Need More Time? Guide And Spreadsheet To Have A 48-Hour Day


(By the way, I hand-drew the rabbit myself and digitized it with an iPhone!)

It is kind of shocking and hilarious, but really tragic that we all think we know exactly where our time goes. But when you measure it, you’re not just slightly wrong, you’re like totally upside down. — Drew Houston (Co-founder of Dropbox).

Since nearly a week ago, my life has been filled with lots of new responsibilities, so most of my time has been taken up.

I tried to find a solution to keep track of how I spend my time to make sure that I’ve distributed it on the things that I do care about, like schoolwork, internship, this blog, and my friends.

I’ll explain the following:

  1. The Fallacy Of Being Too Busy
  2. I Need More Time, But How Can I Make A 48-hour day?
  3. Make A 48-Hour Day: In Terms Of Work
  4. Make A 48-Hour Day: In Terms Of Time
  5. Introducing the Where-The-Hell-Is-My-Time Spreadsheet
  6. Final Thoughts
  7. TL;DR? Here Is The Takeaway
*Note: If you are only interested in the spreadsheet, you can get it here first and jump to part 5 for its instruction.

The Fallacy Of Being Too Busy

We have used the excuse of being too busy in an excessive way. You can be busy, but you can’t be too busy. We spend time on the things that we care about.

Busy is a decision. When we use “being too busy” as a reason for not doing something, it implies that the “something” is not important enough, not urgent, and not as our priority.

To give an example, if your boss asks you to give out a report by tomorrow morning, will you be too busy to do it? Nope. Otherwise, by the time tomorrow comes, there probably will be no jobs for you to be too busy with. Even if you have lots of work at hand, you will still cram this task into your to-do list, no matter what.

When you realize that you start using this as an excuse to push away your responsibilities, you should reorganize your priorities.

I Need More Time, But How Can I Make A 48-hour day?

The answer is not that difficult when we all know there will only be 24 hours in a day. Making it into 48 hours is just another saying of doubling your output. When we determine whether we are productive, we don’t measure how much time we spend on a task. Instead, it is how much meaningful work we have produced.

So the main points are what are you working on and how do you spend your time.

In Terms Of Work

Busyness as Proxy for Productivity: In the absence of clear indicators of what it means to be productive and valuable in their jobs, many knowledge workers turn back toward an industrial indicator of productivity: doing lots of stuff in a visible manner — Cal Newport (see Deep Work)

1. Busy vs. Productive

Am I being productive or just being busy?” This is one of the questions I ask myself a lot. I even ask myself this when I consume new information.

Imagine these, 1) doing intensive and meaningful work for 3 whole hours with full concentration vs. 2) doing work in the same amount of time with the same level of focus, but on easy and unimportant tasks. Who is more productive?

Visually, they are probably all really dedicated to their jobs. But when comparing the outcome of their work, there is no doubt that the first situation will produce a more useful output. Its work can move the needle.

You can spend hours and hours on trivial things while fooling yourself that you’re being productive, but you will never have the productive outcome you envisioned. It’s similar to knowing your priorities — knowing what are the important tasks.

2. The Power Of Saying “No”

Another point of having a 48-hour day is knowing when to say “no”. We tend to make the effort to please as many people as possible, and it leads to putting more and more responsibilities and stress on ourselves. Sometimes it is redundant.

Don’t be guilty of rejecting people. You need to decide what is your priority and what is necessary. I’m not saying to turn people down whenever they ask you for help. But you should analyze your ability before accepting the request.

As Ray Dalio puts it:

All of your “must-do” must be above the bar before you do your “like-to-dos” (See Principles).

In Terms Of Time

If you are already putting full concentration on doing meaningful work, investing more time on it will, as well, produce more outcomes. So now we just need to “find” more time.

1. Create Your Time

When you need more time, you should find it yourself. Surely, we can’t magically create another 24 hours in a day, but we can wake up earlier than we usually do. But I’m not telling you to cut your sleeping time, you still need sufficient sleep.

By waking up 1 hour earlier than you usually do every day, it will create 5-7 extra hours per week, which is nearly equal to how much time you have in ~ 0.5-1 working day.

For most people, they wake up when they have the obligation to do so. If it is during weekends, they will just lay in bed ALAP (as late as possible). If you have a hard time leaving your bed, I have a step-by-step post about how to wake up early (with a free spreadsheet to help).

