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The Time Lords Manual is a series of 1-minute reads on how to become a master of your time. (You can read the Time Lords Manifesto here).

Keeping track of how you fill your day is one of the easiest ways to identify and cut down on wasted time. This theory, which we call Ticker Tracking, sounds simple in practice, but it requires meticulous dedication.

Here’s how it works: use a stopwatch (the one on your phone works, but using an external device can help serve as a physical reminder to restart when you switch tasks, as it won’t get lost in a shuffle of apps) and time yourself for every activity you do. When you’re switching tasks, write down how long the previous activity took and restart for the next one.

The key here is remembering to put every activity on the clock, especially the mundane ones. Don’t underestimate the power of good bookkeeping during this exercise either. Visualizing everything accurately will reveal the proportion of time spent on what you consider worthwhile vs. what you don’t. Thus, Ticker Tracking functions not only as a method for optimizing daily habits, but as a philosophical appraisal too.

Additionally, putting yourself on the clock will highlight parts of your day where you get sucked into the infinite scroll. Imagine you’re designing a new product and you get the urge to check your Twitter feed (it happens to us all). Track that behavior, and you’ll be forced to reckon with the amount of worthwhile time derived from that investment later, even if you submitted to the distraction at the time.  

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This makes you more conscientious of your time investments throughout your day. Not to mention, the act of “being on the clock” will gradually help you fight the desire to take lots of quick micro-breaks.

Of course, there are a few tech companies that can automate this for you if rocking an analogue stopwatch and notebook is too archaic for you.  RescueTime has built a dead simple way to automatically time your digital activities and manually time your activities in the physical world. It’s also free.

TimeFlip, offers a dodecahedron die with sensors to help.  Activities adorn the sides of the die, and whichever face is pointing upward pairs with an associated app to record your current activity.

We know from Amy + Andrew how valuable adding time back to your day can be, down to the second. Ticker Tracking shows you where you can find more opportunities to do just that.

Read our previous Time Lord’s manual entry on Inbox Zero, and become a Time Lord here.

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