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Dandy Cast 037: Tracking time to reach MAXIMUM productivity!

Sean Anderson
Sean Anderson

This podcast episode was recorded as an accompanying audio version of the Dandy Newsletter that was published on August 11, 2020.

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Show notes

I’ve been late to the game on many things and I’ve always kicked myself for not getting into them sooner. Writing blog posts for Dandy Cat Design, beans, tracking my time. They’ve all been great additions to my life, but boy did I drag my feet to get going with them. I’ve always had a talent for procrastination.

But I shall procrastinate no more on them, especially the tracking my time bit. Not only do I have a better idea of where my time is being spent, but I also feel more productive than I ever have. In fact, I’m tracking the time it’s taking me to write these here show notes. The system is working!

There’s also a brand spankin’ new blog post waiting for you. It’s called, Quick Tip: How To Use Your iPad as a Second Monitor.

Did you know you don’t have to kill your wallet to get yourself a larger canvas for your computer? You can use the iPad you may already have as a second monitor for your Mac! It’s an amazing, built-in tool that I use every single week. Follow the link to this week’s blog post to learn how to extend your desktop with an iPad today.

We’re wrapping things up with what I’m watching, reading, and listening to this week. It’s a great assortment of media that’s worth your time.

Links to stuff that was mentioned:

Myke Hurley - Relay FM

CGP Grey

Cortex - Relay FM

The Theme System



More Movies Please! - Libsyn

Quick Tip: How To Use Your iPad as a Second Monitor - Dandy Cat Design

Big Shoes to Phil | Connected Pro - Relay FM

Veronica Mars - IMDb

Hearts Beat Loud soundtrack - YouTube

The Cat Who Could Read Backwards - Goodreads

The full text

The Dandy Newsletter — 08/11/20

There are many things that took me a long time to get into. Here are a few:

  • Writing blog posts for Dandy Cat Design.
  • Enjoying cross breezes instead of just blasting the air conditioner all the time.
  • Beans. I’ve got several food allergies and I was convinced this was one of them until around five years ago.
  • Thai food (probably because of that food allergy thing).
  • Tracking my time.

I certainly have excuses for being so late to the game on all of those, but I don’t know that they’re good excuses. For instance, I resisted writing blog posts for a few months because I was sure it would be a distraction. At the outset of Dandy Cat Design, I thought I shouldn’t need to write blog posts. I’ve just got to be online. The people will flock to me because I’ve got a neat website. This running an online business thing doesn’t have to be as hard as people say it is. This is easy!

Narrator: “It wasn’t.”

It’s beyond obvious to me now that running an online business is not only a damn difficult thing to do, it also requires a lot more than just writing blog posts to be successful. It’s why I’ve got an email list going (as always, thank you for signing up), why I’m investing a heck of a lot of time into social media, and why I’m working on a podcast. It may seem like the most successful online business people got to where they are by driving down Easy Street, but believe me, that is not the case. Every single one of them would be able to regale you with tough stories about the “before times” when they weren’t sure they’d be able to pay rent or eat well. I can guarantee that.

(By the way, the Dandy Cast podcast will be debuting next week. I’m pretty thrilled. I’ll be talking a lot more about it next time.)

The point is, I’ve been late to the game on many things. Things that have ended up being not only enjoyable, but also valuable. They’ve opened up new doors for me, either for my business or something as simple as enjoying a black bean burger.

My latest smack-myself-on-the-head-for-not-starting-it-earlier thing in life is tracking my time. Time tracking. Not the most novel concept in the world, but it’s been transformative for me.

First, I’ve got to thank Myke Hurley, CGP Grey, and their Cortex podcast for this one. Along with their Theme System, they’ve now given me two crazy meaningful activities for me to participate in. They’re the gifts that keep on giving.

They’ve espoused the benefits of time tracking for a long time, but as mentioned at the start of this newsletter, it took me a while, and a couple abortive starts, for time tracking to stick for me. Now that it has, I want to track everything!