However, it’s not the same as staying up late to do your job. Waking up earlier in the morning will give you a sense of satisfaction. It creates a feeling that you have control over your life. On the other hand, staying up late will worsen your performance and affect your emotions.

2. Have Daily Plans

When you have the chance to decide what to do, you start procrastinating. You will be like “Hmm what about this? Oh, wait! Maybe this will be more important. Ah! But this is more fun.” While having a plan in advance, you eliminate your time to make decisions.

By tracking your daily plans, it can also be your reference points of whether you are doing meaningful work or not, and then to further analyze what jobs need to be done.

3. Be Aware Of Your Leisure Time

How do you spend your inconsistent leisure time? When our entertainment is just one click away on our phones, we tend to spend our fragmented time on our screens. By being mindful of this, you should check and monitor your screen time.


If you are using an iPhone, you can see the record in setting > screen time. It’s a powerful tool to monitor your phone-using behaviors. It keeps the record in daily and weekly forms. You can even check how much time each application has been used.

Introducing the Where-The-Hell-Is-My-Time Spreadsheet

This spreadsheet is helping you to answer a simple question, which is also stated in its name:

“I feel like I need more time to do or finish the things I want. Where the hell is my time?”

To my experiences, often we feel this way because we unconsciously contribute our time to trivial things. They are too trivial that you don’t consider them as harmful. But the accumulated amount of them is significant.

Where-the-hell-is-my-time spreadsheet helps you track your time usage. It’s the same as how an iPhone tracks your screen time, but this extends it to a daily-life scale. And I suggest you check it 2 times a day for logging.

1. How To Use It


You first input the starting date in the column, by either typing or selecting it from the calendar.


And then you jump to the “Week 1” sheet to start logging the type of activities you have done within each hour. Keep doing it for each day. It’s a no brainer.

I have preset the daily activities into 6 categories:

  1. Sleep: sleeping time (even afternoon naps)
  2. Work: time spent on work or in office
  3. School: time spent on schoolwork or in school
  4. Entertainment: Activities that are done for joys instead of improvements, such as watching Netflix, scrolling through social media, etc.
  5. Productivity: Activities that help you improve, but are not work-/school-related, such as reading, working out.
  6. Others: Activities that are neutral, not for joys nor improvement. Such as having meals, doing chores or groceries.

But the true definition can be adjusted by yourself. Let’s take “hanging out with friends” as an example:

  • If hanging out with friends means improving social skills to you, then you can categorize it into “Productivity”.
  • In contrast, if you hang out with friends based on pure enjoyment, then you should sort it as “Entertainment”.
  • If it means neither to you, put them into “Others” and view it as a neutral activity.

2. How To Review It

Apart from doing the logs, reviewing is where you should pay the majority of your attention to. It shows you how much time you distribute to each activity. You should adjust how you spend your time based on the chart.

This is what you will end up with:


The upper 2 charts are for the monthly overview, while the 4 charts below show the stats from Week 1 to 4 respectively.

*Note: The colors of each category is corresponded throughout the whole spreadsheet, from daily logs to charts.


When you hover over each color segment of whichever chart, the actual hours you spent on the activity will pop out.

These charts are a visual way to enhance your awareness. Without reviewing the charts, there is a big chance that you will neglect how time has been distributed throughout your daily life.

From the example above, you might never consciously notice that on Week 3, the time you spend on entertainment is nearly equal to your sleeping time.

The result could be shocking since you have never taken a look into your day like this. But it’s a good shock: It means that you’re aware now and you should adjust your lifestyle.

Final Thoughts

Imagine you squeeze 1 extra hour out in the morning, and reduce your after-work entertainment time, like on Netflix or Instagram, for some reading, working out, etc. You basically have “another day in a day”.

You surely can have 48 hours in a day by doing meaningful work and spending more time on it. But you still need to assess where is the work-leisure balance. Otherwise, excessively working will lead to diminishing returns, and having low-quality results.

Build your Where-the-hell-is-my-time spreadsheet now and have fun!

TL;DR? Here Is The Takeaway

  • You are not too busy; you just need to set priorities
  • Make A 48-Hour Day: In Terms Of Work
    1. Be productive, not busy
    2. Know when to say “no”
  • Make A 48-Hour Day: In Terms Of Time
    1. Wake up an hour earlier than usual
    2. Have daily plans
    3. Spend your fragmented time wisely
  • Introducing the Where-The-Hell-Is-My-Time Spreadsheet
    1. Do the logs
    2. Review the charts
    3. Adjust your lifestyle