I tracked every minute of my day for 3 years

Goal: See how I spend my time, so I can adjust to how I would ideally use my time.
What I’ve done: I’ve tracked my time in different categories of life for 3 years with different color-coded Google Calendars with a precision of 15 minutes.

Here is an example week (currently I’m applying for jobs):

  • The calendars I use are checked on the left
  • Personal information is removed with black squares (image)

Description of categories:

  • Career / Money: Activities related to my career (university studying not included)

  • Self-improvement: Learning & routines (meditation, gratitude,

  • Other work: Work that is not related to career or self-
    improvementdaily/weekly/monthly/quarterly/yearly routines & reflections)

  • Music / Guitar: Playing/learning guitar or singing.

  • Exercise: Walking, running, or bodybuilding

  • Eat: Time spend eating

  • Transport: Car, train, bus, flight

  • Social: Time with other people (Doesn’t include working or eating with others)

  • Free time: I can do whatever I want.

  • Sleep: Time I spend in bed, whether sleeping or not.

  • Other: Usually just shower (I don’t know which other category to fit this in)

How I would like to spend my time while traveling

  • Career: 2.5 hours
  • Self-improvement: 1.5 hours
  • Other work: 30 minutes
  • Music/Guitar: 30 minutes
  • Exercise: 30 minutes
  • Eat: 1.5-3 hours (I don’t want to be in a rush)
  • Transport: The less time the better
  • Social: 4 hours
  • Free time: 2 hours
  • Sleep: 8-9 hours
  • Other: 30 minutes

How I actually spend my time on my 9-month South America travel


  • I spend 1.89 hours each day on transport!
  • I only worked 0.33 hours per day on my career… (Initially, my plan was to try living like a Digital Nomad… but I ended up just traveling…)

How I would like to use my time when not traveling

  • Career: 4.5 hours
  • Self-improvement: 2.5 hours
  • Other work: 30 minutes
  • Music/Guitar: 30 minutes
  • Exercise: 30-60 minutes
  • Eat: 1.5-3 hours (I don’t want to be in a rush)
  • Transport: The less time the better
  • Social: 2 hours
  • Free time: 2 hours
  • Sleep: 8-9 hours
  • Other: 30 minutes

How I’ve actually spend my time when not traveling

November 2022:

January 2023:


  • I spend 2.91-3.64 hours on career daily which is fine, but maybe I should increase it a bit.
  • I only spend 0.76 hours on social activities in January 2023… I should hang out more with my friends… (maybe decrease the free time where I’m alone). November 2022 I spend about 2 hours each day, which is fine.

Problems with my tracking categories

  • Career: I’m not sure about whether to only track the activities that are making me money directly or ALL things I do to with the intention of making more money at some point
  • Self improvement and other work: It’s hard to make the distinction between these 2 categories.
  • I’m considering making meditation a separate category, instead of categorizing it as self improvement.
  • Eat and social: I’m often social & eating at the same time, so I’m not sure about whether to track that as social or eating or both.
  • Free time: I’m often using my free time on “self improvement” (learning through YouTube videos), so I’m not sure about whether to count it as free time or self improvement.
  • Other: This category is only used for showers. I’m not sure about whether to keep it or categorize showers as “free time” or “other work”…

Changes I’m considering making to my life

  • Spending more time on my career (both when traveling & not traveling…)
  • Maybe spending a bit less time on self improvement and other work, so I can focus more on career…
  • Spending more time social with friends in some months…
  • Spending less time on transport when traveling, by traveling more slowly and staying longer in each place.

Questions to you guys

  • Which categories are you using for time tracking your life?
  • How can I make my categories more black & white? Sometimes I don’t know whether to consider an activity for “career”, “self improvement” or my “other work” category… Or whether to consider eating as eating or social if I’m also social…
  • What does your ideal day look like? How many hours for each category of your life?
  • How could I make this analysis better, to get more insights?
  • Which insights have you gained from time tracking?

I don’t know if it’s practical for you, but applying multiple tags to each block of time could be quite useful, e.g. eat + social or eat + work or exercise + social etc.

I have considered it, but the only way to do it with my current setup is to make multiple blocks at the same time, like I do here with lunch…


This is pretty amazing, but I imagine it was pretty painful to track the time using Google Calendar.

I’ve been using Simple Time Tracker for almost a year. The ergonomics are pretty top notch - you track time as you go, with a tap on the respective task in the app.

Option 1: Simple Time Tracker lets you tag an activity with more than one tag.
Option 2: Since you need to eat anyway and there’s not much room to optimize that, I would tag eating with friends as “social”, eating with business partners as “business”. The idea is to track the more important activity, or the one that you hope to optimize. I don’t recommend eating fast, but what you can vastly optimize is cooking, by going easy-prep.

Key question: did you track your time as it happened, or did you set blocks of time for the day, then forced yourself to go through them?

Simple Time Tracker lets you categorize multiple things under one “activity”. I call my “Self improvement” Edu (so it’s easy to see and tap in the app), and it has various tags: book, AI, CS, health etc. These are activity-specific tags. You can also have general tags that you can apply to any tracked activity, such as your level of focus on the activity (focus25, focus50, focus75, focus99), or the tag toolong for when you know you’ve dilly-dallied.

I think the moral of the story is to use the right tool for the job, and to not expect too much from the tracking process. What I’ve learned after a year of tracking wasn’t that surprising. The most actionable insight is well-known: attack the most important task as soon as practical after waking up (when your willpower, energy and focus are at their max), ruthlessly cut out interruptions, and keep at it until you can’t (typically 4 hours max). You can be more efficient with your time by tracking it and trying to “trim the fat” here and there, or you can be more effective by doing what you know you should do.

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This conclusion is made by many.

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Ah, you’re assuming that willpower, energy and focus are at their max in the morning. You are fortunate that yours are. My power hours are from 5 PM to 9 PM, long after I wake up at 8 AM. I’ve learned to use those hours for my most intensive work. It also reduces distractions in the offce.


I do a mix.

The first part of my day is scheduled to always be the same like this:

But actually at the moment I’m job searching, so I’m just letting myself sleep until I wake up and then I do the sequence.

When planning the day in the morning I schedule these things: Training, music practice and sometimes I schedule my work also.
However, if I feel like practicing music or training at another time of the day, then I do that instead. (the important thing is just that I get it done).
Usually with my work I have a todo list for the day and I just track as I go, because I don’t know how long each thing will take. However, sometimes I set a deadline by scheduling specific hours in the calendar and not letting myself use more time than that.
But overall the ability to timeblock my time is essential.