Time tracking challenge: Day 1

Monday January 11th started in the middle of the night. My husband had gotten up with the baby at midnight and then got him back down, but when he heard him at 2:45, he woke me for that one. The kid would not go back down. Rocking, nursing, bottles, letting him cry it out. At 4, I gave him to my husband to give it a whirl. I don’t know what he did but I went back to bed. I would set my alarm to go off at 6:45 to do my quick 18-minute treadmill workout, but I turned it off after the middle-of-the-night wake up. So I got up at 7:10 when my daughter came in to snuggle. We snuggled for 10 minutes, then I showered, and got my breakfast and various other people’s.

Our nanny came at 8, but my work start was delayed because people’s mittens and shoes were missing. My 8-year-old’s shoes were eventually located on the back porch, where he’d taken them off when we sat there after getting locked out on Sunday (long story).

I started work around 8:40. I worked on writing an essay for Fast Company until 11. Then I did some administrative and email stuff until my first call (interviewing someone) at 11:30. I did another interview at noon. Then I had lunch with my daughter, who was home from preschool. I did more phone calls at 1, 2, and 2:30. I was done with these around 3pm. I went to the post office to mail a petition to the PA Department of Revenue (good times!) I came back and made myself tea and a snack, and then answered email until 4:30 (with a short break to say hello to the boys when they got off the bus around 4:10). I nursed the baby while attempting to research spring break vacation options. I’m thinking warm, but with interesting stuff for the kids. US (and its territories) have preference just because I haven’t gotten the baby a passport yet but for the right place I’d haul myself in to get that done. Ideas?

Then I got in my running clothes and did a quick 20-minute treadmill workout while our nanny brought the 8-year-old to swim (with the baby -- the 6- and 4-year old stayed at home with me but entertaining themselves). I made it through the 2 minute intervals at 6 mph, 7 mph, and then 8 mph. I made it through 35 seconds at 8.5, then dialed it down for 2 minutes, then went back up to do another minute interval at 7, then at 8, then another 20 seconds at 8.5 mph. My goal is to be able to do the 2-minute interval at 9 mph by the end of March. It is not going to be easy, but the good news about this workout is that the 2 minutes at 8 mph are starting to feel pretty doable. And that is progress.

Then, back to bits and pieces and organizing tomorrow until 6. I got the 6- and 4-year-old dinner (the baby ate dinner earlier). Then we got in the minivan at 6:25 to get the 8-year-old at swim. This was a low point of the day. I sent in my 6-year-old, who couldn’t find his brother (who was lingering in the changing room). He came out twice, so I had to eventually pull around and park on the street and haul the 3 little kids in the dark along a dangerously busy road to get back to the school. The baby was screaming much of the way home.

At home (around 7), I enforced piano practice -- it was not being played to my desired level -- and then did a bath for the baby. I nursed and supplemented with a bottle to get him to bed at 8. I let the kids play and watch TV while I cooked my dinner and ate it. It’s 8:30 or so and I’m posting here. The kids have been warned that they will have snacks in 5 minutes, and then it’s off to bed. I plan to read. I hope to sleep through the night, but I am not optimistic.

So -- thoughts on the day. I can see that I am very focused at work in the morning, and if I have phone calls, that time tends to be pretty focused too. After intense work and a lot of interviews, though, my brain is pretty fried. I’m good about answering email in this stage, rather than earlier. Working out is also a good idea. I like the idea of working out first thing in the morning, but the truth is with my schedule it’s not necessary like it would be for someone with an office job. Later in the day is just fine.

How did your day go?

In other news: Happy to hear about your time-tracking, but I'm also looking for interesting answers to another question. If you were to invest $1000 in yourself somehow this year, how would you do it?

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61 Responses to Time tracking challenge: Day 1


  1. Meg says:

    It’s not cheap–especially at spring break, I would guess–but Atlantis in the Bahamas is lovely, good stuff for kids of all ages. Hawaii is also great, and you could do another island besides Oahu if you wanted smaller crowds. As for the mainland, San Diego is pretty fun!

