I’ve been having dozens of people keep time logs over the past few weeks. In solidarity, I decided to track my time again, too. I have kept multiple time logs over the years since I started writing 168 Hours. I always learn something new about my life. This is actually the first full 168-hour time log I’ve kept since moving to Pennsylvania and since having my third kid.
As I reviewed it today, I was heartened to see that spending four years thinking about time can, in fact, help you have a lot of fun with it. Last week (Feb 10-16) was a good and full week. I went to the zoo. I went swimming twice at the Y. I ran five times. I took the kids out to a pancake dinner at IHOP, and took my oldest son to his favorite pizza parlor for lunch. I made Valentine’s Day breakfast: heart-shaped pancakes. I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. I met with my agent. I spent several hours brainstorming what I’m calling the BBB (my “big business book” idea -- I need to come up with one, but it's proving difficult). My husband and I did a special anniversary date night that involved going to one of our favorite restaurants in New York, where we had drinks with my brother and his girlfriend before dinner. We stayed overnight and went to brunch the next morning. I spent close to 2 of my 168 hours reading to my kids, a fact greatly aided by the discovery that the baby (OK, toddler) will now sit on my lap and look at stories for quite a while. Since I’m often up early in the morning with her, this gives us something more pleasant to do during the wee hours than my lying on the couch.
Perhaps most heartening: I slept between 7-8 hours every night. Even if it didn't always feel like it.
While some of the fun was previously planned (an overnight date night has to be on the calendar about a month in advance for it to happen) keeping track of my time greatly aided in the cause of having a great week.
For starters, I think of “reading with kids” as a productive way to spend my time. I do like doing it, it’s just always easy to chuck for other things. So, knowing that I’d be writing my actions down, I was more inclined to pick up a book and, once I had picked it up, read a little longer than I might have.
I could also see, as I kept track of my time, that while I spent a lot of time with my 1-year-old, my boys got a bit less one-on-one attention. So I looked for ways to make that happen. Hence the pizza lunch. I also got my 3-year-old to go to the post office and grocery store with me one day. He helped pick out the Valentine’s Day cards for our family breakfast, and that made him feel special and helpful.
There were a few things I was less thrilled about. I spent more time on email than I would have liked this week. Partly that’s because I’m working through other people’s time logs (it’s a bit meta: my logs show much time spent on other people’s logs). I do enjoy learning about people’s schedules and I *love* the phone calls and exchanges I’m having, but keeping on top of the inbox eats up a lot of space. Keeping track of my time helped me see that returning most messages within 24 hours isn't always possible.
I’m also trying to get better about when I do my first email check of the day. I could pick up the iPhone as soon as I wake up, but since I’m usually waking up with the kids, it distracts me from them. So I’m trying to push it closer to the actual start of my work day. That way I read stories with the toddler rather than check my inbox. This is easiest to do if I leave the phone charging upstairs, far away from the breakfast table.
There is also, still, puttering time. I’m working on this -- on turning puttering time or distracted time into fun time. My boys had watched “How to tame your dragon” during the week, so Friday morning after breakfast, we had a spontaneous family game of training our dragons. It’s kind of like Simon Says, only you have the kid do something dragon-related. There was fire breathing and flying and jumping. That space after breakfast and before our sitter shows up is often hard to use well. On Monday (the day I’m writing this) I found myself running up and down the stairs trying to supervise one kid’s breakfast, change the toddler’s diaper, and still act interested in the marine habitat my oldest wanted me to help with in the basement. While sometimes I like the kids to all do their own thing, at a time like that, it’s better if they all do the same thing. So I should attempt to steer things that direction. And if that direction involves dragons, all the better.
Have you made changes as a result of tracking your time?
Photo courtesy flickr user wwarby