Well, Look At The Time!

images-3As I mentioned last week, I’ve been tracking my time as part of a “time makeover” with Laura Vanderkam, author of 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think. From Wednesday, January 30 through Tuesday, February 5, I used a Excel spreadsheet to track my time to the nearest 15-minute increment. Here are the reflections I shared with Laura.

My initial thought is that I need to do a better job of regulating my sleep schedule. No one in our family is a morning person. Left on our own, all four of us quickly default to staying up ’til midnight and sleeping ’til 8 or 9 a.m.. Yet our boys need to get up at 6 a.m. for school, and one parent along with them. Dave and I take turns, but that means I end up dreading the early days, and sleeping in extra-long on my days “off.” I feel like I am tired one day, catching up the next, and then I stay up too late on the sleep-in day and it bites me in the butt the next early morning. I think (hope?) that with a more consistent schedule I will just get used to the early morning and adjust my day accordingly.

But overall, I think I’ve been doing an OK job of managing my time. Last year I read “168 Hours” and “Getting Things Done” as well as some tips regarding my “ideal week” from Michael Hyatt’s blog, plus a lot of books and blogs about minimalism, so I’ve focused on improving my work flow. I work from home, which means there is incredible flexibility and freedom but also tremendous opportunity for procrastination and good ol’ time-wasting

I’ve worked to make Tuesdays and Thursdays my main writing days and do errands during part of Wednesdays, other work and meetings on Mondays and Wednesdays, household cleaning and laundry on Thursday late afternoon, and a little computer work on Friday, which is Dave’s day off so he is home all day. We have a standing lunch date and sometimes tackle other household jobs but protect most of the day from individual appointments. I’ve recently begun doing my grocery shopping on Saturdays.

Which brings me to another observation. For the most part, I hate shopping. Or at least, going out and shopping. It doesn’t matter what it is: groceries, clothes, household items — I love researching things online but I hate taking time to drive, park, search for items, wait in line, etc.. Clutter (people, things, noise) in my external environment really impacts my internal state of mind, so shopping is a very draining activity even when I do it during non-peak times. But I don’t mind online shopping, and I am starting to buy more and more things via Amazon. I also try to “batch” my shopping and other errands so I can prepare for it emotionally and be more efficient with that time, so I don’t run out all the time for just a few things. Dave is also happy to run errands for me as needed.

Another benefit of my rather fluid schedule is that I’m around when our boys (ages 13 and 11) need something. We also have a lot of spontaneous interaction/connection time, which I really enjoy. I try to do more household work once they are home, but if they get busy with their own stuff I can work on email and similar computer tasks.

My final observation is that our family saves a ton of time because we chose to live within a mile of church, school, and the gym. Groceries and Target are just another 2-3 miles, and the regional mall is about 12 minutes away. Some people enjoy a commute as part of the “decompression time.” I am not one of them. One of our family’s values has been to not live in a minivan. (Which is also why we don’t have a minivan.)

I am looking forward to Laura’s impressions but this has already been a helpful exercise. What would this exercise reveal about the way you spend your time?

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