Every productivity tool is different, and not all of them might be useful to you. That’s why it is important to experiment. Maybe this minimalist productivity tracker is for you. It’s a super simple design and you can use it just like any habit tracker.
What’s the difference between a productivity tracker and a habit tracker?
A habit tracker is a weekly or daily sheet, very common in bullet journaling, used to track activities. It is used to quantify daily progress in one’s commitment to an activity.
A productivity tracker works just like a habit tracker, but focuses only on activities that can be seen as productive. In a habit tracker you might track how often you go for a run, do yoga or eat well. In a productivity tracker you might capture how much time you spent on learning a new language, look for new job offers or participate in an online class.
Why use a productivity tracker?
I want to add that in my opinion it does not make sense to use a productivity tracker long-term. It is a great short-term tool to boost motivation. But it can get compulsive, if you do it everyday for a while. Don’t do that.
Instead focus on finding out where you waste time and when you are most productive. Here are some examples of what a productivity tracker can be good for:
- Find out when you are most productive.
Are you an early-bird or a night-owl? Maybe you have a vague idea, but you’re not quite sure yet.
- Tackle procrastination.
You can clearly see when you are wasting time on a productivity tracker.
- Keep a healthy work-life balance.
Do you bring home work? Do you tend to sprinkle work tasks all over your day? If you track it, you will know.
- Plan future tasks better.
Once you know when you can work most productively, try to keep those periods of time free of distraction, and use them to get the most annoying tasks done then.
Examples for how you can use this productivity tracker
- Track how many time the sub-tasks of a project actually require.
- Find your most and least productive periods of time throughout the day.
- Use the weekly spreads to see how you’re progressing week-to-week.
Tips and annotations
The maximum resolution of this tracker is hourly. I did not want to make it too complicated. Also, our experience of how much time has passed is usually strongly influenced by the daytime. And the most important parameter of daytime is the hour of the day. Also, committing to an activity for less than in hour is not really committing, is it?
The hour of the day axis ranges from 6:00 AM to 11:00 PM. Why? Because I don’t advocate for people being »productive« until midnight. I’m the biggest owl of all, don’t start me on this… but you can’t fool me. Even if you are productive so late at night, it’s most likely still not a healthy habit, and therefore nothing I want to support.
It’s old news that happiness and »not being an owl« correlate. Night owls are depressed more often, probably because all the social fun happens during daytime. And there are boundaries to any distribution. Working until midnight is definitely on the fringe of the distro and far from normal, even for night owls. So don’t fool yourself and get some sleep, okay?