Time-tracking challenge – wrap up thread

img_2417The 168 Hours Time-Tracking Challenge officially ended for me at 5 a.m. Monday morning. I was asleep! Indeed, I slept from 10:30-6:30, when I heard the baby. I kind of rolled over and assumed my husband got up with him, and I dozed until 6:45, when I realized the baby had gone back to sleep! He slept until 8. He must have been tired from tiring us out over the weekend. I could actually use my morning to work, to check over my 9-year-old's math homework, and grab breakfast.

Today I analyzed my log from the week. I found I worked 36.25 hours, which is pretty typical for me these days in the midst of kid activities. Sometimes I think it should be higher, and I know I could excuse myself from more of the driving than I do. I also know I will probably need to do that when travel picks up (January/February are relatively slow on the convention front) and as I get closer to my book deadline. So I'm letting it go right now. A good chunk of that time was spent working on book related projects. As that is my top priority right now, I am happy with that.

I slept 7.29 hours/day. This is just slightly under my long term average of 7.4 hours/day, and as I look at my log, I see I was somewhat sloppy with writing down the exact last time I looked at the clock. So it is quite possible it was 7.4 hours and I just did the counting wrong. There was quite a range on this: 6 hours on Monday, to 8.25 hours on Thursday. I was woken up twice before 5 a.m., though only one night was a true up-in-the-middle-of-the-night horror show. (Being woken up at 4:45 am. is no fun, but it could reasonably be considered the morning, I suppose).

Sleeping 51 hours and working 36.25 hours leaves almost 81 hours for other things. Some highlights from that time: I read for 15 hours, which is pretty intense. I put the Kindle app on my phone, and I made sure I always had something to read. The result is that I read books instead of scrolling through headlines when I had time that would otherwise be tough to use (e.g. sitting at karate or wrestling). I could bring a book, but somehow picking up a book feels like I've committed to something but picking up the phone does not. I am much, much more willing to get the phone out of my bag. Interesting insight into my mindset, but given that this is about 2x what I read during the first year I tracked time, I'll take it.

I also ran all 7 days. I find that "every day" is kind of a liberating notion. Instead of asking if I will exercise, I ask when. And when one asks "when" it's usually possible to find the time. Some highlights from that: running 6 miles outside in 63 degree weather on Thursday, and running a 27:56 5k on the treadmill at the YMCA (during my son's wrestling meet).

I spent a reasonable amount of time with my husband. We did not do any official out-of-house date nights, but we spent some time chatting almost every day. Neither of us were traveling this week (he was gone one night, and that night started after the kids went to bed) and so that helped there.

I spent some one-on-one time with all four kids. The little guy took his time in the morning, though we played before dinner a reasonable number of days too. I took my daughter to the Chuck E. Cheese birthday party (and took dictation on a story she was writing). I took the 7-year-old to wrestling and hung out with him then. I did some school-related stuff with the 9-year-old, which was actually more fun than it sounds. We did the family trip to the Crayola Experience. We were visited by the tooth fairy and celebrated a 2nd birthday.

All in all, there was nothing particularly profound about the week. I say there are no typical weeks, but this week was pretty typical. And it was pretty good. Well, except for the early wake-ups. But other than that, not bad.

In other news: Ringling Brothers just appointed their first female ringmaster. Just in time for the circus to be shutting down, though.

I also heard from a blog reader who started a blog called Type A Mom of Multiples. She had triplets (!) and found that while the early weeks/months were tiring, eventually she was able to sleep, and have leisure time. Her blog aims to make the experience of having multiples feel a bit more doable.

Speaking of changing the narrative, Jen Dziura has a post over at Medium about taking zero maternity leave...and it all being fine. (I should note: she works for herself. Different matter entirely than working for someone else).

Photo: Where the little guy falls asleep most nights. Eventually he'll figure out the baby-proof door handle. 

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8 Responses to Time-tracking challenge – wrap up thread


  1. Jamie says:

    I started work on my dissertation when my daughter was 2 weeks old, and I made a coding error that cost me hours of work the following fall. It’s entirely possible that I could have made the same error if I’d given my brain more time to recover…but I’m not convinced I would have. I’m curious about what the writer of that Medium piece will say a year from now. Working while on morphine seems like an easy way to make trouble for your future self.

  2. Jamie says:

    Tone doesn’t come through well via internet comments, and that could sound mean or smug. I wish her well. I just keep realizing, though, how much the state of my body influences the workings of my brain.

    • @Jamie- I think different people have different experiences, and different kinds of work are different too. I’m not sure many of us can do too much requiring deep thinking while on morphine (e.g. intricate coding stuff). On the other hand, when I was in the hospital after delivering my last kid, he was sleeping a lot so all I had available was watching bad TV (that’s where I started watching My 600 lb Life!) Knocking out some emails doesn’t seem “worse” than that. In my case, it was such a quick birth that I wasn’t even coming down from any painkillers.

  3. Sally says:

    I’ve been tracking my time for a few months now along with you. I use the hours app for iPhone and I enjoy doing it. It’s as you said in the Facebook live video, just the act of tracking the time changes my behavior so I keep going.
    I’ve recently noticed a pattern of slacking off on thursdays and fridays so next week I’ve packed in work mon-wed and planned more enjoyable to-dos for the end of the week.
    On FB live you said two hours of work feels like a longer duration in our minds than an equal amount of hours watching TV. I’m trying to be more mindful during my me time, even though I have the data to prove it’s there, I want to feel the hours 🙂
    Thanks!

    • @Sally- yep, things that are scheduled stick out in the mind, and things we don’t want to do seem to take longer than things we do want to do. The key with time mindfulness is having some intention for downtime (so you notice it). Otherwise, we wind up with the phenomenon that people think they spend the majority of their waking hours at work when the vast majority of people do not.
      Smart move to plan the fun stuff for when you know your energy might be waning!

  4. Claire says:

    I didn’t manage to track this time – I have a 14 week old and am one of those lucky Europeans who get a decent stint of maternity leave But I enjoy these posts and plan to use some of the strategies here and in I know how she does it when I go back to work in a couple of months!

    I am curious though Laura about your long term time tracking – do you regularly review your data you have in this wrap up? If so how often and do you use what you see to change your practices? I can see how tracking over a very long time frame helps to eliminate the occasional issues which can seem all consuming at the time – e.g. the sleepless night or the crazy trip schedule – and I wonder how long might be good to track for to build a good picture?

  5. Lindsay says:

    >I could bring a book, but somehow picking up a book feels like I’ve committed to something but picking up the phone does not. I am much, much more willing to get the phone out of my bag.

    I think this is the key to phone reading versus physical book reading. It doesn’t feel so intimidating to read when you do it on the same device you use for other things. I often wish that everyone would count the articles they read online as “real reading” (including blogs like yours); when I tracked my time last April, I certainly did.

    • @Lindsay- I think reading purposefully online is great. What I think most of us feel bad about is the aimless scrolling, reading through comments in certain fora just to see people fight with each other, etc. That doesn’t feel quite the same.

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