  2. Heather says:

    A yoga class once a week. If I buy a class pass, it would be $10/class. I still have $480 left. Then I would get a massage every two months. Yep. I think that’s my answer. I might hire a regular babysitter once a week. My kids go to daycare, so we have +/-50 hours of childcare a week already paid for. It’s always hard to justify the extra money and time away from kids since we already have regular childcare.

    • @Heather – out of curiosity, would there be a specific task/fun thing/etc. you’d use the extra hours of sitting to cover? We wind up using extra sitting partly so I can go into NYC for things that I’d still go to if we lived there. It’s an investment in its own way.

  3. Lindsey says:

    Travel Idea: Puerto Rico

    LOVE that place. Luquillo area has gorgeous beach (Balneario Luquillo, I think…) and you’re super close to the rainforest (El Yunque). We’ve gone twice, both times with an infant. We rented a condo through VRBO to have bedrooms to put children to bed in. It’s amazing how nice it can be to sit on a balcony and enjoy an adult beverage while they sleep!

    And if I had $1000 to invest in myself, I would split it up between professional coaching, child care and massage. Probably not that interesting, but it sounds wonderful!

  4. Katy says:

    Up at 5 w a kid, worked 8-11, then daycare called with a fever. I aim to be 2-4 days ahead for work so there’s room for slip. As long as he goes back on Wednesday my week will be fine. I do sick days mwf and hubby does tth. None of our backup nannies were available this time.

    • @Katy- so so smart to work 2-4 days ahead. A buffer is key when there is a kid in daycare. I missed about 5 weeks of work my first winter due to the constant illnesses. Ugh.

    • Meghan says:

      Katy, I love that you have an established division of sick care! Slightly jealous (as the work-at-home parent and spouse of a military officer, that’s not an option here), but mainly just impressed. I hope the baby’s better now.

  5. Kathryn says:

    We are looking at spring break in Oceanside CA. We hear beach houses are reasonable and legoland and San Diego are nearby. It is a haul on the plane for us, but anywhere warm will be a bit of a trek.

    • @Kathryn – San Diego is potentially on the list. I love La Jolla, we’d rent a house and then also do the Legoland/Sea World/Zoo stuff. We went 4 years ago and the kids loved it.

  6. Sara B. says:

    Sorry about your sleep troubles, but it’s good to hear mine isn’t the only newly-minted 1-year old who is no longer sleeping well. I keep telling myself that this, too, shall pass. I wish I knew when.

    I’m doing some self-funded continuing education I’d been hoping I could get covered by work, but that’s not happening and it will be really good for me, so I’m just paying to do it. I expect it will pay for itself in the next few years anyway.

    • @Sara B – yes, I hope it will pass, though I don’t remember this ongoing trouble with the other ones. I hope yours starts sleeping better too.

  7. A monthly massage. $1,000 done.

    My fairly productive day: Started the day with Facebook at 9:15 am but only for 15 minutes, then wrote a health article for two hours, then FB check-in for 10 minutes, followed by some copy editing for a client, then an hour lunch while watching Downton Abbey. Had a 20-minute unscheduled client call, followed by some project management for that same client for 40 minutes. Now at 2 pm: on Twitter & did some emails for 15 minutes, then worked on another client project for 45 minutes. From 3:30-4 pm, hung out with my husband who just go home from work (no kids), then emailed a bunch of sources for a new article for 45 minutes, played & worked on social media for about an hour while a source didn’t call me as scheduled. At night, dinner and DVR catch-up for 2.5 hours, then 30 minutes of chores. I’ve spent the past two hours listening to David Bowie music and an amazing writing podcast a friend did, booking trips and chatting with colleagues and friends on social media.

