5 insights from tracking every second of my life during 2022

I tracked every second of my life during 2022, and it unlocked personal insights impossible to discover otherwise.

To accomplish this feat, I configured a few high-level categories of activities in a nice, free time-tracking app and pressed the corresponding button every time I switched to a different activity. Over the whole year I logged 5,218 different activities, an average of 14 per day.

While tracking my time like this immediately helped me use my time more efficiently (I did not want to press the “wasted time” button), the most significant insights discussed below followed a review of the aggregate data for the whole year.

Insight #1: Developing expertise takes time

The average worker in the United States clocked 1,791 hours on the job in 2021 – 34.4 hours per week – according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an international policy research organization. That statistic was one key metric cited by a columnist who declared the United States “the most overworked developed nation in the world”.

By comparison, in 2022, I clocked 2308 hours and 26 minutes on “work activities” – 44.4 hours per week – which is 28.8% more hours than the average, overworked United States employee. Since I am a full-time student, these “work activities” include time spent in lectures and completing homework in addition to my traditional part-time employment as a software engineer.

Receiving my diploma for a Bachelors of Science in Software Engineering at the convocation ceremony for Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University in May 2022.

Fortunately, I accomplished a lot with those thousands of hours of work:

  • Completed an Honors Thesis where I invented a sound-based protocol for converting normal Rubik’s Cubes into “smartcubes”. That undergraduate research has already won a finalist position in the graduate level at the 2023 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a prestigious national conference.
  • Graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Software Engineering, including recognition as the Outstanding Graduate in Software Engineering (one recipient per semester) and an Outstanding Senior at the Barrett Polytechnic Campus (two recipients per semester, one male, one female).
  • Designed and implemented data pipelines at work which generated over $700,000 in revenue in 2022, a 22% increase over 2021.
  • Released multiple open-source tools which together collected over 200 stars on GitHub.
  • Contributed bug-fixes and new features to multiple open-source libraries [1] [2] which are downloaded tens of millions of times per month [1] [2].

The lesson here? Developing expertise takes time, which I hope serves as a reassurance to new and hopeful software engineers. You can do it! Continue putting in the time to refine your knowledge and your expertise will grow accordingly.

Insight #2: Work hard, but remember to relax

As much as I worked hard in 2022, I also played hard. In 2022 I spent over 1400 hours on fun activities with family, friends, dates with my wife, and enjoying personal hobbies – an average of over 27 hours per week.

Notably, these activities were primarily concentrated during the breaks from school, with those four months seeing almost as much time on activities as the other 8 months of the year when I was completing coursework.

Time of YearHours of Activities% of Total
School Semesters (8 months)
(January-April, August-November)
750.6 hours53.6%
School Breaks (4 months)
(May-July, December)
648.7 hours46.4%

The lesson here? Relaxing is valuable, but in the right time and place.

Insight #3: Success does not require sacrificing sleep

As a busy college student in 2022 – juggling a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, part-time work, volunteer responsibilities, and family needs – I expected to see poor results on my sleep statistics.

In actuality, I slept for 2924 hours 22 minutes, which is 8.01 hours per night. Furthermore, I consistently slept well throughout the year instead of “catching up” during breaks like I did for activities. I also spent an additional 341 hours on other basic needs like meals, hygiene, and exercise.

The average number of hours I slept each night in 2022, plotted on a week by week basis.

The lesson here? Success does not require sacrificing a good night’s sleep.

Insight #4: Serving in the community is invigorating

During 2022 I had the privilege of volunteering in multiple capacities:

  • At Barrett, The Honors College I served as a peer mentor for incoming first-year students to help them learn the ropes of college and connect them to campus resources.
  • In the Arizona Saints Chorale, a community choir which raised thousands of dollars for local charities, I sang vocal bass.
  • At The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I served my neighbors in various religious and personal capacities.

Singing in the Arizona Saints Chorale. I am in the bass section, standing in the top right corner wearing a green tie.

In total, I spent 244 hours and 50 minutes on various forms of community service during 2022 – 4.7 hours per week.

The lesson here? Remember to give back to your community

Insight #5: Use travel to enable meaningful interactions

In 2022 I traveled a lot. While not the largest block of time by duration, 25% of all time entries during 2022 were tagged as “Travel” for a total of 353 hours and 11 minutes. To merit a “Travel” tag, a time slot had to meet the following criteria:

  1. The time was spent in/on/waiting for a moving vehicle.
    • e.g. cars, trains, flights, buses, bikes, electric scooters, etc.
  2. The time was not spent completing homework or working on other tasks.
    • Such time blocks were instead tagged with their corresponding activity.

As a result of these rules, my “Travel” time truly represents time lost in the process of moving from place to place.

Some of this travel was exciting (e.g. driving to family dinners), while other travel was less so (e.g. commuting to a largely empty office). Either way, over one full day of time each month – 29.4 hours to be exact – was lost to the need to physically transport myself from one location to another.

These travel time numbers prompt several deep questions:

  • What would I do with a full extra day of time each month?
  • Reducing travel time generally means increasing virtual interactions. To what extent is that a desireable trade?

Some analysts [1] [2] answer the first question by discussing ‘opportunity cost’, specifically the amount of money one could make by working instead of commuting. For me, that is likely a poor answer since I already worked so much in 2022.

Rather, I think it is more valuable to focus on the second question. Fostering meaningful relationship with friends, family, or coworkers often requires spending time together in-person. Traveling thus becomes a pre-requisite for many aspects of human friendship.

The lesson here? The best travel time enables meaningful interactions.


A wise leader I greatly respect once observed the following:

When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported, the rate of improvement accelerates.

Thomas S. Monson

By measuring every second of 2022 I have significantly improved my ability to understand my actual priorities and reason meaningfully about needed changes to achieve my desired goals. As I continue this daily reflection throughout 2023, I hope to gain even greater insights!

This post is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by the author.