Activity Recording Spreadsheet
Every time you complete an activity, the idea is to record what the activity was and the time of completion in a spreadsheet, using special shorthands to allow fast data-entry. For example you might write something like this:
which would indicate sleeping (the code s) from 00:00 to 08:00, then getting ready (the code p) until 08:30, then breakfast (the code eb, which stands for "eating - breakfast") until 09:00 and so on. Generally I record only activities that take at least 5-10 minutes.
The spreadsheet is able to recognise the codes and use them to give you detailed information on how much time, either day by day or overall, has been spent on each activity. The activities are grouped into categories (for example there is also "eating - lunch" and "eating - dinner" which make it easy to get a broad overview of types of time-usage. Also available are graphs, which show how productivity varies from day to day. You can view an example spreadsheet that starts with the data above.
Alternatively you may wish to record just the codes in a notebook, and then periodically type them up in the spreadsheet to see the resulting summaries.
The spreadsheet has five tabs:
- Entries: Here you enter a record of what you have done, using shorthand codes for acitivites to save on writing and typing. Enter the date you start in cell A2 (but do not write in any other cell of column A, these will update automatically). Then in columns B and C enter the time you start an activity and its shorthand. The activity is assumed to terminate when the next one starts. So for example in the sample spreadsheet we have sleep from 0:00 to 8:00, followed by preparation until 8:30 and so on. The shorthand cell will turn red if the given shorthand does not exist yet in the "Categories" sheet, which is useful for catching typos.
- Categories: Here you specify what all the shorthands mean. Each activity receives a rating from 1 to 4 according to how meritorious it is, or is 0 for unrated. How you rate different activities is completely up to you. Then the activity is described increasingly precisely by levels 1-3. Try to avoid having too many different level 1s as it makes the data harder to analyse.
- Results: This is a pivot table displaying the total amounts in minutes of each activity performed each day. It will not update automatically; you need to right-click and select Refresh. As you can see, activites are grouped by Rating and then by levels; you can use the little + and - buttons to view more or less detail.
- Processing: Used to build the graphs; you can ignore it for now.
- Graphs: The first graph displays the amount of each rating 1-4 performed each day; red=1, blue=2, yellow=3, green=4. The second graph displays the average rating of all rated (rating non-zero) activites. Once there is enough data, seven day moving averages will appear on these graphs.
Cells in the spreadhsheets in which the top-right corner is shaded in contain comments - hover over them for more information.
Email: re-order and punctuate appropriately cmu, edu and jd1. Office: Wean 7112, Carnegie Mellon University
This is a blank spreadsheet in which you can begin entering data. The cells shaded light yellow in the "Entries" and "Categories" sheets are the only ones in which you should need to type. Please send me an email if you have any suggestions or would like any assistance.
There is a more advanced version of this spreadsheet that also records the places activities occur and the people with whom they are performed. If you would like to move on to this then please let me know and I will send you a blank copy with instructions.