Three Things I’ve Learned By Tracking Work Hours
At one time or another, all of us are prone to overwork and addicted to busyness. It could mean that we’re hyper-focused on an actual paid job, or it could be that we’re really jazzed about a new hobby.
But when hyper-focus hits – whether it’s by our own choosing or that of an employer – it can be all too easy to lose track of time. Worse, it can be too easy for us to deceive ourselves about how much time we actually spend on the focus du jour.
At the beginning of this year, I was there. (Actually I was there for pretty much all of the previous year: overworking was the rule, not the exception.) So this year, I decided it was time for an honest and fair assessment: how much time am I spending at work vs. rest? How often am I taking a true 24 hour Sabbath? How much am I being asked to do vs. doing just because I wanna?
So I started tracking my work time: every day. Every hour. Every minute. If it was church or ministry related, it was tracked. (Editor’s note: do you see the irony in adding work to your work so that you can track your work? Discuss.)
Just a few months into that tracking journey, I’ve learned a few things about myself:
- Not all of my busyness is generated by others. I tend to be – as I mentioned in the opening paragraph – addicted to busyness. In those intense seasons, I can sometimes chalk it up to multiple projects, but a lot of it is my own doing.
- I have to work towards Sabbath. That sounds a little nonsensical. After all, Sabbath is a time of rest. But for me to truly take advantage of Sabbath, I have to spend a portion of the other six days thinking about what I’m not going to do for that 24 hour period.
- It really is possible to restore balance. It’s happening. Slowly and sometimes painfully, but it’s happening. Seeing the actual hours in stark reality helped me to shave an hour here and there. I know there will be peaks from time to time, but I am seeing a healthier ebb and flow.
Here’s the reality: I enjoy work. I really love my job. I love rolling up my sleeves and digging into a project. I’m of the theological bent that work – in its original state – was part of God’s creation, and so it was absolutely “good.” And work – after things went south in the garden – can still bring glory to God and a sense of fulfillment to us. As Keller says in Every Good Endeavor: “God made the world to need work. He made it such that even he had to work for it to become what he designed it to be, to bring forth all its riches and potential.”
But I don’t want the nobility of work to be the primary driver of my life. There’s a danger there. And maybe that danger lurks in your life. So if you’re a fellow over-worker like me – whether it’s your paid vocation or a really fun hobby – consider tracking your time and getting honest with yourself about how much time you’re actually investing.
(By the way, I’ve used an app / website called Clockify to do the tracking. The free version is more than sufficient, and it’s an easy way to keep up with your work without adding more work.)