Narrative pic of me going through a tunnel, 09.02.2016
January has come and gone and it has left me with 400 events, about 13 events per day. The list of events looks rather haphazard though and I wondered the other day what I could learn from it. If I graph all the events I had per day in January I get Figure 1. It tells me that my busiest day was January 26th (when I listened to a series of seminars at work, wrote down a lot and then had a rather long meeting in the afternoon, that day took up 25 pages and had 41 events) and my least busy day was Sunday January 3rd, two pages and 4 events (two of those pages were notes about Micheal Pollan’s latest documentary about food, (quite interesting).
Separating family life and work
I write down almost everything in my log books, both personal stuff (e.g., thoughts, things done with the family), as well as work notes. I decided to analyse both of those separately, see what happened. I had a total of 210 events related to personal events and 192 for work. I guess the balance is a bit more towards personal stuff, which may be good, but may be biased due to my 1 week vacation at the beginning of the month.
Then I went through and tried to categorise each event within personal or work events, grouping things that I thought were similar. For example, the most frequent events for personal were doing stuff with the kids (n=48 events, 30% of all personal events), doing qs stuff (24), watching videos (21), reading (21), planning what to eat (19) and writing (13). Regarding work, the events were mostly short (5-15 min) interactions with people at work (63 events, 40% of all work events), planning the day or week (28), reading or attending theses (21), working on projects (20), going to conferences (16) and going to other meetings (11).
So, I found out that the most frequent events that I log, both personally and at work, have to do with people! I’m a bit surprised by that, the total amount, but it seems understandable. The second most frequent events (both personal and work) have more to do with my life on paper, quantifying things or planning. The third most frequent have to do with getting new info, via videos or reading, which kind of overlaps with reviewing theses and projects for work. This January was a bit different for theses, since I was on 4 thesis committees, which is quite odd and due to some special circumstances here in Spain.
Apart from the details of what I was up to, I tried another exercise which I’ve tried before but not really systematized. I scan all the events or keywords in a month and simply highlight the ones that I feel (now) are more interesting. Of all of those events, I found I could categorize them into four areas. In decreasing order, 14 were related to me writing down different thougths, 12 were “special” interactions with people, 10 were related to notes taken down while watching videos and nine were related to reading a book or article.
For thoughts, four were related to writing about moods or ideas, five planning new things to try out and two specific problems at work. For the people part, most were meetings at work and three special events with friends and family. I guess they stood out since they were significant in some way, had a nice feeling afterward. For videos, one was a course, three were documentaries, three youtube talks, and two music videos. For reading, three were reading a good magazine article, two scientific papers and three books.
So, a posteriori, I’m quite interested in what I was thinking in the past and what I watched or read, as well as who I had a good time with. But those four things combined (14+12+10+9) equal 45 events, or 11% of all the events in January. How much of that will I end up using for something else in the future? Probably I will go back and write down or analyse in some way about 2 or 3 of those events, in the future. So about 0.5%. Something to think about.