Time Tracking

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Time Monitoring FormWeekly time use chartTime Management MatrixTask Analysis Chart

Monitoring my time and accomplishments

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of activity
How well did I use my time?
1 = poorly,
5 = very well
Analysis: Why did I rate the task in this way?
(e.g., I accomplished/didn’t accomplish my goal)


Instructions for time monitoring

A.   General time monitoring

This form could also provide an overview of everything you do over a period of several days.

1.    Monitor

Over the course of two days (one busy class day and one less structured weekend day), keep a record of all your activities from the time you get up till you go to bed. For example, 8 – 8:30: getting ready (includes waking, washing, dressing, breakfast), 8:30 – 9:00: walking to campus; 9:00 – 10:00: library prep and reading Chapter 1 (PSYC100); 10:00 – 10:30: talking on Google Chat to friend, 10:30 to 12:00 attending PSYC100 class, etc.

2.  Analyze

At the end of the day, review each activity and rate yourself (from 1 = poor, to 5 = great) according to how well you used the time. Was the amount of time necessary to the task? Did you accomplish what you wanted to in the time allowed? Could you have used the time better? The analysis column is for comments like “good use of time,” “waste of time,” “too tired to concentrate,” “felt focused.” Notice patterns of effective vs. ineffective time use.

3.  Revise

Notice your most effective and least effective times of the day for doing school work. Schedule difficult subjects during the most effective times of day. Plan your healthy breaks during times when you feel less energetic, cannot concentrate, etc. Make a list of break activities that re-energize you (e.g., physical activities you enjoy, meeting friends, playing or listening to music, power-napping). Implement your new plan for two weeks, then monitor yourself again.

B.   Monitoring Your Academic Accomplishments


  • Know real time spent on academic work
  • Track and increase productivity
  • Increase motivation
  • Decrease procrastination
  • Assist in re-prioritizing goals and tasks

Over the course of a week, record all your academic activities (studying, homework, assignments, etc.). Under the description column you may include “Product” tasks (i.e., tasks you have completed including small steps) and “Process” tasks (i.e., tasks which help you move toward a product, like analyzing a problem, brainstorming, or outlining an essay). The total “Time Used” now reflects the real time you spent doing academic tasks, not just the final outcomes.

Weekly time use chart

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Total time available: 168 hours per week

Activity # of hours / day # of hours / week
Meals: cooking and eating
Personal hygiene
Travel (to/from campus; going ‘home on weekends)
Time spent in class
Personal communication (email, phone, FB chat, texting)
Socializing with friends
Volunteer work
Extra-curricular activities
Watching TV, movies
Errands (laundry, groceries)
Total time used:


  1. Monitor: Estimate how much time you spend on all your weekly activities (max: 168 hours/week).
  2. Analyze: Are you satisfied with the amount of time spent on each activity, both daily and weekly? Where might you be spending too much or too little time?
  3. Revising: What do you want to change? Continue doing?

Time Management Matrix

Adapted from The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey, 1990.

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Urgent Not Urgent
Important A

Pressing problems
Deadline-driven projects


Personal enhancement Relationship-building Recognizing new opportunities Planning, recreation

Not Important C

Interruptions, some calls
Some email, FB chat
Some meetings
Pressing matters
Popular activities


Trivia, busy work
Some email, some chat
Some phone calls
Time wasters
Pleasant activities

Consequences of spending time in each quadrant:

Urgent Not Urgent
Important A

Crisis management
Always putting out fires


Vision, perspective
Few crises

Not Important C

Short-term focused
Crisis management
See goals and plans as worthless
Controlled by other people’s priorities
Feel victimized, out of control


Total irresponsibility
Fired from jobs
Dependent on others for basics

Interpretation of the Time Management Matrix

Which activities would you like to spend most of your time doing? A, B, C or D?

Type A: The “Fire Fighter” Trap

“I must do now or the house will burn down!”

Examples: cramming for tests, last minute essay writing – deadline tomorrow, friend in crisis needs to talk, need to arrange for accommodations on exam, bill needs to be paid, etc.

Type B: “This is what it’s all about”

  • Many activities in life are TYPE B.
  • Type B activities require planning and initiative. They also require time to reflect.
  • Type B activities are easily put on hold due to lack of urgency.

Type C: The “I can’t say no” Trap

“I don’t consider this important or satisfying but I have a hard time getting away from it and it prevents me from accomplishing the important stuff.”

Type D: The “Procrastinator” Trap

“I’ll just do this because it is easy, mindless and helps me avoid the hard stuff activities.”


Covey breaks activities into four groups or quadrants:

  1. important-urgent
  2. important-not urgent
  3. not important-urgent
  4. not important-not urgent

Look at your goals in relation to each quadrant and assess where each of them fits.

Although you might have Type A goals from time to time, the ultimate aim is to spend most of your time working in the Type B quadrant. In other words, do important, but not urgent, tasks first.

If you are finding yourself more often in the Type A quadrant, you are in crisis mode. Perhaps you are procrastinating, stressing too much or do not yet have strong time management skills.

Covey found that highly effective people spend some of their time in the B quadrant (i.e., they are not crisis managers but time managers). Try not to let Bs become As.

Task Analysis Chart

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Course:                               Assignment:                                                (e.g., writing a research paper)

Step / task Completion date Estimated time needed Actual time taken

(e.g., analyze topic)


(e.g., develop research questions)


(e.g., read for general understanding)


(e.g., develop thesis)


(e.g., find relevant research and take notes)


(e.g., develop an outline)


(e.g., write first draft)


(e.g., write second draft: reorganize, add research)


(e.g., add conclusion)


(e.g., copy-edit final draft for typos, etc.)


Instructions for task analysis

  1. For major assignments (e.g., research papers, projects, theses) requiring several steps, break them down into small, manageable steps. See examples above.
  1. Estimate time required for each step. If you’re not sure about timing, overestimate. We recommend adding about 25%. For example, if you think the task will take an hour, allocate an hour and fifteen minutes. It’s better to have more time than less. If you get finished in an hour, you have an additional 15 minutes to do something else.
  1. Back plan from the final deadline. Instead of starting with the first step, determine what date you would like to finish the assignment and then work backwards from there. Back planning can help to ensure you don’t run out of time and/or assignments can be handed in when you want them to be.
  1. Keep track of the actual time required to complete each step.
  1. Reward yourself for completing a step.
  1. Use this record when planning future assignments.

Note: An online Assignment Calculator for breaking large research papers into smaller tasks is also available.