    • @Melanie – I like the idea of watching a favorite show during a lunch break!
      Figuring out what to do when a scheduled call doesn’t happen is always tough. Using unexpected time in general is tough, though I try to make a list of things to do…

      • Normally I would work on another projects or do social media for work while waiting on that call, but this was 6 pm so I would have normally stopped my work day at that point anyway.

        I have always tried to take a lunch break away from my desk, when I was an employee too. The only bad part about watching the DVR during lunch now is that it takes away from when I used to read books. I have gotten away from reading because of that and also because I no longer have a two-hour train commute to work. I have tried to get back into reading, but part of me simply prefers other things at certain times instead.

  8. Visnu says:

    I would used it with vegan food business. Perhaps use only $400 of those to start it off then use the remaining to sustain a better health

  9. Jamie says:

    I’d love to help plan your trip. My family just got back from Oahu and loved it. Puerto Rico is also beautiful!

    • @Jamie – Hawaii is on the list at some point – though I’m a little wary of the length of the flight! I’m thinking we’ll attempt that one once the little guy can be entertained by screens.

  10. Jamie says:

    To answer your question about investing, I am hoping to invest in a good skin care program. It’s something I’ve shyed away from because of the cost of many products but I think it’s time.

  11. Rachel says:

    $250 for 2 nights hotel for a personal retreat: workouts, hot tubs, and a lot of reading and personal and career reflection and planning.
    $750 for massage and chiropractic care. My 38 year old body is not recovering so easily from runs and the rowing machine.

    • @Rachel – I have a few nights booked in Austin for SXSW, and I’m thinking this may become my personal career reflection retreat. I have not tried chiropractic but I am all about the massages. I have one coming up on Thursday. So excited!

      • Meghan says:

        I have a great Austin spa recommendation if you want one. A close friend is an LMT there.

  12. Megan says:

    Personal trainer. I’ve never splurged and want to at least try it. Anything extra for monthly massages. I miss them.

    • Megan, we joined our local YMCA and I signed up for four personal trainer sessions at about $250. Loved it. Not cheap, but certainly cheaper than a private trainer or some gyms. Maybe there are other personal trainer type options in your area.

  13. Maggie says:

    Hmmm… that is a great question! Some business coaching, to get clarity about what I’m doing with my business. I’m finding that I can be a freelance everything, but I’ll never accomplish my empire-building dreams by going that route. Additionally, it makes it difficult to tell people what I do.

    • @Maggie — love it! Let us know if you land a coach who helps you figure out the perfect niche. Brand refining would be a good investment.

  14. Kario says:

    $1,000 for me? I am currently building a good packable work travel wardrobe but hope to do that for under $500 with after-Christmas sales. The remainder I’d put into books, music, and local theater/concerts.

    • @Kario- I love the wardrobe idea. I hate to think it would make a difference in anything — but it does.

  15. Cb says:

    Time tracking went well, first day of term and wasn’t quite as prepared as I hoped to be so quite a bit of time was lost to transitions and admin. Came home with a splitting headache so that scuppered productive evening plans – curled up with husband and watched War & Peace instead. But enjoying the process of tracking.

    With $1000, I’d book myself on 3 residential writing retreats and use the time and space to make some substantial writing progress.

  16. Meshari says:

    Unfortunately I was sick I went for a short time to work then I got back home, today also sick which give me the opportunity to read your post.
    I would like to invest this money for German course to improve my language and for coaching program.

  17. Tatjana says:

    I really want to go back to learning Chinese (abandoned in the first pregnancy 6 years ago because evening classes became difficult to manage with work and family) so I would hire a private tutor to come to my home. I would also possibly brush up on my other languages.

    • @Tatjana- brilliant! One-on-one instruction (in whatever language/skill) would be a great investment.

  18. Claire says:

    With $1000 to spend, I’d rent a little cottage in the country for a week and spend the time, reading, writing and napping.

    Deliciousness!

