Plenty of people would like to track their time, and there are many ways to do this. But it turns out there’s one particular time when people would like to start. According to data shared with me by time-tracking app Toggl, Monday is (by far) the most popular day when their users start tracking time. As for time of year? January (on the back of New Year’s resolutions) and then September, when the school year starts.
We want new beginnings to start new habits of productivity, which makes sense. We have ideas that we will be new versions of ourselves, and so we wait for some natural new starting point to get going.
But if we really want to make a change, why wait?
When I started keeping track of my time continuously in April, I started on a Thursday. I wanted to make this a new habit, and if it was a new habit I truly wanted, then I wanted it now. There was no need to wait. True, my time-tracking spreadsheet starts on Monday. But you can cycle back around to the first column if you want. Or download a second one. They’re free!
Likewise, I tell people not to wait for a typical week. Part of this is philosophical. There are no typical weeks, and an assumption that a week isn’t typical is what gives us faulty impressions of our lives. Mid-September is no more emblematic of life than mid-July.
It’s also practical. If it’s a particularly crazy week, tracking gives important insights. We see what we still make time for, even during busy times. We see what gives — and maybe that shows what’s not as important. If it’s a low key week, it’s neat to see what gets done with found time. Maybe nothing, but that’s important to know too.
I’ve now tracked two continuous months of my life. While these weeks are in some ways atypical (book launch!) the assumptions I made about their being atypical have largely been wrong. I’m sleeping the same quantity as I did when I didn’t have an infant. I’m working fewer hours than in many time logs past, despite the launch. I think these things are good to know.
A version of this article originally appeared on Laura Vanderkam’s website.