I began tracking my time continuously in late April of 2015. That puts me at 2.5 years in another week or so. I have learned a lot from recording what I’m doing in half hour blocks, but what’s equally interesting to me is how this process has changed how I see time.
One key discovery: the pace and shape of a week. I start my weekly logs at 5 a.m. Monday. That doesn’t mean I’m up at 5 a.m. Monday, but that’s what I consider the start of the week. If that is the start of my 168 hours, guess where the halfway mark falls?
5 p.m. Thursday.
To me, 5 p.m. Thursday has always sounded kind of like the end of the week. But it is not. It is the halfway mark. And yes, with this division, the second half of the week features a bit more sleeping time than the first half (roughly 6 hours or so, if I’m in bed at 11 p.m. Sunday night), so it’s not the exact halfway mark for waking hours, but even if you worked that in, the halfway mark is at some point on Thursday. It is not on Wednesday, which is what we often think of as midway through the week.
Because I record my time on spreadsheets, I can see, visually, where that halfway mark is. And I often see that while 5 a.m. Monday – 5 p.m. Thursday features quite a bit of work, 5 p.m. Thursday- 5 a.m. Monday generally does not. I see this looking at other people’s time logs too. Whatever their “balance” is, Monday-Thursday, it’s probably different Thursday-Sunday, and to some degree the balances might balance each other. Particularly for people who work long hours or travel Monday through end-of-day Thursday, this can be a very helpful mindset shift.
But it’s not just about feeling better about time. If I know that there is just as much time after 5 p.m. Thursday as there is before, I feel more compelled to think about how I want to spend that sheer volume of hours. Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday is four evenings! If I did something all four evenings, that would happen on the majority of days of the week! People naturally put a lot of thought into what they do Monday through end-of-day Thursday because they tend to work during these hours, and work naturally lends itself to planning and organization. Leisure time, less so. Of course, no one wants to plan every minute of the weekend (or Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings) but there is a huge space between planning nothing and planning every minute. This is a false choice.
And so, seeing this big block of time nudges me to be mindful of it, and ask what I’d like to do. Being mindful helps expand time. I’m not just aware of my time Monday through Thursday, I’m aware of the other time too, and that makes me feel like time is more vast.
So…what do you have in store for the second half of the week?
Photos: I gave a speech in NJ this morning, and planned to do something else out there this afternoon, but then the second thing fell through. So I had open time. I came back and went to Valley Forge National Park. I biked around the 5.3 mile loop, and enjoyed the scenery so much I then ran the 5.3 mile loop immediately afterward! I loved these reproductions of Washington’s troops’ huts, and then the autumnal wild flowers.
10 thoughts on “The midway point of the week”
It was great listening to you this morning. I am looking forward to reading your book this weekend. I was hoping to find your spreadsheet on your site to see how I can utilize it to my advantage because I am so busy 🙂 Thanks again for the great tips you shared this morning!
@Gladys – thanks so much for coming to my talk! I’m glad you could be there!
Thank you so much for today’s post. You have articulated very clearly what I was vaguely getting a hang of after participating in the time tracking challenge recently. The challenge per se helped me to be very mindful of the time. Believe me, I have tried many type of time tracking, but 15 minute intervals – I was doing it for the first time. And here it was – being mindful of every 15 min slot and the first half of the week(till Wed!!) vs rest of the week. When you point out the middle of the week happens on a Thu – I am able to make out how much of time is being ‘lost’ thinking it is leisure. Thanks again
@Krishna- thanks! Leisure is great, but we can’t be completely mindless about leisure, or otherwise this time doesn’t seem to be as vast as equal quantities of time spent on things like work.
Ever since I read your ebook about weekends, I’ve been more mindful about planning anchor events, which has made for more fun.
This weekend, My husband is taking the kids to visit his family on Saturday, so I’m looking forward to having an extra day to catch up on work and stuff.
On Sunday we’ll have a family celebration for my daughter’s 4th birthday on Monday with a trip to Linvilla and dinner at my parents’ house.
@Elizabeth- that sounds like a great weekend, with lots of space for different things!
I love this idea. I usually plan my week out on Fridays, but I think shifting to Thursday would be even more productive. I review my plans again Sunday night so that I have my act together.
Thanks for this new tip. I’m a big L. V. fan!
You are so right! I’ve been tracking my time since your challenge in September. This week and last week especially I’ve had very little time to myself Monday through Thursday but then I seem to make up for it on the weekend. When I tally my hours at the end of the week, it isn’t so bad as I thought. I’m not as likely to start feeling deprived because I know there’s still time. I’m also seeing patterns that help me plan better. For instance, on Friday we clean the house, on Thursday I run errands so we’re out of the house more than usual. This week it occurred to me that if I tidy the house on Wednesday (something that always bogs down cleaning on Friday), I’m so much more relaxed for the weekend because I have a clean slate to work from (groceries stocked, house clean, etc.). I think I’ve found a great new routine.
I got to thinking about this and am currently in a debate with myself on how to best utilize this information. The process now is to mostly let housework and laundry fill up Friday and Saturday. My housekeeper comes Friday and then I end up completing some sort of housework project as well. I have not found the perfect housekeeper situation, but I live in a very rural area. It’s probably not going to happen. Since the bulk of my work takes place. Mon-Fri, do I continue this path to keep those days less hectic or do I try to complete a little each day and make my weekends truly free. Hmm. May have to play with this a bit.
Great post and a good reminder. I really liked these lines, “being mindful helps expand time… and that makes me feel like time is more vast.”