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Blog // Productivity // Technology
1 month ago

Time-Tracking With Timeular

Timeular is a smart time-tracking device popular in productivity circles. In February, I tested Timeular out and the results were interesting.

February was a rare perfect month: four weeks, with every week starting on a Monday. Apparently, this happens only once every 200 years.

So, in addition to tracking master habits, I decided to try another experiment: time tracking. I’ve done this before. With a paper and pen. But habits are best tracked automatically. So I bought a Timeular time-tracking device and used it to track my working day for five days a week, across the four weeks of February.

Using Timeular

Timeular is an eight-sided device that looks like a giant gaming cube. It’s as big as an orange. Timeular connects to your iPhone, iPad or computer via Bluetooth. You can programme it so that whatever side faces up sets a timer to track your activity. It’s pretty easy to do. As you go through the day, turning the Timeular from one side to another stops and starts the timers. Then you can open up the app and look at your day, with a breakdown of each activity and where your time went.

When the tracker changes to a new activity, Timeular notifications appear on your iPhone or Apple Watch. Opening the app lets you see the current timer and how long it’s been running. You can even add a tag or mention to the timer to identify the activity further.

Timeular works well with very few glitches. When changing activities, it’s best to pick up the device and place it down rather than trying to roll it from one side to another. One time I left the timer running all night; then, when I opened the app and tried to delete the last entry (no, I hadn’t spent 16 hours writing in an all-night marathon), I lost three days’ worth of data. Apart from those glitches, it has worked flawlessly.

Choosing Your Activities

The purpose of time-tracking is to see how you spend your time. You might need to bill clients accurately, for example. For me, the exercise was about understanding where my time went. And why I felt like I was wasting some of my days.

I was curious how much of my day really went into activities like cooking and getting stuff delivered to home. These were the big changes as a result of the pandemic and working from home.

I was also interested in unscheduled time, the black hole of doing non-work stuff during the day, like doom-scrolling social media or daydreaming with guitar catalogues.

The first category I chose was unintentional. I’d suggest you start with that too. Wasted time – it’s the thing most of us want to control.

The other seven will depend on how you spend your days. For me, they were writing, coffee breaks and eating, cooking and household chores, digital communication (email and posting to the blog), mail (including ordering groceries, receiving deliveries, breaking down boxes for recycling), exercise and walking, and other creative work (like music, calligraphy, etc).

Analysing The Data

Timeular gives you two main ways to look at your data. Calendar opens a day to a screen view of all the blocks of time throughout your day. Insights lets you choose a selection of days and then see totals for each activity, along with trends like number of time entries and how they break down by length.

What I noticed was I was certainly spending a lot less time in the mornings writing than I wanted to. Most days didn’t look like the blocks I had planned. And I was writing in the late afternoon to make up for that, which explains why I often felt tired and rushed as the day ended.

Surprisingly, I wasn’t spending anywhere near as much time on deliveries each day as I thought. This just proves that perception isn’t always reality. The resentment I had towards Covidtime delivery routines was out of proportion to the inconvenience they caused to my schedule!

Timeular And Time Intentionality

Being more intentional about my mornings, together with being kinder to myself about the doorbell ringing with another delivery, made a big difference to my state of mind.

These kinds of marginal improvements can be powerful over time. Timeular is like having a time-tracking coach working with you, clipboard and stopwatch in hand, observing and making you aware of areas where you can improve.

The critical thing is to feed Timeular honest data. As with anything, don’t lie. If you’re trying to write but really sitting on the sofa sipping coffee, then turn Timeular over to the coffee break activity. If you’re scrolling through Instagram, then admit that you’re in unintentional territory.

Using Timeular In the Future

Timeular feels easy to use right now because I’m not travelling. I haven’t even been to a cafe in nearly a year. If you work at the same desk, or at a limited number of locations in the same building, then Timeular is relatively convenient to use.

I’m just not sure how well it would work in regular time if Timeular became another somewhat bulky thing I had to carry with me.

Potential inconvenience aside, I love having this data. Time tracking is best when it’s as easy and frictionless as possible. And using Timeular is pretty frictionless. I’ve learnt things about my habits and routines this month and been able to make important changes to how my days are structured.

At least for now, Timeular feels like a good investment. Only time will tell how I feel about Timeular once we can all travel again.

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