I have now officially crunched 143 logs for Mosaic: work totals, sleep totals, housework, exercise, TV, reading…. The reason this is significant is that 143 logs give me 1000 days (1001 to be exact). That was my target for data analysis. I think 1000 days gives me a pretty good picture of modern life.
(Side note: I actually have a lot more than 143 logs, but several were unusable for various reasons I’ll get around to writing about eventually. Also, still got a log you want to turn in? I am continuing to collect logs, because the more data I get the better. I especially love it when people are willing to talk about their lives for the book. People can be anonymous, but I also like real people with real names!)
I’ll have lots of analysis in the book but I’ll be writing about it here too. Here’s one big, personal insight that stuck out for me:
I work a lot.
I had some sense that I probably worked a fair amount. I never really think I do, both because I enjoy it, and because I track my time and am not prone to exaggeration. So the personal totals I see — 50 hours/week on a regular week, and more like 55-60 hours/week when not on vacation the past 2 months — don’t sound that high. In the Wall Street Journal yesterday, I saw yet another person refer to his “80-hour weeks” that required a life adjustment. I know, thanks to a study in the June 2011 Monthly Labor Review, that people claiming 80-hour workweeks are off by about 25 hours. So his stressful “before” is actually my current 55.
Looking at other people’s logs confirms this really is a lot. I can now see that people in fields I always thought of as featuring long hours — law, medicine, finance — are often working fewer hours than me. This is somewhat of a sobering thought, as I imagine many of them are earning more. A lot more. Hmm.
The work hour thing explains my volume of output. I’ve had a few people recently tell me they’re surprised at the sheer quantity of words I’ve been spewing into the universe. There is no secret to prolificity. I work a lot of hours and I spend a lot of those hours writing. I’m probably not that prolific on a words per minute basis.
Of course, working 55 hours/week still leaves time for the rest of life. I sleep about 52.5 hours/week, so that leaves about 60 hours/week for other things. I get my exercise, and I read, and I occasionally watch TV. And given that I quit my first shift at 5:15 most nights, and my kids don’t go to sleep until 9, there’s lots of kid time in there too.
But it is interesting to see the gap. I imagine that most people would think that “writer” is a more relaxed, family friendly life than, say, being a manager at a tech company. It may be more flexible — though plenty of people in “real” jobs have a lot of flexibility. I’m seeing that in Mosaic, too. What I do know is that work hours are often more about choice than a matter of job title.