Today’s Before Breakfast episode is called “Review the week that was.” In it, I talk about my Monday morning ritual of looking over the previous week’s time logs.
Longtime readers know that I’ve been tracking my time on weekly spreadsheets for approximately 6.5 years. That’s well over 300 weekly logs. I analyzed the first few quite closely, but after a while, they began serving more of a journal function than anything else (I’m not immediately adding up how much time I spend on, say, housework or driving each week). Since the week goes Monday at 5:00 a.m. to Sunday (well, really Monday morning) at 4:30 a.m., I’d generally finish the previous week’s log when I sat down at my desk on Monday morning and then archive it. Then I’d open a new, blank one.
I was doing this in a cursory fashion until recently, when I realized that I could do this ritual more mindfully. Life is a circus here, but on the other hand, we have a lot of good systems, and I’m making a lot of conscious choices about my time. It’s good to take a moment on Monday morning to reflect on everything that happened in the previous week. If nothing else, it’s good to see if I’m following the Tranquility by Tuesday rules whose adoption corresponded with statistically significant boosts in time satisfaction for other people! Am I going to bed at close to the same time most nights? Am I running, and having family meals, at least three times per week each? (“Three times a week is a habit.”) Am I having one big adventure and one little adventure? (Or more?)
This past week was really good for all that. I did my editing retreat in Cape May, which meant I did two walks on some birding trails, and ran on the beach twice. My husband and I did our long-planned double art museum date night on Friday — we made it to the Barnes and the Philadelphia Art Museum and even squeezed in a quick sushi stop after. We had a family waffle breakfast on Sunday and then drove to Hawk Mountain to hike in the pretty fall leaves. By planning this ahead, we knew to get up on time to fit the trip and the hike in before the kid activities began at 2 p.m.
All of this served to make time feel rich and full. Indeed, it felt so expansive that I was trying to even think back to the beginning of the week when I took one kid to a try-it-out fencing class (he likes it…so that will be his new physical activity now that baseball is ending for the season). That seemed like ages ago. It is all a reminder of how vast 168 hours can be.
Anyway, I know most people don’t keep time logs (though it’s worth trying!). However, most people do have calendars, and some have planners, or journals, or other such record keeping materials. It might be worth building a few minutes into the schedule early each week to reflect on the week that was. Hopefully it will be a moment for gratitude — reminding yourself how much you accomplished, and of the fun you had. But if it wasn’t a great week, then the reflection can serve a more practical purpose. What could change? Maybe some things can’t, but if some things can, that’s helpful to know.
Time keeps passing one way or another. Reviewing the week that was lets us pause as the water goes under the bridge. It’s waving it on its way, thanking the time for what it gave, rather than having it disappear, unacknowledged, into the past.