"I started building 'book deciding time' into my life, where I'd think about what I wish to read next and look at reviews and figure out what other people are reading," she says. "As a result, not only was it that I started reading more, I started reading a lot more interesting books, too."
While she admits that tracking your routine for three years is extreme, Vanderkam says you can start on a much smaller scale by creating a weekly spreadsheet that is broken into half-hour and one-hour blocks. Each day, she says you should check your spreadsheet roughly three times to fill in the activities you've been doing. She recommends that you avoid wasting time by recording tedious tasks like bathroom breaks, and instead focus on tracking tasks like work, sleep, driving, making dinner or hanging out with your kids.
By doing this, she says you will likely discover that no matter how busy you are, you still have some space in your schedule that can be rearranged for more meaningful and enjoyable activities. You may discover, for example, that you spend a lot of time before bed browsing online or doing unnecessary things around the house. Now, with a spreadsheet that tracks your day, you may see that you have room to go to bed earlier so that you can wake up earlier to work out or have that leisurely family breakfast that you always felt you were too busy for.
"I think it's about seeing where the time goes and then you can ask, 'Well, am I spending my time in ways that are meaningful and enjoyable to me and the people I care about?'" she says. "And if not, how can I change that? And if I am, let's celebrate that because that's really awesome!"
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