I was reviewing my list of projects and I realize that its gotten way too long. I have too much time debt. It may sound strange to call it that. I look at it like I do finances. If you are collecting too much debt, you need to analyze how you are collecting it. With my checking account, I can easily just pull a list of all my transactions. It's a little harder when we talk about time. There is no record being generated automatically.
In order to analyze my time, I need to start tracking it. I read about several ways to do it and I settled on something fairly simple. I opened up Excel and made a table with these headings. Day, Time, Minutes, Description, and Category. Every time I change tasks, I write down the time and a short 2-3 word description. I try to write down the number of minutes I spent at the same time, but I don't care if I miss a few. It is easy enough to calculate after the fact.
I am using very broad categories. I want a high level view of where my time is spent. I think I have about 7-9 things that I am tracking but they roll up into 3 large buckets. Support, Other, and My Projects. At the end of the day, I will make sure to date all the entries to assist in later analysis.
The whole point of me collecting this data is to analyse it. The results have been interesting so far. A strong third of my day is end user support. This is a measure of overflow from the help desk. Ideally we have enough support staff to handle support issues. The next third of my day is meetings, reviewing items with the rest of the team, and email. The last third of my day is me working on my projects.
These results are interesting because I am not getting as much work done as I thought I was. I am busy all the time, but not enough of that it going toward my projects. I initially estimated my project list at 56 weeks. With these new metrics, its more like 3 years worth of stuff.
I am going to keep tracking my time to see if I am able to improve these numbers.