Consumption: A Time Audit

The world’s insane.

Think of every big news story or social media hit in the last week alone.

When friends ask how we’re doing, it’s no surprise that our top responses are always; “Busy!Things have been crazy busy!” Imagine an alien had been watching you for the last week.What would they have seen?

We wake up, roll over and check Instagram.

Then we go to work, log in, and start reading random business/celebrity blogs.

Slideshow after slideshow.

Later, after work, we read Reddit and watch TV.We consume all day. If you had asked someone twenty years ago to read a ‘newsfeed’ filled with the “information” the average internet user does today. “Information” about their acquaintances or petty fights between politicians.

For ten or more hours every single day. That person would have expected to be paid. Now-days we pay to do this.We pay by trading our personal information and by watching ads. Sometimes native content ads.

I’m not guiltless. I want to click that Facebook button and see the latest updates.

I get a jolt of energy when I see someone left a comment.

I can’t believe Miley Cyrus said that either.

But did I get anything meaningful done?

Did I do anything I’ll remember in 10 years?

Will I even remember this stuff next week?

What do I remember from 10 years ago?

What would be amazing to look back on, ten years from now?

I think most of us have the haunting suspicion that we’re wasting a lot of time playing games that are engineered to claw our attention, only to look back and realise; we haven’t been living life. We’ve become a world of spectators.

On a daily basis, the most significant risk we take is checking our email as we’re taking a piss. If you don’t have your weekend plans laid out by Tuesday, stop what you’re doing and make them.Think about how uncomfortable that makes us feel.

“Why should I have to PLAN my weekend? I just want to relax; this is stupid…”

Notice that nobody told you-you to have to read a nuclear engineering textbook or build a house for poor people.

You can plan to watch a movie and eat nachos if you want!!If the past is a good predictor of the future — and it is, uncomfortably so — most of us reflexively avoid making plans and therefore do the same thing we’ve always done: nothing.

Why?

We want to stay “flexible.”

I like flexibility too.

I also want to look back on my time in this world and see myself getting something done. Not just a series of repeat days of blog-reading, Netflix-binging, and random social-media clicking.

In reality, ‘flexibility’ is a lie though.

We don’t want the ability to move around our plans and make adjustments depending on how we feel when the time comes.

If we were brutally honest with ourselves, it is a fear of missing out.

So we don’t make plans, ironically, causing us to miss out on more.

Like Buridan’s Ass we doomed to scroll through our respective feeds watching others do SOMETHING while we avoid missing out on something BETTER.

Isn’t it time to change? Have you ever completed a time audit

Do you know how much time you’re spending consuming?

There is often a significant discrepancy between the way you spend your time and the way you think you spend your time. A time audit is just keeping a log of your time.

This works to a certain extent, but it tends to show better how you plan or want to spend your time instead of how your time is being spent. For a time audit to be effective, it needs to reflect your strict minute-to-minute schedule.

Remember, how you spend your time, shows how your life is prioritised.

There are many different apps and trackers available for doing this. I would recommend if you haven’t done anything like this before that you just keep a log at the end of the day for a week. I think that pushing yourself, to be honest with what you’ve done each day is a positive part of the process.

Later you can get more specific with an app and online trackers. When I first started doing this, I set myself a goal of one year.

So I set a calendar event for a year (I use Google for most things so I knew my Gmail Calendar would still be around). I spent the first few months playing with trackers to find one that worked the best for me.

Of course, the google calendar has an inbuilt one, so that’s what I ended up using. This has the downside of being mostly self-tracked, but I trust myself after my initial test that I won’t be hard on myself if I’ve been bad at meeting my prioritised time.

It’s more important that it’s tracked than it is that I’m meeting all the goals I set for myself (as I can often be unreasonable with what I want to achieve). Which is why it can be so important to track actual time so that I can adjust my goal setting to be within my reach but not too easy.

You can’t accurately set goals without having already tested your capabilities.

Whether or not you use my material doesn’t matter to me — I just want you to think bigger than you have.

My philosophy is this: everyone has at least one remarkable book inside of them.If you’ve never thought of writing a book, come and let me challenge that assumption.

I can take you from never having thought of yourself as an author… to realising you could create something that people want to pay for… to make your first royalties online.

If you’re interested in scaling beyond that, to a career as a writer or to even publishing your first book, we can help you.

Having the knowledge, support, advice and inspiration from others striving for the same (with differing levels of success) can be invaluable.Sign up is free and you can unsubscribe at any time.  

Written By
Oliver Phisher is the author of The Plain White Room and he helps students finish their first manuscripts and get published. You can learn more about him at oliverphisher.com.