Welcome back to my series on exploring creating an intentional career. In my first post, I explained and defined what an intentional career is. In my second post, we discussed digging down to discover the core feeling you desire that can motivate your intentional career. And today, we’ll get into something just a little bit less, let’s say, sexy: tracking your time.
This week, I’m going to ask you to track your time during your job, for five days in a row.
Well, you’re here to learn how to create a more intentional career. But the fact is, you’re already in a job or career that is operating out of some sort of intention. It simply may well just be a passive or unconscious one.
By tracking the way you spend your time this week, you’ll get a fascinating view into how you are currently showing up in your career and job, and where your energy — AKA the things you spend time doing — currently lies.
When we have this baseline of how you are currently already spending your hours at your job, we can then best understand where we need to cut; where we need to increase; what habits we need to switch up; and how to better live our true core values (which we’ll tackle in a future post).
Let me give you one example from a previous coaching client of how this could work for you. She was frustrated at her work, which she generally enjoyed. But in the past year, it’d seemed she couldn’t say where her day went. What she did. What impact she was having.
When I had her track her time in 15-minute increments at her job, she found out the most incredible thing — she was spending hours a day emailing or otherwise communicating with one specific employee. She immediately instituted a boundary in that relationship and got back to the tasks which were impactful and enjoyable for her.
So how do you track your time at work? I’m going to offer you a few ways.
#1: Go analog. Use a notebook to record, in 15 or 30-minute increments, exactly what you do each day for five days in a row. Specific is better — you could write “meeting,” but you’re going to get more out of it if you also record who the meeting was with and what it was about. You could write “emails,” but again, you’ll get more out of it if you record who you were emailing and what about.
#3: DIY it. You can create your own Excel or Google spreadsheet to track your stuff. Just don’t get too fancy — simpler is better in this case.
If you need more convincing on the habit of time tracking in order to live your life more intentionally, check out this podcast with productivity expert Laura Vanderkam here.
So that’s the main assignment for this week… and journaling. It’s time to dig deep into your relationship to time.
After tracking for five days, answer the following questions in a journal. Handwrite these — some powerful observations that may surprise you will come through!
- Where did you spend the most time?
- Is this time spent a true reflection of your desires for your life?
- What surprised you from the time tracking?
- What are three things you learned about yourself from the tracking?
- What would somebody who reviewed your time tracking say about you?
- What is your current relationship with time?
- What would an authentic relationship with time look like for you?
- What’s one idea to organize/reorganize your time to honor your wishes?
Next week, we’ll tackle an underrated part of creating an intentional career: the physical and digital spaces in which you conduct your job, and how we can clear them. But for now, enjoy the time tracking. I’d love to hear what shows up for you!
Catherine Andrews is an author, teacher, coach, and expert in intentional living who works with clients to mindfully and authentically design a life that reflects all of their potential, dreams, desires, and capabilities. She is the author and host of The Sunday Soother, a newsletter, podcast and community dedicated to authentic living and compassionate personal growth. She lives in Washington, D.C., and holds a bachelor’s in English Literature from the University of Virginia and a Masters in Journalism from Northwestern University. Before becoming a teacher and coach she spent nearly 20 years in communications and journalism, and she still believes the stories we tell about ourselves and others are our greatest assets. You can find her on Instagram here.