    • @Claire – I’d love to take a writing retreat too. Might cost a bit more than a grand to outsource the fam, though…

  19. Leanne says:

    Laura, I actually AM investing about $1000 in myself right now! Start up costs for a new website/nonfiction book plan. It’s fun to go in a new direction while still building on prior skills.

    • @Leanne- good for you! I’m looking forward to see how the non-fiction book plan turns out.

  20. Lisa says:

    We went to Puerto Rico after Christmas with a 4 and 5 year old. Old San Juan and the forts were fascinating and the kids enjoyed them too. Then spent the afternoons at the beach/pool.

  21. Marci Gilbert says:

    I love that question and reading other answers. I would use the money for a short vacation with my husband. Or a few weeks of extra childcare (we have about 25 hours/week) and dive into a short term volunteer project.
    We went to Mayakoba outside Cancun last month and the three resorts there are amazing. Easy to get to, but passport needed.
    Also, San Antonio has some great resorts for families. Weather should be warm enough at spring break for swimming. I live in Houston.

  22. Joyce says:

    I’m a SAHM with a 4 month old looking to re-enter the workforce as an engineer and have been actively looking for 3 weeks. After tracking my time, I realized I only dedicated 3 hours a week (being generous) completing online job applications.

    I would use the $1,000 to hire a sitter so I can attend a professional networking events, get up to date on my membership, attend job fairs, and go to the regional/national conference for Society of Women Engineers while bringing my husband along so he can watch the baby.

  23. Meghan says:

    Savannah is gorgeous in the spring, and you might be able to time the break to one of the many 10k or half marathons. There’s the beach as well as the city, and Charleston is only a couple of hours away for a change of pace. Savannah’s a very kid-friendly place — cool state parks and museums. It’s also a lot closer than the west coast!

    For the $1000, I love the previous suggestions of language classes or a writing retreat. Today, I’d probably spend the entire amount on massages and chiropractic treatment because I’ve hurt my neck somehow, but in reality, I’d probably balance those out with classes and writing. Fun question!

  24. Megan says:

    I just took my bonus and transformed it into prepaid massages. I’ve discovered that a monthly massage is critical for my not developing bad trigger point pain while on work travel (gotta love those 9 hour flights in coach….) That’s only $600 for the year, however, so, with the remaining $400…I found a woman who does private german tutoring and would likely turn that into 20 sessions with her to improve my writing.

  25. Amy says:

    I just had my first facial in about 4 years (thanks to a wonderful friend who gave it to me as a joint birthday/Christmas gift!!). Now I can’t believe I stopped going; I feel great for taking the time for myself and my face feels so much lighter and cleaner and therefore I feel more radiant. I would use the $1000 towards facials every other month. #SelfCareMatters

  26. Emily says:

    I plan to invest about $1,000 this year for work out classes- specifically, Pure Barre. I have been going for about three months and have experienced great improvements in my strength and energy levels!

  27. Jenny says:

    I too came in to suggest Puerto Rico. I know tons of families that have visited with small kids and it’s an easy flight.

    Regarding investing in myself: my initial inclination is to say new clothes and shoes that don’t suck but I know those things don’t actually make me feel happy nor invested in. I’m thinking private Spanish tutor to take my speaking skills to the next level.

  28. Ali says:

    I would either use it for a personal trainer or to have my apartment cleaned. I loved when I had a trainer before because strength training has helped me prevent injury when I train for big races. I feel useless in a weight room without someone creating a plan for me and keeping me accountable. And I don’t mind cleaning my apartment myself but it would free up some time that I could use for other things. Plus a more thorough job would be done on a more frequent basis!

  29. Ana says:

    TBH $1K isn’t going to get me much for my career, but I could stretch it into some awesome personal stuff! Barre classes weekly, a once a week sitter—either to work longer hours or date night, and so I can save time in the mornings—hair straightening treatments.

  30. Mary says:

    Vacation and/or put it toward the initial market research for my business idea.

