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I tracked what I did for every hour of my life for the last 5 years, splitting all activities into 11 categories. It helped me stop wasting time.

Trevor Sweet headshotTrevor Sweet has been recording his life since high school.

Trevor Sweet

  • Trevor Sweet tracked every hour of his life starting when he was in high school, posting it on Reddit.
  • He said it helped him see when he was procrastinating too much, and looking at the data is an “engine for nostalgia.” 
  • Read about Trevor’s experiment and what he learned, as told to Samantha Delouya. 

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Trevor Sweet, a 22-year-old software developer. It has been edited for length and clarity.

I started tracking every hour of my life when I was in high school in 2017. Five years later, I’m still doing it and have no plans to stop.

I used 11 categories to track every hour of my life for 5 years.A zoomed out view of data Trevor Sweet collected every day of his life for 5 yearsData Trevor Sweet collected every hour of his life for 5 years

Trevor Sweet/Reddit

The categories I use are sleep, family, friends, dating/partner, school, work, productive, hobbies & skills, relaxation & leisure, waste, health & travel. Each category has a number and color designation. 

Initially, keeping track of what I was doing every hour was challenging. I would occasionally forget to keep track for a few days, and I’d have to backtrack to fill in the data by looking at texts, phone calls, and even my bank statement to jog my memory. 

Naturally, a lot of people thought the project was a little weird, and people would sometimes jokingly ask what category I was putting them into.

But overall, my friends and family were supportive and just curious about where it would go. 

It’s really interesting to look at the data and think about how each of these colored cells represents a moment in my life, some of which are pivotal moments. The project captured an important period of my life: my late teens and my entire college studies. One of my favorite parts is looking through all of it and getting some memories to come up that I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to remember. It’s sort of an engine for nostalgia: 

 

The best part was being able to see my memories over so many yearsZoomed out view of Trevor's yearly analysis based on the dataAnalysis by Trevor based on the data he recorded tracking every hour of his life for 5 years.

Trevor Sweet/Reddit

I didn’t fully see what I had gained from the project until I put it together and posted it on Reddit. It got a lot of traction, and lots of people have messaged me saying they’re interested in tracking their lives in this way, too. 

It helps me put certain events in my life into perspective. For example, the period between my graduating from college and starting my full-time job felt like such a long time, but when I looked at the project, I saw it was really only a couple of weeks. It made me realize that time can feel like it’s expanding or contracting based on how you feel about big events in your life. 

Tracking my activities also helped me see when I was wasting too much time or procrastinating too often. It helped me focus when I wanted to pursue personal projects or when I needed to spend more time on homework. It’s been an excellent tool to keep myself in check. 

I see no reason to stop tracking every hour of my life unless it starts to get in the way of me actually living my life. I would recommend anyone interested in documenting their life this way should try it and do it in the best way for them. At the very least, it’s a neat little project; on another level, it’s like filling out a journal or chronicling your life’s events. 

Read the original article on Business Insider