I prefer to theorise with at least a little data, so here’s a tool I’ve created to track my time and work out how to add structure to my work-from-home life.
In contrast to some of those around me (*cough*coffeeaddicts*cough*) I’m a ‘morning’ person, in that if left to my own devices and with enough sleep, I will go PING! approximately 9 hours after I go to bed, with a desire to do ALL THE THINGS. However my days then vary between getting derailed by breaks, getting so into something I forget to stop and burn out, or grinding along indefinitely, never hitting ‘flow’, but never truly relaxing either.
I’ve also noticed that some tasks are harder than others at different times of day – I’m great at assembly first thing, but struggle to plan or perform language tasks. I can write fairly well during the day, but planning’s best done last thing.
I’d like to work out when to schedule tasks, breaks, exercise, food, recreation and so on, to get the most out of myself, outside an externally imposed 9-5 and the rhythms of an office. When you work from home it makes sense to go to the shops when they’re quiet, or do the washing while the machine’s free, but that can throw everything else off if you don’t compensate.
Inspired by this post on Productive Flourishing about heat-mapping your day, I decided to eschew vague anecdata and collect some actual information. Am I useful or useless, do I need fuel or to relax, will I get derailed for the day or is it OK to mix it up with chores?
The guy who devised the circular heatmap has lots to say about defining what qualifies as a ‘productive’ state, which I found a bit confusing, so I’m not sure how I’ll define what I’m tracking, but I hope to figure it out as I go along. I might include additional info such as drawing stars to mark good ideas appearing, for example.
I was also inspired by the mood tracker provided by medhelp.org to create an extra track where things such as mood, tummyaches or other anything else could be recorded.
I love the idea of a circular map, so I think I’m more likely to use it than a histogram or other format, but I didn’t want to waste a whole sheet of paper for each day as laid out in the original pdf (it felt a bit like something from primary school!) so I’ve combined my design with a cute little booklet-making technique my friend shared the other day.
The result is a nifty little booklet which lets you note the day in the centre of the circle, record two streams of informtion around the 24 hour clock face, and keep a key on the front cover to help interpret your records. One you’ve got enough information, you can use the space on the back page to create a generalised picture of the way your state fluctuates, to use when planning out your day. That’s the plan, anyway!
Without further ado, download this:
Heatmapping your day, A4 pdf booklet
To make this:
Adding a staple in the middle of the central pages will help it hold together nicely.