
- estimated yearly total at current rate (I use an excel doc to come up with those numbers accurately.)
The purpose of time tracking is to really make clear, in a pragmatic and easily visualized way, why or why not you are creating art work. It’s simple. If there are no blocks of time filled in for a day or week, I need to restructure my time. It is no longer abstract.