I have no concept of time. I’m just really, really bad at estimating how long ago things happened. For instance, I would have happily confirmed that eBay Marketing Makeover came out last year and that Sell Their Stuff was released the year before that. But eBay Marketing Makeover was only released on June 1st of THIS YEAR, a mere three months ago, while Sell Their Stuff came out November 1st of 2014 which means it hasn’t even been out for a full year yet. So I was off my 9 months on eMM and over a year on STS. That’s pretty bad.

It’s happened many times before when I lose or gain weeks at a time. It’s been like this my entire life but the blur of parenting and the lack of sleep have made it that much worse. I have a warped sense of where I am right now in the big picture of my life.

Facebook’s added a feature recently (which is itself largely a ripoff of the popular Timehop app) where it shows you everything you posted on that day 1 year ago, 2 years ago, etc. I started using it because I loved seeing how my daughter was growing and changing over the years but I realized it actually has a second purpose. Namely, it reminds me, every day, how bad I am at estimating time and grounds me in the real timeline.

What I’ve realized is that, when it comes to bad things, such as a setback, I tend to underestimate how long ago it happened and think it happened more recently than it really did. But when it came to good things, such as the publication of my books discussed above, I always overestimate how long ago they were. The net result of this was that I was feeling like a big loser whose failures were all recent and whose triumphs were all so far away when, really, my perspective was completely warped and it was much more balanced.

This eye-opening revelation made me realize that I really need to start keeping better records of everything, setbacks and successes included. I needed to start keeping track of not only big things, like book release dates (which I don’t keep a list of anywhere right now), but also small things, such as when I started a given project, completed a draft or took on a Selling Assistant client. Exact freaking dates. I need to be able to access these dates as hard data to have a clear idea of where I am instead of relying on my warped, sleep deprived brain.

The hardest part so far is getting into the habit of writing them down. I finish something date worthy, decided to take a break because, surely, I’ll remember to log it later and… never do. Senility is so far the biggest hurdle and I’m wondering if simply setting myself a weekly reminder to write down any important dates that happened in the last week would help.

After remember to collect the data, I need a way to view it usefully. I started a simple spreadsheet but it’s not enough. I really need something that lets me input dates and tag them with multiple categories or keywords so that I can both view all and only view the ones that fit certain perimeters. I also need some kind of timeline view so that I can visually see how the dates relate both altogether and across types of dates. I’d also like to be able to view all the events that happened on a single date from year to year to give myself a work related version of Facebook’s look back. And I’d like to be able to view both the time between two events (such as between starting a first draft and publishing the final draft) as well as the age of any date at a glance.

I need a way to sort, organize and view a large number of dates. I’ve tried a variety of programs and I haven’t found anything that fits my needs. I’m turning to you in the hope someone will have something to recommend, even if it’s just a really complicated spreadsheet that does more than my simple one did. I’m happy to pay for an app or software if it does what I need because I think this could be a real game changer for not only helping me work more efficiently but for also keep my insecurities at bay with cold hard facts.

How do you keep track of the milestone events in your business so that you can access and learn from them later?

Photo by neil cummings