The Challenge Wrap-Up Thread

We made it through! This morning my inbox is filling up with completed time logs. Having recorded our 168 hours, it’s time to reflect on them.

I went through this morning and calculated a few totals. Last week I worked 45:30 hours. To hit that, I did some work every single day, and had my husband take the kids for many hours on the weekend, worked into the evenings, etc.

I’ve been pondering why it is so hard for me to log many work hours, even when I seem to be working all the time.  Part of this is the sheer volume of kid care I’m doing. I’m still nursing, so there are breaks for that. I sometimes take time to walk J to school, plus my nanny had the day off on Friday, so that kept the total time available for work down. In the evenings, I start working and then a kid gets up. Plus, many nights J didn’t go down until 10. I just can’t work much after that, since S wakes up around 6.

Indeed, it turned out I really do have a full-time mommy job in addition to my full-time regular job. I spent 42:35 pretty actively with the kids.

I spent 12:30 on “pure” leisure (that is, chosen activities like volunteering, going to a show, going for a run) but I had many more hours of eating with my husband, reading before bed, showering, puttering, etc. And some of those kid hours could be leisure (the beach felt pretty leisurely).

Did I spend “enough” hours on different things? I did get close to 8 hours of sleep most nights. Even the night when I woke up at 3:45AM with the baby, I made up some of the time. I am trying to figure out how I can get more uninterrupted work hours, but the 45 hours I did work were enough to pitch and write a USA Today column, write two HuffPo columns (getting back going there after a 2-year hiatus), write a City Journal essay that’s due later this summer, run the 168 Hours Challenge, go to 3 events where I met interesting folks professionally, do 2 recorded radio/podcast interviews, pitch the book various places, etc. If I had more time, I would have done more speculative work such as writing fiction. Maybe. Or I would have checked email more — as I always say, if something is a priority, we find time to do it in the hours we have.

With the kids, those 42+ hours were enough to take several trips to the playground, get in some solo Jasper time (which I had to make time for, since the baby is needier right now), a beach trip, and lots of time playing dinosaurs on the floor. We did not watch much TV. I ran 21.5 miles. I met with the new president and treasurer for my choir and got the finances squared away.And I got to see Sleeping Beauty, the ballet, which was an exquisite way to spend my night “off.”

All in all it was a pretty good week. I’d love to hear what other people discovered. Feel free to weigh in here or on the Facebook page, or email me your thoughts if you’d like them to be more private.

And here’s a request for the 168 Hours Challengers. If you found it interesting to think about your time, please buy a copy of 168 Hours! You can visit various online retailers here. Or go to your local book store. And please tell your friends about the book as well. Word-of-mouth is what sells books these days, so I really need your help.

Links to other days

168 Hours Challenge Day 1

168 Hours Challenge Day 2

168 Hours Challenge Day 3

168 Hours Challenge Day 4

168 Hours Challenge Day 5

168 Hours Challenge Weekend Thread

168 Hours Challenge Wrap-up Thread

15 thoughts on “The Challenge Wrap-Up Thread

  1. The most surprising thing I learned was that I do actually get about 8 hours of sleep a night. It sure doesn’t feel like I’m getting enough sleep, but I’m not as sleep deprived as I thought.

    I also found that I am pretty mindful of my time. I’m making the choices I need to be making, which is heartening to know.

    I did find it depressing how much unpleasant childcare I do (feeding (even excluding cooking), discipline, safety, dealing with crying/whining) vs. fun childcare (playing, reading, talking, pleasant outings). I haven’t added up the numbers yet, but I do spend several hours a day on the unpleasant/physical aspects. Maybe that’s why 8 hours of sleep doesn’t feel like enough! 😉

  2. I am going to review my weekend hours and

    Putting in 5 to 10 hours on a weekend can really help.

    I got on a car from the Dallas airport to the Dallas rental car place at 9:30 p.m. on Father’s Day. All of the travelers were business travelers and I was the ONLY woman. And I think men are OK with this b/c we define Fatherhood still as earning while we ask women to juggle that in and still women are doing the majority of care.

    We need to be having this conversation. I recommend Laura’s book and also a book called Why Men Earn More, which Laura has written about. The premise being that women refuse to do the behaviors that allow them to earn more, get more career-wise, and in part this has to do with lack of support women have to leave their children while they go off and do what they need to do.

    Also, 12 hours of free time is not that much, so I think it’s fair for us as working moms of young children to say, at this stage in my life I must be highly scheduled, focused and I must accept that I will not for a few years have the kind of leisure that most people would prefer. Also I think working 45 hours might be enough even if you didn’t have young kids, and is very, very impressive for a mom of two young kids! Or any young kids! I struggle to hit 45 and don’t really feel like working 50 or 60. Any stats on diminishing returns?

