It started with this tweet:
Each day, I end up doing lots of fragmented #chess study using various apps. Usually 5-10 minute chunks throughout the day. I am trying to understand where I spend my time, and I think it looks like this. #chesspunks pic.twitter.com/fFKfUb1kTj— Matt (@MattPlaysChess) August 26, 2021
I knew I did a little bit here and there, but I really wasn’t sure where I spent time chess time. I knew I had some time in the early morning, maybe do a puzzle or two when I have a break at work, or play a couple games in the evening, but how much?
I took advice of a fellow twitter #chesspunk and downloaded ATracker. My goal was to keep track of all my chess-related activites. I thought I should do a full week so I could look at an average. Before I started any game/puzzle/etc. I would open the app and start the timer. The app then kept track for the week.
What to Count?
I was not sure if I should count things like listening to chess podcasts or watching YouTube videos. They are very enjoyable, but are they studying? I decided to count all my chess-related activities, not specifically studying.
Caveat… It Was a Bad Sample Week
I was excited to start this project, so I started right away. However, there were some issues with this specific week. First, I got another dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. Since I had a sick day from work afterward, I tried (unsuccessfully) to do more chess. That increased my average time.
Another outlier was with my kids this week. They spent a couple days with their grandparents which gave me a bit more time to spend on chess. I also had an afternoon where I went to pick them up and I listend to 3 hours of chess podcasts in the car. I also had an extra hour while I waited to pick them up, where I was doing chess. I did more in this one day than I usually do in two.
I almost gave up the project, but decided to keep track anyway. I decided that no week is “typical” when it comes to studying chess. It will always go up and down. I will probably try this experiment again this fall/winter to see how it changed.
With all that out of the way, here are some actual numbers.
- Total time (1 week): 24 hours, 36 minutes
- Average Per Day: 3 hours, 31 minutes
As I said above, I believe this was higher than a normal week. But, even if I adjust the time, it was still over two hours per day. This surprised by when I first saw the numbers, but thinking about the time I spend it makes sense. It also aligns roughly with how much time I thought I spent before I started this project. I just never sit for two hours studying chess.
The main thing I wanted to know was which “categories” of chess was I spending most of my time on.
I spent the most time on tactics, which is what I was hoping for. I spent a little over an hour a day studying tactics, which was about 30% of my time. This was done across multiple tools including Aimchess, Chess.com puzzles and puzzle rush, working through the Chess Steps books, and a little with a Chessable book.
As I said above, the “listening” cateogry, which included podcasts, YouTube, and watching Chessable videos, was abnormally high because of the extra time I spent in the car this week. It was probably double what it would be on a “typical” week.
The area I stuggle the most with lately is how much to spend on games. This week it was 20% of my time, but should it be more? I feel like it should be more.
I also thought it was interesting to see which platforms/tools I used the most.
Chess.com is top, so I guess it is good I pay money for that. Or do I spend more time there because I pay money for it? I use that mostly for playing games and doing tactics puzzles. But I also used it this week for some lessons about endgames, and doing some endgame training, which they have a good tool for.
The “Streaming” cateogry is for all the podcasts and YouTube I consumed this week. I was not sure if I should include this, as it is not really “study”, but it is chess-related.
The “books” was a combination of reading and stuyding annotated games and doing the Chess Steps workbooks. I was not sure if the annotated game study should be in this category, but I did not have anywhere else to categorize it.
Aimchess was pretty new to me this week, and I tried to do all of their daily studies. It is a new toy, but I like the variety of “lessons” they have.
I usually do not have big blocks of time to devote to chess study. A few morning a week I am able to get up early to spend time on chess, and then after my kids go to bed I usually have time. Other than that, it is a puzzle here, a podcast there, and just a bunch of fragmented work. However, those fragements really do add up.