“I have a large family at home, with my kids and grandkids. I shared what I do everyday with my family to explain why I was always in a bad mood at the end of the day. I showed them how to draw their Daily Activities too, and everyone did it. Then we compared, and since then we’ve reallocated the work that needs to get done. I’m actually putting my feet up from time to time after work. And we’re spending more quality time together doing activities like gardening or cooking together.”
What do you spend your time doing?
Modern life seems busier than ever; many feel that they’re doing more but getting less done, and finding less time for leisure or play. Often, we’re moving so fast that it’s hard to get a handle on where we spend our time. With this tool, you can track your activities throughout a day or multiple days and visualize how you spend your day.
Scholars have explored how important it is to understand busyness. In the book Busier Than Ever! Why American Families Can’t Slow Down, C. N. Darrah, Jan English-Lueck and J. M. Freeman write:
“Busyness is so deeply ingrained in many of today’s families that people often take it for granted. It may seem so obvious as hardly to be worth analyzing. The activities that make up busyness may seem unimportant, but the phenomenon of busyness is anything but trivial. … Busyness reveals issues that reach to the heart of who we are and what we wish to become.”
So, pay attention to your activities, discover how you are prioritizing things today, and what changes you might want to make.
We purposefully designed this tool to not look like a calendar. Seeing things in a new way frees your mind to notice different patterns.
Our design, with it six pie sections, emphasizes categories having to do with care and interaction with others. You will see quite clearly how you allocate your time. Once you get comfortable with the tool, you might change the categories, or the number of pie sections.
What else jumps out is, of course, the colors, which represent different moods. The example above has a lot of gray and orange in the work category, meaning this person was often bored or anxious. While they were usually happy or calm during their social activities.
A lot of other data is also embedded in the drawing, including duration, spontaneity, and how many other people were involved.
“One of my employees was complaining about having too much to do. Rather than telling him where he was wasting time, I taught him to track Daily Activities with different categories. A few days later he came back having ‘discovered’ the problem, and solution, himself.”
“It just confirmed what I knew and it really stood out to me that I don’t practice a lot of self-care. It really reiterated what I already knew and how I need to be intentional about practicing self-care.”
“I figured out a lot about myself. I had thought maybe I was not getting enough rest because I’m tired a lot. Looking at my diagram, I noticed I don’t take any downtime whatsoever. I later used it to talk about ‘so this is what mom does, and mom needs a little break’. This also made me be sure to plan more fun things as a family for the summer.”
Daily Activities instructions, as well as Data Collection and Data Drawing templates, can be found on pages 22–27 the Mapping Ourselves workbook.
After completing your data drawing, answer the following questions to reflect on your data collection and drawing experience.
- In the creation and evaluation of this drawing, what stood out for you?
- How do you see your day occurring? Are there lots of brief activities? Long stretches of focus?
- Of the things in your control, what does how you spend your time tell you about what you value?
Here are some more suggestions for deeper reflection and exploration:
- How difficult was it to characterize each activity (work, social, etc.)? To what extent are the different aspects of your life overlapping?
- How much of your day requires technology? Is the overall impact of your technology use positive or not? Would you change anything?
- Outside of work, where do you spend most of your time?
- Do you see any patterns between activities and moods?
- How scheduled are your days?
- Do you tend to spend your time working alone or with others?
- Do you feel aligned; are you making time to do the things you value most?