In late April last year, inspired by the time logs in I Know How She Does It, I decided to start tracking my time continuously. I am still at it now, just shy of a year later. Since the goal was to get through a year — normally 8760 hours, but 8784 hours with the leap year — I am almost there. I printed up most of the logs this morning and started what will be the last full week I need to record for this experiment.
It has not been onerous. I take a minute or two a few times a day to write down what I have been doing. It is fairly high-level: work or read or kids or clean up, that sort of thing. While part of me wishes I had been more detailed on my work entries, so I could figure out how much time I spent in my inbox, or on the phone, or working on my blog, any time-keeper inevitably faces the tension between capturing details and not turning time-keeping into its own huge time suck.
I will be doing the full analysis of my year soon (and because it is my own naval-gazing blog, I will post the results!) But as I printed up the logs this morning, I could already see a few things.
First, my baby slept pretty well in April last year. He got worse as he got older. There were some fairly atrocious stretches within these time logs. The spreadsheet format makes that clear. I can see night after night of being up in the middle of the night, often multiple times. On some level, I am surprised it was as productive a year as it was. I think I have been doing a lot of muddling through in something of a haze. Thankfully, all of this has gotten better in the last 2-3 months. This lifting haze explains why I have been relishing my sleep of late.
Part of the relishing: an early bedtime. I have convinced myself that going to bed early is how grown ups sleep in. I have been able to convince myself of this because I have also noted that I am seldom doing much of consequence before bed. If I am busy I will work, but the work ebbs and flows. I fill my late night puttering time with magazine reading. It is my equivalent of TV. I should start reading some better literature. Some of the magazine fare is interesting but I do not need to read another story on how air popped popcorn is the perfect low calorie snack.
There was a lot of breastfeeding and pumping over the year. I have just finished this, which in its own way is momentous. I have been pregnant or breastfeeding for the vast majority of the past decade. While the end of that might be a cause for melancholy, I am also intrigued to think that I am starting a new chapter of my life.
Overall, though, two things strike me as the key takeaways. First: how much space there is in my life. In theory, I am busy. A quick glance at my logs reminds me of the sheer volume of travel this year has entailed. Then there are the four kids, and their associated activities. But the busyness ebbs and flows too, and the nature of writing is that it requires open space for thinking and creating. I have been pretty good over this past year at making sure that space still exists. Maybe not as much as I want. But it is there.
Second, even as there is space, I have an amazing and full life. The logs make me grateful for that. There is the professional stuff, which has been fun, but I enjoy seeing what we have done as a family too. My kids went to Disney World and Disneyland in one year! They went to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago and Six Flags outside Washington DC. They saw the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. Whenever I worry that they spend too much time playing video games, I am going to remind myself of the sheer volume of experiences they have had in their young lives. I think it will turn out OK.