Mastering Your Day: Review of ZEI Timetracker
I need more time. Another day, another hour, another minute.
One the most common responses I gave and received as a consultant. The challenging aspect about managing multiple clients / contracts / projects was learning how to manage my time. As a solution, I ordered the ZEI , a tangible time tracker produced by some clever Germans.
How it Works
I have never been that good at managing my time. Multi-tasking is the worst and I'm skeptical of anyone that says they thrive in the chaos of replying to their boss' email, running analyses, replying to IG DMs, and calling clients. I prefer to be intimately involved in a task. Most of my inefficiencies arise from switching too often and not making enough progress before the switch. The switch normally comes from a distraction in another project or social media. In the age of distraction, I am forced to take extra precaution as to not spend 2 hours looking up every single person from my high school on facebook to see if they have kids or not.
This experiment started when I wasn't feeling accomplished. I wasn't happy with the quantity or quality of work I was completing in my days. I felt switching costs were killing my productive hours. Listening to Gary Vaynerchuk on my ride home, I decided to audit my time. I wanted to utilize every minute of my day to my advantage.
I started using it on August 1 and created 4 categories: work, maintenance, play, travel.
Work - Anything related to Fruit Movement
Maintenance - This is not recreational time. These are the things I need to do in order to live or more importantly work better. Sleep, eat, stretch, work out, etc.
Play - This is recreational time. Mine is usually spent playing chess or whatever else occupies my attention.
Travel - I like to log how much of my day is spent driving or traveling in between places. I was surprised by how much time travel takes up and have taken measures to mitigate this.
The practice of logging your time can be a strong wake-up call. I've logged my work time for years as a consultant so it wasn't a new activity. The software Timeular (ZEI software) is very intuitive to use and works quite well. Normally, I leave the physical product at my desk and run the software off my phone.
I find that the ZEI / Timeular doesn't interfere with my focus. In fact, when I activate an activity to start recording, it feels like a ticking timebomb that keeps my focus glued to the task I activated. Anytime that my mind begins to wander, it snaps back to my task (it also helps to have the little dice icon on your phone to remind you that you're on the clock).
You may wonder why bother with ZEI. It seems expensive for something you can use a pen and paper for. ZEI runs in the background and does not get in the way with attaining deep work (check out this awesome episode of NPR's Hidden Brain if you want to learn how to achieve a better state of focus). However, ZEI pops up on your radar when you reach for your phone or try to engage in distractions. It plays a good balance of being present but not distracting.
I recommend the software for anyone who finds themselves trying to squeeze out extra time in the day. It should be nearly mandatory for any hourly professional: attorneys, consultants, accountants, etc. I found that when that timer was activated, I was 100% engaged on my task and best of all I never had to write down start / stop times in a journal again.