Ayan Ray

Thoughts on Software Engineering

Productivity and Motivational Tip: Time Cost Table

I’m not sure if this is a standard tool, but I created it for myself to start seeing where my time was going and thought it could be valuable to others. Your personal time is valuable. And like anything valuable, you need to know what’s happening on a regular basis. It may not seem sensible at first, but I suggest creating what I call a time cost table. At the heart of it is knowledge — knowledge of where your valuable time is going. It is flexible in that you can use it in a relaxed or a strict way and still receive the benefits of using it.

So here’s what it looks like:

Start Time End Time Duration Item
7:02 pm 8:15 pm 1 hr 13 min Studied for GMAT – quantitative section
8:16 pm 8:45 pm 30 min Ate Dinner
8:46 pm 10:32 pm 1 hr 46 min Studied again for GMAT
Total for the day:  2 hr 59 min GMAT // 30 min break

To use it, simply create your own in a word processing suite etc.  using the full page and the column headers in the example and start writing down start time and end times for work and break blocks. If you are working on homework, write it down. If you are watching TV, write it down. I try to imagine that I’m being paid for work or a goal for a certain day, say studying for GMAT for example, and that I have to work 7 hours for example on a free Saturday. By writing down the time, I can see where I take breaks, how long I take it, when I wake up, how long I actually study and subsequently how much I should be ‘paid’ for my time. Lawyers and other professionals use the concept of billable hours and a plan like this makes it easy to see how many hours are you billing per day. Imagine billing 9 hours per day for a goal, can you do it? What about 13? Now that’s hard.

Hopefully this helps make you more productive, procrastinate less, and reach and plan your goals accordingly.

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