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.