Author’s Note: I’m currently in the process of migrating old blog posts to this new system. That may mean some links, syntax highlighting, and other details are broken or missing temporarily. Sorry for the inconvenience!

If I had perfect self-control, and could dictate what my schedule looked like every day, it would probably involve getting up at 2am.

I love waking up early in the morning. Ridiculously early. Stupid early. Early enough that you could get a whole day’s work done before your coworkers get into the office. Early enough that you experience the morning fog that the snoozers don’t even realize exists. You can get any number of things done before the universe intrudes on your plans.

But I don’t have that self-control. I get up at wild hours. Meetings terrify me. 9am? But what if I’m asleep?! 4pm? I might be snoozing!

How do calendars work?

About a month ago, I stumbled across this reddit post.

There is nothing more conducive to procrastination than a todo list.

That hits kinda close to home. Stop disparaging my organizational system! I’ve got everything under control! What if I only TODO on weekends…

Okay, fine, I said to myself. Maybe it’s time to try a calendar.

There’s just one issue. If I don’t know when I’m going to be awake, it’s nearly impossible to plan a calendar with any lead time. What happens if I oversleep? Just guilt-trip my way through restructuring the day? I dunno about you, but organizational systems that result in a lot of guilt or shame tend to fall flat with me.

So I decided to try something different. It may not have all the benefits, but it has the advantage of me not having to admit that I screwed up.

The pointless calendar!

What’s a calendar’s number-one job? To tell you what’s coming up, right?

Okay, so my system doesn’t do that. I’ve been logging down each day whenever I task-switch, what I’ve been doing. Nothing gets on to my calendar until after I’m already done with it. Pointless, right?

Well yeah, sorta. But I’ve found that, just like with so many other things, I love having the information in retrospect. For example, here’s a breakdown of my activities over the past week (roughly 50% of the week’s hours are accounted for in calendar entries):

Survival includes things like showering, eating meals, cooking, buying groceries. Basic human-being-upkeep stuff. Leisure includes watching videos, playing games, so long as they’re not for the purpose of YouTube. The other categories are pretty self-explanatory.

I like to think of myself as a busy person. I’m releasing fifteen videos a week, holding down a full-time job, and I’m doing my best to cultivate piano practicing, meditation, and writing habits. Yet looking at this data, I’m spending almost as much time “chillaxin” as I am on the things I really want to be focusing on. To be clear: the leisure category isn’t “blank space between productive stuff on the calendar”. It’s very explicitly “Kevin marked down ‘Playing EVE Online’ for an hour” type of stuff. It just starts to add up after a while.

I think this is helping me

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of numbers and data and stuff. Data lies and leads to false conclusions, but it’s better than rampant speculation, right??! I want to keep tracking this sort of thing. I want to see just how much everything varies. See if there are patterns I can pick up on. See if the way I spend my time reflects my actual values. What’s fascinating to me is that if you had asked me to draw out a pie chart of my last week, I would have drawn a completely different thing. Our subjective experience of time is entirely divorced from reality.

What do you spend your time doing? Are you sure?