March 28, 2024

Thursday thoughts on time

I have been tracking my time since February and it's been an interesting exercise at this point in my life.  Here are some of my thoughts so far.

I am more aware of the free time I have.  Sure, I don't have a lot of free time.  I have four kids age 5 and under.  But I don't have *no* free time.  I have some free time.  Sometimes I use that time for hobbies and interests.  Sometimes I use that time to putter around the house.  Sometimes I write a blog or read.  I don't do a lot of this, but I definitely do some of this.

I am aware that in order to use my free time towards anything of value, I need to start planning this before the free time starts.  If babies go down for a nap and I think "what would be the best use of my time now?" I've already missed the opportunity.  For instance, if I want to exercise more, I need to decide early that when the babies go down for a nap I will do exercise.  If I wait for babies to go to sleep and then consider doing exercise I will waste too much time considering

I don't always need to use free time for things of value.  Today my time log includes 2.5 hours of "misc life putter house admin ?? Andy ??" time.  I don't really have much to show for that time, but I'm aware I had it.  I didn't have a day with no time for exercise or reading or cooking, I had a day where I chose not to do exercise or read or cook in the 2.5 hours available to me.

I am not as tired as I think.  I get on average 7.5 hours of sleep per 24 hour period.  This is fine.  Sure, I wake up once or twice or sometimes three times a night for baby stuff, but I am in bed early (usually by 8) and have been waking up between 5 and 6.  I'm not currently doing Rachel Mornings... but when my sleep average increases I'll start those again. Or maybe, someday, I'll leave the house after kid bedtime!

Our family works on a schedule, and right now Andy and I set the tone.  Because we go to bed early the kids also go to bed early.  Today Isaac and Lilah were asleep by 6:15.  Babies were asleep by 6:45.  Sure, everyone will be up at 6am, but when kids are tired we go to sleep.  We always eat dinner at 5:30.  If we get invited somewhere in the evening we don't go.  For us, this pattern is working for now.  In the future, we will have more spontaneity again.

My time feels so different on days when there is actually no down time, like when I am watching the twins and the three year old.  I don't know how moms do twins and small children without childcare.  I am not suited for it.  I adore all my kids, but I adore them more when I have some down time in a day. 

A smart phone can suck 15 minutes of my time as often as I let it.  It's very easy to create a "when/then" pairing with a smart phone.  "When the babies feed, then I scroll" is a hard habit to break.  Remembering that I have to write "play with phone" on my time log helps me do less of it, but this is definitely something to keep an eye on.

Really, the time log reinforces that I have enough time for almost anything I want to do, but I don't have time for everything I want to do.  So I need to keep thinking of what I really want with my time and focusing on that.  Sometimes, it is a day of puttering around the house.  Sometimes it's more. 

How I use our time is an indication of what I value. Time tracking helps me realign if I'm starting to drift away from my values.

Have you ever done time tracking?  Far more information, and far better written info, can be found at LauraVanderkam.com

5 comments:

  1. I have tracked time but I am a little too type A for it. I want each 15 minutes to be mutually exclusive, so I had a hard time deciding what to put if I was commuting but listening to an audiobook. Is this "commuting" or "reading?" I would like to count the reading, as I find that a valuable thing in my life, whereas I don't love commuting, but I still want to account for commuting, as I would love to be able to get that number down if I could. So I did do it but I found a lot of overlap that I was not happy with.

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    1. Oh I know! I've started putting more info in each box (like "tidying while listening to audiobook" but I realised I can't really get much accurate data out of time tracking for that reason - I do more than 24 hours of single things in 24 hours. However I do use a few sumiff to guess how much I do certain things in a day (like work, or sleep, or read) because even if I'm commuting and reading I am doing both things - so if I want to know how long I read in a day it doesn't matter if I also was commuting at the same time.

      However I know that's not a very accurate way of measuring my day... I could never make a pie chart from this data. I like to use it more as an addition to my own qualitative assessment of time - did I enjoy my day? Do enjoyable days have different quantities of time spent on certain activities than less enjoyable days?

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    2. I think I realized that what I wanted out of it was to see if I was wasting free time and if so, I would try to change that. So I think even though I got annoyed with the time slot categorization, I did learn something in the end.

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  2. I've never done time tracking. I don't think it would be something I would enjoy doing forever, but if I felt like my days were somehow getting away with me, or like I didn't have time to do things I wanted to do (or merely SHOULD do), it would be a very useful tool for that. Like yours, where you found the 2.5 hours, which let you know that you DO have that time in some days, and now you can think about how you want to use it. Puttering, napping, exercising, reading, whatever. I like this idea, and am glad my life is not currently in a space where I need it. (My only child just turned 28, so we are definitely in different phases of life!)

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    1. I love reading/hearing about your phase of life! Time tracking definitely helps me for the busy times but is not something i'll do forever. It interesting how quantifying time can help make it feel qualitatively better.

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