Ben Franklin Tracking Experiment, One Year Later
Posted on September 29th, 2012
Last year I started tracking what I was doing every day. I committed to doing it for a year, and, what’s more, I actually did track my activities for a year.
It was valuable for several reasons. The first — the main — reason is for the sense of accomplishment. When I’m at home with a child, and doing the same dishes and the same laundry and cleaning the same rooms while trying to sneak a little work time in here and there — well, it’s frustrating and it’s hard to feel as if I’m making any progress.
(Even when I was practicing in a firm where we didn’t log billables, I struggled to remember all the things I did in a day, and until I started logging them, solely for my own sanity, I felt as if I hadn’t done anything.)
The second reason I found it valuable was to track trends, e.g., when I blog more, I journal less (even though the subject matter is very different). Or when my writing output is high, I don’t play the piano. Drawing was a fun diversion, but I don’t feel any compulsion to draw, the way I must write.
The third reason I found this valuable was because I tracked qualitatively, not quantitatively. A “W” for writing may mean I wrote 300 words or it may mean I wrote 3000 words. Also, other than notations for writing and editing, most of the activities I tracked are things I would cut out of a busy day, the things that keep me sane (music, reading, blogging). Having a reason to mark them down made it more likely that I would carve out the time to do them.
The only thing I’m changing this year? A bigger book. (It has two lines per day!)