  31. Ahlia says:

    For some reason, it feels hard to translate the excel grid into a paragraph, maybe I’ll try harder another day. I would’ve said I’d spend $1000 on a career coach, but I’m already planning on doing that this year and budgeting for it. If I had an extra $1000, I’d spring for a personal spa/ personal reflection weekend for myself. We went to San Diego last year (February break though) and thoroughly enjoyed it, but PR sounds like it could be fun. Either way, warmth + sunshine is definitely a welcomed break in the winter/ spring.

    • @Ahlia and others who’ve mentioned coaches – I’d love to hear what you get out of these sessions, and how you might calculate the return on investment!

      • Ahlia says:

        I don’t plan on doing it until the summer, I’ve been feeling a little stuck lately… I imagine, whatever comes of the coaching may take months (maybe longer) to implement or execute. But I will definitely let you know how it goes in the long run!

  32. Julia says:

    $1000 would nicely fund the “momcation” (aka, decamping to a hotel with room service and spa treatments for a weekend) I’ve been saying I’m going to take for a solid year now.
    As a WAHM with minimal childcare, I’m tracking my time to see if I can be more efficient with my time. My Monday results are here: http://www.juliakgarza.com/blog/2016/01/work-at-home-mom-time-diary-monday.html

    • @Julia- thanks for posting your time diary. When do you normally work? During nap and after bed? I look forward to seeing the rest of the log!

      • Julia says:

        Naps, after he’s in bed, and he has preschool 2 mornings a week. Naptime, at least in recent months, has not been a very productive time for me (it seems we have a 50% success rate as to whether or not he takes a nap). Obviously, preschool mornings are golden, though I do try to squeeze in a yoga class on one of those mornings. I really don’t mind working after he goes to bed, but the challenge there is that I aim to be away from all screens by 10 pm. That can be hard to enforce when I’m really into whatever I’m working on. It’s a juggle!

  33. Yana says:

    Loved tracking time yesterday! And it went a lot easier than I expected.
    As for $1000. I actually will be taking a photography business workshop in March ($750), the left over money would go towards my future rent of the photo studio space and cup cakes I would serve on the grand opening :).

  34. Not related to your question, but about the post office trip. This fall I got a scale and started doing all my shipping from home. Dragging a 2 and 3 yr old into the post office was awful. I ship Mary Kay and handcrafted custom monster-like stuffies weekly (daily with the Holiday rush.)
    If you’re looking to save the trip I the post office, it’s worth it to look into.
    Thanks for your blogging work! I appreciate having your words in my life.

  35. Keda says:

    loving tracking my time but not loving the all the wasted time I am seeing.
    With the $1000 I would sign up for the writing course that I have had my eye on for a while. Then start up physio & massages for my wrists so I can write after work with no pain. It made such a difference when I was going a few months ago but with the holidays it was let go.

  36. Heather says:

    Investing for $1000: my first instinct was ‘clothing!’ I generally dislike shopping, and recently took on a role at work with more responsibility – my wardrobe currently actively makes it hard to get dressed in the morning.

  37. Calee says:

    I read this while sitting in the dentist chair while getting a crown replaced. There went $925 of my self-improvement dollars… Career-wise, I think I need to find a new networking/mentorship group. The ones I’m considering are pricey so I’d love to hear if others have joined similar programs and have positive things to say.

    • @Calee- so sorry to hear about the crown. Ugh! I’d be interested in hearing what people think about mastermind type groups too (I also intend to write about them one of these days). I wouldn’t mind forming my own at some point too.

  38. Anne says:

    I had fun thinking of how to answer the $1,000 investment question. I am very fortunate to work for a firm that sends me to at least one conference/training each year so I would choose more personal items for myself… Another round of laser hair removal treatment, appointment to get my hair colored, meet with a personal trainer for a new exercise plan and get fitted for/buy a new bra.

  39. Mary Beth Patnaude says:

    I am already investing in my doctoral degree ( to the tune of about $9000 this year) but if I had another $1000, I would get 10 massages!

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