The 168 Hours Challenge Wrap-Up Thread

I hope everyone is having a wonderful Monday. Our 168 hours of time-logging is officially over. I still need to go through and tally up my totals in different categories, but here are my thoughts on the experience.

First, it was a great week, professionally and personally. Because I knew my logs would be public, I planned to make it a great week. And so it was. Key take-away: planning out big goals for our 168 hours makes it more likely that they will happen. Some highlights of things that went well:

  • 168 Hours publicity: One of my major goals for 2010 is to bring this book to a wide audience. During this 168 hours, I did 3 radio interviews, 2 print interviews (Our Sunday Visitor and the Chicago Tribune), and was featured on several blogs, including Men with Pens, The Happiness Project, and The Huffington Post (the latter being my own post). I also gave a speech at In Good Company.
  • Getting another book deal: A second major goal for 2010. Done! And after a bit of trepidation about what I thought was the project’s direction, it is now clarified, and I am quite excited about it. The idea is to do for money what 168 Hours does for time.
  • Novel writing: Last Sunday, pre-challenge, I had dug a manuscript out of that metaphorical drawer (actually, it was on my computer) and read it. After 5 years, you see things with fresh eyes. The manuscript needs some work, but I carved out a few of my 168 hours to work on it, and I feel confident that I will be able to show people the manuscript by the end of the year (my third major professional goal for 2010).
  • Running: I ran five times. I also signed up for a half-marathon in Philly in November to give me the motivation to run longer distances (and it worked, I ran 5 miles for the first time in a month on Saturday). I did rather long walks on the days I didn’t run.
  • Choir: I had rehearsal this week, and have been helping with the transition to a new leadership team (which included attending a meeting post-rehearsal).
  • Family: In my Happiness Project interview, I noted that I too often play it safe with the kids, hanging out in the house rather than going somewhere and risking an art museum melt-down or a subway diaper explosion. This week I tried to be better about this. I took the kids to our building end-of-summer party on Thursday, and they liked getting balloon animals, even if we weren’t there long. I took Sam to the art museum on Friday. We went apple picking and to the zoo this weekend. I walked Jasper to school in the mornings, and tried to spend time playing.

Looking back on this, it seems like a busy week, though the funny part is that there were still many open spaces. There were long patches during my workdays when I wasn’t particularly focused, and I probably could have fit more in if I wished. Or maybe I need this indolent time (though I should get better about recognizing it for what it is). There were also some challenges:

  • I get distracted very easily during my work hours. Partly this is the availability of email/web distractions. I am more focused if I shut down my browser and turn off my iPhone and force myself to stick with the task at hand.
  • Bedtime is a battle. With both children. They just don’t need as much sleep as many children their age, and so I have very little personal time in the evenings. I also need to get to bed on time, as they wake up early. I am not a morning person. While my time logs show I get 7-8 hours of sleep per night, I would really prefer to go to bed later and wake up later.
  • Very little adult time with my husband. Partly this is because he was gone most of the week, which is its own challenge.
  • Blocks of time: My nanny starts work at 8, and Jasper has to be at school at 9. Unfortunately, it is hard to do something meaningful in the 45-minute block I have from 8:00-8:45. I did run some mornings, but it makes for a rushed time, and so I may have to rethink this.

I’m curious to learn what other people discovered through this exercise of logging time. Did you discover habits that you like or don’t like? Did being aware of your time help you make space for things that have been lingering on the to-do list for too long? Did you fill your 168 hours with things you enjoyed? Please let me know!

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


6 thoughts on “The 168 Hours Challenge Wrap-Up Thread


    Here’s my Sunday schedule

    wake up make coffee/hot chocolate, read for 45 minutes
    finish a book!!! — hardly ever do this so would like it to happen more (unbending gender about version of feminism that is more about women’s right to work and everyones right to family time and a reworked feminism that is more about this than say the oppression of dominance or eroticism of dominance… like this new feminism, very 30-something working parent… Note to self: would like to read .. not sure how much or ilke when if it is better to say like two or three hours on a sunday night or maybe like a half hour before bed.. I often cannot stay awake for a half hour of it before bed… I think non fiction is great for books on tape but great fiction looses something on tape but am willing to try

    finish reding, o up at 8:30 play breakfast decide to push for everyone to go apple picking together …
    apple farm trip, very fun, hay rides, see sheep and o takes pony ride, spend too much supporting local agriculture! Get some free apples in there

