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Why I track my time every single day

Yesterday, I put up an image Daniella sent me on Ben Franklin's Time Tracking.

After that, we got into a bit of a good discussion on the topic. We shared some thoughts on chaos and structure, and I wrote this -

Re: time tracking, it took me a few attempts and a few false starts before I started doing it. I've gotten a lot out of it, but I'm a big believer that your tools should serve you; you don't serve your tools. Track as much as makes sense for you so you get gains out of it. I'm naturally an unstructured person actually - I try to build structure and routine in the areas that I think it benefits, while letting creativity and chaos reign where it does well. My blog is actually more on the chaotic-just-let-it-flow side - I don't have an explicit pattern or schedule for posting. I just write something every day based on whatever I'm thinking or reading or corresponding about. I try to add more structure/order in areas where it helps a lot - even after doing it for a long time, I still forget to breathe and meditate a little at the start of my day if I don't refer to my time tracking. Likewise, tracking food and spending gives me a pretty good idea of what I'm eating and where my money is going, which adds a lot of value to my life. But again, it should serve you. Try it a little if you want to improve an area, make it work for you, make it yours. If it's not serving you at that time, discard it. I don't know if I'll track forever, but I'm still seeing big gains from it.

D writes back -

Thanks for the quick reply! Have to run to a concert now, but a question did pop into my head as I thought about the unstructured person living a semi-structured life and read your response. I guess I maybe resisted time tracking because it felt like I was self imposing structure on my daily life, which would "bind" me to it in a way. I'm the type of person that naturally resists structure but when I do have it, I do my best to succeed at it.

Literal Self Discipline

On Tynan

Two days into my trip to Tokyo, I sign on to Facebook and go to see if it's my move in Words With Friends. I like WWF because it takes up minimal time, seems to actually be good for the brain, and keeps me in touch with some friends I wouldn't otherwise regularly communicate with.

On the right, where Facebook streams the online actions of everyone I know, I see that my younger cousin has played Tetris Battle. Ooh. I like Tetris. Maybe I can play against my cousin and show him a thing or two. I click the icon, find out I can't play against him, but decide to play a round anyway.

Two days later and I'm a higher Tetris rank than anyone else on my facebook list and I actually bought five bucks worth of facebook credits so that I don't have to wait between games. Writing that now seems tantamount to admitting to shooting heroin. What's more pathetic than spending your day playing Tetris on Facebook when you have tons of work to do and are in a cool foreign country? Luckily I came to my senses pretty much immediately after depositing money. I told my friend Elliot that if I play another game, he must confiscate my computer and keep it. For good measure I  block apps.facebook.com from my computer. I'll never play again.

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