168 Hours Time Tracking Challenge Day 7

If you kept tracking time through to today, congratulations! You now have an artifact of your life at this point in time, a rough record of where the previous 168 hours (well, almost) really went. I like to print out my filled-in spreadsheets and study them. I will admit that I am a time management freak, but you might find it enjoyable as well! And reviewing where the time went helps cement memories.

Anyway, here's how I spent the previous day, which wasn't so much a bad day, objectively, it's just that the difference between expectations and reality were kind of harsh.

After filing my post last night, I went and read on the back porch. I finished my book (The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman). I think I read it, and finished it, because I seriously needed a change of pace after wading through Frederick Law Olmsted's The Cotton Kingdom. It was not really memorable except for being the complete opposite, in every single way, of The Cotton Kingdom.

We then had many discussions of today's logistics. In retrospect, the solution we chose was probably not the best one. My husband needed to be in NYC for something mid-day, and decided to bring the 3 big kids with him, so they could go to museums, Central Park, etc., after. I was going to sing in church, so needed to be here, and the idea is that I would work during the 2-year-old's nap, and while letting him watch videos (which, as we learned yesterday, is not a great solution. But I digress). I did mention that we might wind up with the worst of all worlds. The three big kids would cause problems for my husband's professional event and I wouldn't get to work because the 2-year-old wouldn't follow his schedule. Anyway...

11:30 - 6:45 - slept. Miraculously, the 2-year-old did not cry out for anyone until the clock was green. I don't want to jinx things, but a few months ago, he didn't care about the clock. Now, he's been looking at books or playing. I have had so many hopes of progress on the sleep front dashed before, but we will see.

6:45- 7:30 - husband and 3 big kids got out the door and into the car.

7:30-8:45 - showered while 2-year-old watched videos (he's growing up!) Hair, dressed, got him ready, etc.

8:45-11:45 - church. The childcare situation for the 2-year-old was straightforward (which is why he's the one who stayed with me -- the older kids would have been more problematic without another adult, although the choir director told me that they are welcome to sit with me in the choir loft until the children's message). I took him to the nursery, and the childcare coordinator told me someone would walk him and the other 2-year-olds to their Sunday school class at 10. So my morning was chill: rehearsal 9-9:35-ish, chatted with other choir members, back to the choir loft at 9:50 for the prelude, sang during the service. I listened to the organ postlude, then retrieved my kid, and we played on the playground for 20 minutes or so (a plus of no siblings -- no one was whining to leave).

11:45- 1 - got 2-year-old lunch. Shortly after arriving home, my husband called with a wrinkle in the plans (it is a really, really long story), and he asked if the 2-year-old and I might take the 3:40 train into NYC to meet them. I said this had absolutely no chance of happening. After this, I let the 2-year-old watch a video, then attempted to put him down for a nap.

1-1:20 - no dice. No nap. The good news is that I ran my mile on the treadmill during this time. I ran a really fast mile (well, for me: 7:42) and when I finished, the kid was still howling. So I went back upstairs.

1:20-2:30 - decided we should try a walk outside, thinking he might fall asleep, but he was a step ahead on this one. I put him in his stroller for the first part of the journey, but once we reached a non-street path, he wanted to get out and push the stroller. And look at all the trees. We had some interesting conversations. Some of the trees were wrapped with wire at the bottom. After his queries, I suggested it might be to keep animals from pawing and nibbling at them (but I framed this as just a hypothesis, because I have no idea). He pondered this, and then I said it was like food packaging. He couldn't get his applesauce out of the squeeze packets until I took off the top, and maybe it was the same thing with the deer. He loved this concept. When we came home, I tried the nap again, but nope.

2:30-3:30 -- attempted to work while 2-year-old watched videos. He agreed to watch a TV show (22 whole minutes!) but he's been addicted to watching YouTube videos lately, and the problem is he gets bored with all of them 7 minutes in. So after an hour of working in 7 minute increments, I gave up.

