Being Busy Isn’t the Same as Being Productive

Tracking my time allows me to discover what I waste my time on and ultimately manage my productivity. This is of particularly importance to me as I work on my dissertation. I felt I was working towards my completion goal, but I was actually spending a lot of time “doing” and feeling busy with tasks that worked around my dissertation and not on my dissertation.

Being busy isn’t the same as being productive; therefore, I had to put my energies into finishing my dissertation and not into being busy with my dissertation.

I solved my problem very easily. I track my time, but the time sheet didn’t have enough detail. First, I added more categories to my time sheet so I could accurately track time I spend working about my topic.

I also added categories for time at the computer, but was wasted, such as looking at news sites several times a day. I was very surprised to discover that I spend about 23 hours per month reading the news. That’s about 45 minutes per day, seven days per week that could be used productively.

Next, I divided my dissertation time into activities: writing, reading, library search time, meetings, admin tasks, and other. I tracked my time over the last two months, excluding the two weeks period used to write my candidacy exams.

Based on the data, I created the weekly goal of 49% of my dissertation time spent on writing, 33% on reading, 15% on searching, <1% on meetings, <1% on admin tasks, and <1% on other.

This time allotment will change as the project progresses, particularly during the data collection phase and again during the write up phase. Nonetheless, it provides me with a guide to help me hone my time management skills.

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