5 common ways to categorize time

When we analyze activities, we do not directly analyze 30 individual activities, but often look at the proportion of a large category first.

This means that you need to distinguish between 30 different activities in some sort of categorization, and I present 5 common categorization methods.

  • (i) Classifications of a transactional nature

Transactional classification focuses on describing the activity itself, subordinated to the size of the scope of things. For example, this classification chart.

The subordinate relationship is that "washing" and "brushing" are both "washing" and "cleaning", while "washing" and "cleaning" are both "daily life".

If we break it down, "wash your face" is a three-level classification, "wash and rinse" is a two-level classification, and "daily life" is a one-level classification, because using all three-level classifications will increase the number of classifications significantly, and using all one-level classifications is too few and cannot achieve the purpose of tracking, so we will say that we will keep 30 two-level classifications after compromise.

S1-S7 in the figure above represents the first level classification of activity, and the earning, recording, and commuting represent the sub-level classifications.

After collation, their correspondence is as follows:

My current TimeTrack interface is categorized by transactional, and is amended once a year to add and subtract activities based on length of time spent.

Using this categorization, the complete principle is.

  1. <7 for level 1 and <30 for sublevel

  2. Classification levels are subordinate and independent of each other, completely exhaustive

  3. Frequent switching and constant time, leaving only large activity categories, details written in notes

  4. Throw all the less time-consuming little categories into "other."

If you look at it more closely, you may wonder if "sleep" can be subordinated to "daily life", but why create a separate level of classification?

Because of the second principle, "frequent switching and constant time, only the category of large activities", sleep time is basically a constant 8 hours, such a constant time, if classified in the "daily life" together with the analysis, some changes will be overlooked because the relative changes are not obvious.

There are so many things to do in a day's work, why leave only one category of "work"? Because "work" needs to be switched frequently, e.g. work consists of "writing reports, meeting, greeting clients", etc., work scenes tend to have few separate large blocks of time and your work is often interrupted.

If you get interrupted once and switch once, it's too costly, so I tend to just record the "work", get interrupted halfway through, and just throw in a note about what you did.

Finally, such small activities as "express delivery" and "medical examination" may take less than five hours a year together, there is no need to create a separate category in the interface, so that you can keep in mind every day, just replace them with "other" activity items with notes.

It's okay to use this "transactional classification + notes on details + 'other'" to keep the classification to 30, why 30?

Because the phone is just within one screen, avoiding the drop down to find the activity saves effort!

  • (ii) Profit and loss classification

Profit and loss classification is a distinction made in terms of the "good and bad of time".

For example, we can classify "entertainment" and "games" as "damage events", "writing" and "reading" as "time", and "washing" and "travel" as "neutral time".

For example, I used to classify "sleep" under "damage time", and felt guilty when I slept longer, and tried to improve my efficiency by compressing my sleep time, but it turned out to be a bad idea, so I reclassified "sleep" to "neutral time", and will be much more comfortable when I enable it again in the future.

While TimeTrack's "job" is to keep track of time, the simple classification of profit and loss can sometimes lead you into a "single indicator trap" because even with "entertainment," there's good entertainment and bad entertainment and you can't generalize.

The most important thing is that we can't beat the people who play the game to death with a stick, saying that playing the game is degenerate is not doing the right thing, playing the game can also learn knowledge, such as LOL to learn teamwork, martial arts to learn human body acupuncture points map, astrology tactics and so on, but these acts are relatively low output.

For example, I analyze the "gains" from watching movies during "entertainment" time as follows.

The "1" mark on the back of the film or television drama that generates positive sentiment was found to be a success, accounting for 32.5 per cent of all film or television drama.

By the same token, we can use this method to analyze the rate of return on all behaviors during "entertainment" time.

For example, "entertainment" time consists of movies and dramas, playing mobile phones and games. I found the yields to be in order of high to low: telenovela > play games > play mobile. So what's our first priority? Of course, you have to find a way to control yourself to play mobile phones, after all, it is "poor to poor", not only does it hurt the time, but also the yield is particularly low, that is to say, the time spent playing mobile phones is like water, not even a splash.

  • (iii) Categorization of scenarios

We can also categorize the time according to different scenarios, such as time at home, time on the road, time at work.

Find the most efficient scenario for yourself by analyzing the distribution of activity items for different scenarios.

  • (iv) Categorization of priorities

We often use the four-quadrant model for prioritization, then we can also categorize according to the priorities of important and urgent, important but not urgent, not important but urgent, not important and not urgent.

Increase their own sustainability by analyzing the amount of time spent in these four quadrant types each day, proactively increasing the proportion of "not urgent but important" events and proactively decreasing the proportion of "neither important nor urgent" events.

(v) Role categorization

There is also an implied classification when we enable any one activity item, and that is, did you do it independently, or was it done by multiple people? For example, the same is true of "work", where the role may be just "me" or "me and my colleagues", or "me and my friends".

You can find out how much you're paying attention to different roles by using different character markers, such as whether you're spending more time as a "staff" or as a "child".

From these five classifications we can find that some classifications correspond to activities one by one, while another classifications and activities are readily variable. For example, the "wash" of the transactional classification is fixedly subordinate to "daily life", while the priority classification "work" can be either "important and urgent" or "not important but urgent".

I myself in the TimeTrack interface with "S*" mark the transactional classification, in Excel with the vlookup function to match the increase in the "profit and loss classification", these two classifications and activities are long-term fixed, such as "entertainment" subordinate to "entertainment and leisure", and at the same time is "damage time".

The other three classifications are variable, such as when "work" is enabled, I may be involved in more than one role, and the work at hand may be "important and urgent", or I may be "on my way" to complete the work.

This variable classification can be implemented using TimeTrack's built-in "tags" function.

When you open the activity, write a label in the "tab bar", put a different label, and when you export the data we will see an extra column of label data in the table.

The more granular your categorization of different activities, the more content you can dig deeper into through Excel analysis at a later stage, but you'll need to weigh the input of setting up the categorization and labeling up front and pick the one that works best for you.

I currently use transactional and profit-and-loss categorization and do not use the tagging feature.

Some students also found that I use Excel to match and replace the way to add categories, why not directly use TimeTrack's own "group" function?

Operation: In the category tab - "+" in the upper right corner - turn on the "Groups" switch - set the group name, such as "Entertainment and Leisure".

Then go to the newly created group and click on the "+" sign of the item to add all the activities that belong under "Recreation".

Once completed, you can see all the time trends in the last 30 days of activity in the bar chart area.

When the Groups feature is enabled, the Activity tab screen will show only the first level of classification and then the number of subclasses included in the top right corner.

If you need to start recording sub items, you need to click twice to reach the target activity, which increases the recording cost. If you want to use the group function at the same time, but all the activity items are not collapsed, you can open it in "More - Settings - Activity tab group".

Want to re-classify a group you've already classified under another group? To edit, just move to the top level.

Then why don't I use "groups"? Because you cannot sort by individual activities after setting "Groups".

For example:

Now I set AB two groups, the activities within the group are abc and de, I open the "activity tag group" function, TimeTrack activity page shows all subclass activities, but when I adjust the activity sorting in the category page, I find that the abc under group A can't break the limit of A, that is, I hope the sorting of the interface is cdeab result doesn't work, because d belongs to group B, so the sorting is across groups.

In practice, I think "layout by frequency" is more important than "group statistics", and I can use "S*" instead of group function, so I won't use group function.

After your activity categorization and time categorization are resolved, you may have this question during the actual switching of activities.

When I do several things at the same time, how do I keep track at this point?

In the next section, tell you about the 3 solutions I recommend.