If You Had A 2-Hour Workday…

I’m home with Sam (19 months) today, and we’re having a fun time. There was a zoo trip and shopping — I’ll let you figure out which one of us chose which as our morning activity. There are many upsides to self-employment, and one of them is that I didn’t have to ask anyone’s permission to take today off.

On the other hand, there are downsides, too. Because it’s almost impossible to actually take a day off — you can’t put in for vacation and then ask your co-workers to cover for you. So on days like today, I become a nap time warrior. I made a prioritized list of things that 100% Must Be Done Today. As soon as Sam started rubbing his eyes at 12:45, I was off to the races. This blog post was pretty low down the list, given that it is 2:45 and he’s going to be up any minute.

This would drive me nuts to try to work like this most days (with a swing shift from 9-11PM too, I imagine), though I know people who do it. This is how some folks manage to put in a 20-25 hour workweek with no childcare whatsoever. But even if you do have childcare (and we usually do) it’s always a good exercise to think through in the context of prioritizing our work days. If you only had two hours to work — either because you’re home with pre-school aged kids, or you’ve got an all-day meeting coming up, or are leaving on vacation — what would you choose to do? How quickly could you zoom through the list?

Perhaps more tellingly, what would fall off the list? Could this fall off forever? Or would it just fall off because it’s not urgent (even if it is important)? What would you do on a 2-hour workday?

6 thoughts on “If You Had A 2-Hour Workday…

  1. I have been prioritizing like this the past week, as both my kids were off and though there was still a lot to do, being with them was my top priority. As you did, I concentrated on ‘what really needs to be done now’ and only did that. Gone was Facebook, and emails that didn’t relate to the track team registration that I am focusing on. TV dropped off, though I did watch a movie (and crochet). I sent my husband on errands so I could bake. I decided to go to Target instead of making separate stops at the shoe/clothing/food stores, so we’d have more time for fun today. I forgot how much I can get done when I really try force myself to stay on task. (I only lost focus once, when I clicked on your link to Happiest Mom, but bookmarked it, and saved it for another day)

  2. I was laid off earlier this year and have kept childcare 2 days a week to focus on freelancing and job searching. As I’m picking up more freelance work, I’m finding that I’m falling into this “2-hour workday” category on the days I have my daughter. (Luckily, my 18-month-old often takes 3+-hour naps!) I try to also put in some work time in the evening, but I’m often too tired to get much accomplished and end up sitting in front of the computer wasting time. I’m also having trouble finding the time for myself to unwind, which I really need. The flexibility is great, and I’m loving spending more time with my daughter, but there’s a lot of financial pressure to make ends meet, so I feel like I have to work on work and the job search with any free time I can find. I’d love to hear from others about how you manage this type of schedule. Prioritizing is great, but the naptime “beat-the-clock” rush to get things done can be stressful as well, especially when the kitchen is a mess from lunch, toys are everywhere, etc.

    1. @Amy-
      I imagine it is stressful. One day was about all I could take, and clearly I had to put off anything truly time consuming until the future. I guess the best way to give yourself more time without paying for more childcare would be to try to trade off with other people — if you have friends with kids of similar ages who are home with the kids, you could each give each other a morning off. Or there might be a cheap afternoon option with a teenager who’s out of school at 3pm or so that would give you a concentrated stretch from 1-5 (nap, plus a few hours after). But yes, lunch dishes cannot be done during nap time — that’s too precious!

  3. Laura…You read my mind! I’ve been thinking of reaching out to moms in the neighborhood for some swapping. I guess that’s the next step. I love your blog, btw. thanks!

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