    2 pm arrive home (note to self – this type of family activity seems better for the couple and more fun that a more scheduled date night of dinner and a movie
    play outside in yard,

    eat lunch, go to story hour at library

    story hour cancelled play on children’s floor at library, get some books on tape, leave library at 5, go home play outside, at 6:15 say enough and put o in front of tv for half an hour for dinner
    lay on bed feel baby move
    send o to church with daddy and grandma … lay on bed and watch soap opera episdoes eat chocolate… mean to walk on treadmill but feel tired and felt great to put feet up and feel baby move.. And just relax.. Will see aboutdoing yoga or something after soap… or work depending on how reseted i feel and how everyone arrives home from church — note to self.. I am much better working out in the morning ..
    watch soap until 8:30, o comes home (not asleep, play with her until 9:30 cuddle put her to bed) go to bed about 10:15 to 10:30, sent a few invoices while watching soap

  2. OK, after kind of thinking about it last challenge, I printed the spreadsheet & filled in the entire thing. I had lots to get done, but enough time to get to it without stressing. Writing my minutes down did make me more aware of potential wasted time (read “internet surfing”!) and I did curtail this activity more than usual. Very revealing… thanks for the push to give time management serious thought!

    1. Isn’t that great, to realize we do have time to get it all done? I realize that I waste a lot of time, and yet can still get to most things that are important to me. I’m glad the challenge helped you realize where the time was going and that we can choose how to spend it!

  3. Scheduling and planning are two things that I have learnt over the last week and in my current week. Although, I am not logging my hours in a spreadsheet this week, I am definitely more aware of the time as it passes and my actions…. planned time is time better used! The other thing that I learnt as I read 168 hours is that you need to commit to yourself on how you will spend the time you have scheduled/planned and not be distracted by others etc. Something, I definitely need to work on….

  4. I totally fell off the wagon after deciding to go with the online spreadsheet time log, then hitting several days in a row where I was out and about and not online enough to log what I did immediately after doing it. What did I learn from this? That you forget how you spent your time very quickly if you don’t keep a running tab on it! Another thing I learned was what a toll extended, uninterrupted computer use takes on me physically and mentally, and how much better I feel in terms of general well-being, alertness, and energy on days when I have to be out and about too much to get to any of the many things I need a computer to do. My extreme reluctance to go online on the Sunday of the challenge week just to do the time log when there was nothing else I really needed to do online, after feeling so GOOD as a result of having no spare time to go online at all on Saturday, really brought this home to me. Not sure what to do about it, though, besides make a conscious effort to mix it up a little more on days when that’s an option, so I don’t get computer burnout. I also was reminded that I REALLY hate notebook paper! When I realized the online time log was becoming impracticable over long stretches of time when I couldn’t be online, I thought I’d try a notebook instead, having already found my handwriting too large for the spreadsheet printout. Bad idea! I haven’t touched notebook paper since I was in college, because those lines make me feel so imprisoned I can’t think freely, and this attempt confirmed that’s still the case. Probably some people don’t even notice what kind of paper or pens they’re writing with, but if your writing surface and implements do affect you do, it’s probably better to pay attention and accommodate that than waste time being held back by something so easy to change. So in the end I fell back on my Manhattan Diary, which I highly recommend to anyone who a) likes to write on unlined, good-quality paper b) likes a weekly planner with 1 week spread across 2 pages c) likes to have everything you could possibly need to know about NYC in one pocket-sized place but doesn’t want to spend their whole life fiddling with an iPhone. I don’t write appointments in it, only my to-do lists for each day, so this has been a wonderful tool for me in learning just how wildly off my estimates are of how much I can get done in one day, as I find myself carrying things forward from day to day and week to week, or even month to month! Which sounds discouraging, but actually, when I take time out every couple of weeks to flip backwards through it for several months to see what else I haven’t done yet, I’m usually encouraged to discover how many things I can check off, because in fact I do get around to doing most things I want to do eventually–just nowhere near the time when I first planned to do them. So it’s not my dreams of what I want to do and can do that are unrealistic, it’s just my estimates of how long it will take me to do them that are way off, and this is something I would never have realized without keeping track of all my goals and to-do lists in a format that allows me to review a whole week’s, month’s, or year’s worth in one compact place.

  5. Forgot to mention that the Manhattan Diary’s small enough that I always carry it with me, so whenever I have a few spare minutes on the subway, waiting in line, etc., I can put them to good use reviewing my current goals, planning ahead for future goals, checking off past goals, etc. Now I just have to figure out some means of cramming my 100 Dreams list for October in there too…

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