  3. Cara – You hit the nail on the head. Laura’s book actually addresses diminishing returns on work. Check out Chapter 5 “Anatomy of a Breakthrough.”

    As for what I learned from this past week: I will have to be even more disciplined about making the best/most efficient time for work, now that kids are out of school for the summer. As much as having lazy days sounds appealing, if I can dedicate just a couple of hours a day to work, then I know that my summer will feel far more fulfilling when Labor Day rolls around.

  4. I learned that I spend about 3 times more time on my kids than I do at work. Since I work only 3 days/week, this is a good thing.

    I also think I need to try this on a different week as 15 hours this week were taken up with PT evaluations for my one year old.

    I, unlike probably most people never feel pressed for time. I viewed this as an exercise in how to be more efficient with the time I put into my work to get more done during those 20-24 hours/week. Ordinarily, I feel like I have too much time.

  5. Hi Laura: I received your book in the mail today. Thank you! I still haven’t tallied up my week but that’s my plan for tonight. I can already tell that I never realized how much time I spend nursing. After my totals are calculated, I think (very similar to you) that I don’t realize how much time I spend in my mom role. This has been a great exercise! I can’t wait to read the book.

    1. Yes, there was a high amount of mom time. I am brainstorming ways I can make my work time feel more focused and productive. I like working from home, but I may need to find another space from time to time, and make an effort to get out of the home office more often. And, well, the baby is 9 months and cutting teeth. The weaning will happen eventually!

  6. Oh the mom time! This exercise logged my son’s 2nd week and I spent 48.5 hours nursing plus 3 pumping. Add that to another 32 hours spent in more traditional childcare duties with my preschool daughter, and we’re looking at a big chunk of my week–yet, still not half of my 168 hours. I’m happy to have this evidence of my maternity leave. Yes, I only worked 4.5 hours this week, but my son gained a pound (important for a preemie!) and my daughter was read to for hours upon hours.
    The biggest thing I learned however, was how much I really like our family’s life and I was reminded how thankful I am for nearby grandparents who assist with childcare, driving, and all of the things that are hard to juggle at this stage in life. As I spend this upcoming week working on PhD applications, this exercise has encouraged me to rethink some of my plans and seek out alternative programs so we can stay in Southern California. For that realization, we all thank you!

  7. This was very useful – it confirmed to me, in black and white, that my week is completely unstructured and erratic. I get up at different times each day (way too late most days), because I feel so tired when I wake up and can’t resist hitting the snooze button. I shouldn’t feel so tired because I actually get lots of sleep, do much less work than I should, and don’t have children to tire me out!

    I’m sure that this lethargy is due to being so unstructured, lurching from one thing to the next without a plan of action. I spend far too long wasting time and procrastinating. I need to spend a set time working each weekday rather than leaving everything until the last minute and being unproductive. I would also like to spend more time reading, do more exercise, and cut down on the time spent watching tv.

    This project has made me determined to add some structure to my life – in fact I’m going to try to keep a regular time record from now on. Hopefully one day it will look much better!

  8. Hi,

    While I haven’t totaled my hours, one of the things I did notice is that I need to get up earlier…. I was most productive on getting my own personal stuff done when I woke up and stayed up at 4 am on Friday. Although, I was not as productive by the end of the day; I think that’s okay, especially if I spend that time with my kids relaxing…

    Just keeping a log for a week, has made me more aware of the time… and how long I spend on a task, i.e. I spent 4 hours today prepping meals for a couple of days etc.

    Also looking at a week in terms of 168 hours does not make me feel so bad if I spend 4 hours over the week on exercise or at the gym away from my kids…

    I will definitely keep a time log again…can’t wait to read the book. Thanks Laura.

  9. I learned that I have too much time on my hands, so I spend hours wasting away on the computer. I need to find things to fill my time that are productive and fun. (I do not have kids to take up 40+ hours of my life, unlike most of the people on here.)

  10. One thing I learned is that I don’t have more time than I think. I have less time than I think. I am always thinking that I will have plenty of time to do X or Y, and I never have enough.

    I chronically underestimate, maybe because of wishful thinking, how much time it will take me to go shopping or how much time it will take me to do some other household project such as hanging up light-blocking curtains. I am enabled in my chronic underestimation by my husband and boss, who don’t understand, and/or don’t believe that it takes me as long as it does, either.

    It tends to make me feel stressed out and bad about myself when things take me longer to do than I, or someone else, thinks they “should.” And then I spend time on stress-reducing but otherwise non-productive activities to cope with this stress.

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