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Timekeeping 101

The quickest, easiest and mostly sustainable way to keep time while studying

For my initial two attempts in UPSC time keeping was by a mental calculation of how many hours I think I studied, including class hours for a coaching or writing a mock test. This used to be a ballpark figure which in my head varied from 8 - 13 hours. I never knew how much was I actually studying, productively.

Inspiration comes from random sources and I heard a podcast about noting your time of work done physically. This was a game changer.

The Process

  1. Take a small diary / flash cards

  2. Start a new page everyday

  3. Write the time you start studying / work

  4. Write the time you stop. Exact time. Everytime. Even if it is for a short tea / bio break (you’ll learn to account for this eventually in bulk, but do it rigorously for sometime)

  5. Calculate the total time at the end of day

  6. Repeat daily

  7. Try to maintain number of hours studied/worked in upcoming days (make a Seinfeld Chain)


  1. The tangible physicality of the process gives the sense of achievement

  2. Seeing number of hours either maintained each day or increasing each day is a source of deep intrinsic motivation. Better than most motivational videos online.

  3. Gives the actual work/study hours

  4. Efficiency can be tracked = {Time noted / Time sat for study} x 100

  5. Cut down wastage and create time for leisure, play and fun

  6. Flipping through pages after a month or so is an instant pride and ego boost


  1. Do not lose your flipbook/ notepad. It hurts.

  2. Don’t use the note maker on your phone or an App. There’s magical power in touch, feel and tangibility.

  3. Don’t fret if you lose out on maintaining the record for a day. You could be busy, writing a mock test, forgetful or just lazy. Let it be, do it the next day onwards

  4. Focus is on chunks of study, deep study. Don’t make noting the time the focus of your study/work

  5. May not work for everyone. We’re working on utilitarianism principle

  6. Be honest. Do not inflate time to look good on paper. This is not Instagram, you’re not an Instagram Influenza, we are not aiming for likes


Last leg before Mains 2020

Flippin for pride

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