Thursday, October 5, 2017

Tracking My Reading

I like to track things.  I use an app to track my running (MapMyRun).  I use an app to track my water consumption (My Water).  I have a multitude of spreadsheets to track everything from who I've sent Christmas cards to each year, who we have received Christmas cards from, ingredients (and quantities) needed for all the Christmas treats I bake, and Christmas gifts purchased for each of the last 10 years, broken down by recipient.  And that's just my Christmas spreadsheets.

I like tracking things.  (I've already written a post about tracking my leisure time.)

It should come as no surprise then that I also, obsessively, track my reading.  And not just my own reading but also the books my husband reads and what we read to our son.  (The former isn't much work because he might read a couple books a year.  The latter, I've got titles for 700+ books we've read him in the last 4 years).

I like knowing what I've read, when I read it, how many times, and what I thought of it.  (The fact that this is incomplete data since I've only been doing this, obsessively, for ~6 years does bug me a little.  I know I've read Harry Potter and the Christy Miller series waaaaaaay more times than I have tracked.)

My primary way to track reading has been through the Goodreads app and website (my profile).  I keep my "TBR" list there, shelves for each year, regularly update what I am currently reading, and try to rate and review every. single. book. (My own reads at least get reviews, Luke's are usually just a star rating but that's enough for me to figure out which ones are worth rereading.)

This isn't completely new.  Back in grade or middle school my Mom got me a notebook to start writing down everything I read, organized alphabetically by author or book title (I did both, obviously not as organized at 10 as I am now.)  I still have that notebook and can flip through it to see what I read as a kid.  Or at least some of what I read, when I felt like writing it down (which was a decent amount of the time). 

I know in the grand scheme of things that knowing how many books I've read in a year has very little importance.  But I still like knowing it.  Knowing how I used my reading time, proof that I do have free time.  Proof that at what I can do when I use my time well. (And I definitely consider reading time well spent.  Generally.  With a few exceptions for the books I should have given up on instead of finishing.)

Besides that, this year I also started tracking what I've read in a One Line a Day five year journal.  (Specifically this one).  I didn't start using until mid-May but since then I've recorded what books I've read each day, if I finished them, if they were electronic or paper (paper being the default).  I am pretty excited to look back in a few years and be able to see what books I've read on specific days, like June 12th or September 28th.  I'll KNOW that. 

I write in this journal almost daily, taking it to the lake and on vacation so I wouldn't get behind (because I would hate to have to guess.  I really would hate that.)

But that's not all I use this little book for.  I started noting what movies or tv shows I watched, either on my own, with Matt, or with Matt and Luke.  And which tv season (i.e. The Office season 7 that we are currently rewatching.)  Then I added little notes for days we were at the lake and when we were on vacation.  Then I added in how many miles I was running each day (which I still need to go back and fill in for most of the year, that's the newest component).

Basically, a large portion of my free/leisure time is tracked in 5 lines a day.  It doesn't give a whole picture of my day but it does show a small part of it.  Maybe by the time the 5 years is up I will have trained for another half-marathon (even though just the idea makes me cringe right now).  Or maybe next year I'll just look back fondly on my 10+ miles runs and be glad I'm only doing 6.

There's a reason people like that TimeHop app or the "look back at your memories" thing that Facebook does.  We like knowing what we did a year ago, 3 years ago, seeing how different life is in that time.  What we were doing back then.   Reminded of happy memories or being grateful that a tough time is past.  This is similar and I know I'll be delighted to look back in a year and see how life is different. 

Maybe it's just the "I really like spreadsheets" part of my brain that all this tracking appeals to but I do get a strange satisfaction out of knowing all this quantities and where my time goes.  It takes only a few minutes a day but at the end of the week, month, year, it gives me a decent picture at what I do and how much.  It helps me at least feel like I am using my time well, when I know where (some of) it went.

What apps/books/methods do you use to track time/hobbies/etc?  Heaven knows I would always use another (it almost makes me a little panic-y to think there is something I'm not tracking!)!

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