Most of us wish there were 36 hours in a day. Barring supernatural time-travel ability, we have to decide how we’re going to spend the time that we have.
Time-tracking is one of the best techniques for developing an understanding of how you spend your day, determining how much discretionary time you actually have in a day, and discovering where inefficiencies exist. It’s recommended in The Now Habit by Neil Fiore and by many other efficiency experts.
While it sounds like a burden, the purpose is actually the opposite–to help you find time for the things that you really value.
I’ve made up Excel spreadsheets that work for both regular years and leap years. Color code your main activities and add text to describe them in more detail. For example, I separate my work activities into advertising, writing, and admin/other, while I separate non-work generally into working out, chores, homeschooling, sleep, and recreation/family time/meals/other. I find that I fritter away a lot less time if I track what I’m doing because I’m more aware of it. (Some people think I do things like this because I’m hyper-organized. The reverse is actually the case!)
I used 30 minute blocks because I use the pomodoro technique, and each pomo + break is two regular blocks. I don’t count the breaks in the spreadsheet, but unless I’m deep in a flow state, I take them.
Then use a macro to count up the number of cells of each color to determine what you spend your time on. (The macro isn’t included in the files because so many antivirus programs frown on macros from the web, but it isn’t hard to add yourself.)
This will both keep you on track and expose inefficiencies in your days, where you are needlessly spending time on things you consider to be low-value.