Time tracking is, as the name suggests, the act of recording how long you do something. It could be a completely analog practice, but I’ve found it to be easier and more enjoyable to use digital tools. I know, big surprise. I use a service called Toggl and an app called Timery to accomplish this. Why two separate things? Well, put simply, Toggl’s app stinks. It’s not a pleasure to use. Timery, on the other hand, is a joy.

Screenshot of the Timery iPad app with tracked time entries.

Simple. Elegant. Useful. Three qualities that I love to see in an app. There are many other tools you can use to track your time, but I’ve found these to be among the best. At the moment, I see no need to stop using them.

So what am I getting out of tracking my time? How could this be useful for you, my dear, devoted reader? I believe that tracking my time has given me one of the most valuable things in the world: knowledge.

Before I started tracking—at the moment I’m just recording my working time—I couldn’t tell you how long I spend writing the Dandy Newsletter every week. Or how long I spend on Pinterest. Or how much time I sink into recording podcast episodes. Even if I tried hazarding a guess, I can guarantee you I’d be wrong. So wrong that I’d be okay with being laughed out of a room. My guess for newsletter writing would be either, forty-five minutes, two hours, or seven weeks. Who knows?

Since tracking my time, I can tell you with certainty that it takes me around two hours to write the Dandy Newsletter. It takes me about the same amount of time to write a new blog post. It takes me between two and a half to three hours to record an episode of More Movies Please! I spent nearly two and a half hours working on Pinterest stuff last Tuesday.

Not only do I know the times for individual tasks, but I also know how long my work days tend to be. I try to sit down at my desk from around 10:00 to 6:00 each day, but how much of that time is spent doing real work? Now I know that it’s anywhere between three to seven hours, depending on the day.

I have knowledge, glorious knowledge, that didn’t exist before I started tracking my time. In many ways, I’ve felt empowered since I’ve acquired that knowledge. I know how much time I’m wasting instead of being more productive. I can plan my days better now that I know what I can spare for other activities. I can stop stressing over the erroneous feeling that I don’t have enough time during the day. Clearly I do—I can see it in my daily totals.

That’s a wonderful feeling, especially that last one. We all think we don’t have enough time during the day. When you start tracking your time, you’ve got cold, hard numbers telling you that’s nonsense. You do have enough time. It’s just being spent elsewhere.

I love knowing where my hours are going. It’s great to get weekly (and soon to be annual) reports on where my time has gone. I have invaluable information.

I encourage you to give Toggl and Timery (or any other time tracking service) a try. Not only will you probably end up being surprised at where your time goes, I’m sure you’ll also feel better having that knowledge.

Time tracking is a phenomenal productivity tool.

More space than you know what to do with!

There’s a new blog post waiting for you. Hip-hip-hooray! 🎉

It’s called: Quick Tip: How To Use Your iPad as a Second Monitor.

With the release of iPadOS 14 and macOS Catalina, came a wonderful new utility. It’s one I use every single week. With those releases, I can now turn the expansive display on my iPad Pro into an additional, interactive monitor for my Mac.

I swear, sometimes it really feels like we’re living in the future that so many movies predicted. All we’re missing are the flying cars.

I find this utility especially useful if you’re working with a smaller screen. Laptop lovers of the world, rejoice! With a few simple mouse clicks, you can double your screen real estate. Stop cramming loads of apps into a single screen. Throw your calendar onto your iPad. Send another browser window over there. Keep your music going without having to shrink anything down.

Can you believe such a handy tool can be yours to enjoy right this very moment and for the low, low price of completely free? Seriously, no fooling. Click through the link above right now to learn how to give yourself a huge canvas for your computer. Happy reading!

If you ever want to throw some suggestions my way, then send me a reply to this email. They’re always wonderful to receive.

Seriously friend, I'd love to hear from you.

Until next time cats, stay informed, stay safe, and stand up for what’s right. Black lives matter and wear a dang mask.


Sean Anderson

Lover of productivity tips, Apple devices, and vegan ice cream. Mostly, I'm busy petting cats 🐱 and dogs 🐶

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