3:30-4:30 -- Legos in the basement.

4:30- 5:30 -- played in the backyard. The tree climbing scares the (@#**(# out of me but with every tree, I made him demonstrate to me that he could climb back down, and he could. We picked some tomatoes, and cucumbers, and then played a game where each of us brought back a few leaves at a time to a pile while the other sat in a chair. I liked my turns in the chair. It was 75 degrees, and the September late afternoon light is now slanted, so it was quite lovely. I will say, though, that an hour of intense one-on-one time with a 2-year-old feels like 5 hours. I was somewhat surprised when we went back inside that only one hour had passed.

5:30-6:30-- more interrupted work while he watched videos. He was better at it this time, and I got some stuff done.

6:30-7 - played Legos in the basement. This ended when the giant tower we'd built fell on his head. Also, I think the sheer fatigue of having no nap had caught up with him.

7-7:15 - put 2-year-old to bed. (Stories, songs, etc.)

7:10-7:30 - made my dinner (salmon and cucumber/tomato/red onion/feta salad)

7:30 - 8 - posted this. I'll be doing a Facebook Live chat tomorrow around noon ET (Facebook.com/lauravanderkamauthor) if you want to tune in to hear my observations of the week. I plan to do a bit more work tonight, and then I assume the kids will be home pretty late and need to go straight to bed.

Photo: Cucumber salad, enlarged to show texture

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6 Responses to 168 Hours Time Tracking Challenge Day 7


  1. Tana says:

    So what you’ve posted here all week isn’t in the Excel format. Do you track your time like this and then fill in the Excel sheet? Or was all this description extra just for this week? I’m also interested to see how you tallied your hours for the week after reading your blog posts. This has been so interesting. Thanks so much!

    • @Tana – yes, I added the description for blogging purposes. My spreadsheets are more bare bones: play outside w/2-year-old. I didn’t write in the details of the game. But the funny thing is, when I look back on my logs, even the bare bones stuff often triggers more specific memories of what I’ve been doing.

  2. Cheryl Fewell-Brown says:

    So bummed I will miss your Facebook live. I will be driving to a physical therapy appt. I’m continuing for another week, I have already decided no computer time at all until lunchtime, but better yet evenings. I’m wasting an hour every morning while drinking coffee. Thanks Laura and I’m amazed at your 2 year old. I have a just turned 3 year old granddaughter and I have a hard time figuring out what she’s trying to tell me!

  3. Meghan says:

    Hope you were able to get more work done and get a good night’s sleep — hooray for the clock! It is amazing both how much better things go with just one kid at a time *and* how much slower they go. There’s probably something profound in there about taking things slowly, one thing at a time.
    I did track my entire week last week! I discovered that a really productive day is often followed by a really unproductive day — something I’ve long suspected. I worked for a solid four hours Monday (that doesn’t sound like a lot, but it was multiple hours in a row, which is unusual for me right now), and was useless Tuesday (no school, either). Same thing Thursday and Sunday — several long chunks of concentrated “deep work” (2 hours minimum) meant the next day I found it much harder to focus. I hope this will make planning my weeks easier, and I can stack admin/marketing work on those more scattered days.

    • liz says:

      I’m so glad you mentioned the productive day/slack day phenomenon– I thought it was just me! I tend to have 2 very long days per week– because of a bad commute, I’m at work for 12 hours/day two days/week, and churn through things. but then am useless the days after, when working from home.

  4. liz says:

    Thanks for inspiring me to track! My biggest insight of the week was that my son (7.5) doesn’t need me as actively as he used to. I clocked 40 hours of proximity to him, but only about 4.5 of engaging directly with him.

    On a related note, I have little to show for my mornings with him– I need to find more purposeful things to do while I periodically remind him to get dressed, brush teeth, etc… one morning I wrote a long email to a friend, which was satisfying.

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