Make time this Tuesday! (Plus the TBT scorecard)

I am really enjoying reading all the responses to my question of what people would do if an hour opened up on a Tuesday afternoon (see Friday’s post). Please keep them coming!

A few folks pointed out that this question seems surprisingly similar to a Real Simple article I have talked about for years. Back in 2007 or so, the magazine asked busy readers to write in about what they’d do if they found an extra 15 minutes in their day. My favorite response was from a woman who wrote that 15 minutes of uninterrupted writing time would be a priceless gift. This left me wondering where she found 15 minutes to read Real Simple and write in a letter about this elusive dream.

(Fun fact: This person later picked up a copy of 168 Hours, found reading my joke about her letter a bit jarring, but still reviewed the book nicely!)

The truth is, even the busiest folks have some free time. It might be hard to predict, and sometimes we might need to take an extra logistical step or two to open up possibilities, but the time is most likely there.

However, many of us have a hard time seizing available time for high quality pursuits. The upside of this question — what you would do if an hour opened up on a Tuesday afternoon — is that it nudges people to zero in on exactly what they enjoy doing, and may do some, but feel like they don’t do often enough.

(Well, except for the very honest commenters who noted that they would probably work more or scroll around online!)

So, if you’ve come up with a non-laundry, non-Facebook response to this question, there is a logical next step: Figure out how you can actually take an extra hour for this pursuit!

I’m posting this on a Monday, so tomorrow is Tuesday. Can you plan your afternoon tomorrow to spend an hour doing whatever you chose? What would need to happen for you to make this happen?

Some of us with work flexibility might be able to pull this off without too much trouble, especially if the chosen activity was something like going for a walk, sewing, or reading (or taking a nap!). If the activity involves someone else, that might be more challenging, but if you wanted to call a friend, and you texted her tonight to ask when tomorrow afternoon might work, you might find a mutually agreeable time.

Some people are no doubt booked up solid tomorrow afternoon, or have jobs that don’t allow for moving things around. Some other readers are probably caring for small kids tomorrow afternoon, and so can’t necessarily high-tail it, solo, to the beach. But as you look forward to the next week or so, is there a time you could make this happen? What logistics would you need to work out? If not in the next week, how about the next month?

Hopefully folks will make time soon for whatever they’d do when an hour opened up on Tuesday afternoon. And once you make it happen, that can feel good enough that you become motivated to make it a regular part of your life. And that can feel very good indeed!

TBT Scorecard: As mentioned last week, in advance of Tranquility by Tuesday coming out this fall, I’m grading myself on how I did on the nine TBT rules. I probably won’t post this scorecard every week but it provides a fun rubric for analyzing my time logs.

Last week (April 25-May 1), I was in bed by 11 p.m. six out of the seven nights. On Saturday night I didn’t get into bed until 12:30 a.m. because my high schooler had been traveling to the state Science Olympiad, and his bus got into the high school parking lot at midnight. My husband normally takes on late night teen/pre-teen pick-ups (he keeps later hours than me) but he was running the Broad Street 10-miler on Sunday morning and needed to get up around 6:30 a.m. So I took one for the team there.

I planned on Friday as always. I walked or ran before 3 p.m. every day (mostly walking — I ran on the 2 weekend days, but I’m trying to bump this number up this week as my legs are feeling better). I played the piano three times a week, but sang zero! Choir practice was canceled Thursday and then I didn’t wind up going to church Sunday AM because I had to drive everyone around with my husband gone at Broad Street. Also, I only ran twice. We sort of had two family meals — it was a busy week. If you count meals minus the high schooler (who was gone all Friday and Saturday), then we had more.

(I tend to leave Friday mostly open as my back-up slot and that was true this week too.)

I definitely had one big adventure and one little adventure. Maybe more! On Monday, I took a solo trip to Holland Ridge Farms to pick tulips. It was fun to go with the kids two weeks ago, but we kind of zoomed in and out. Since I had bought a pack of flex tickets, I could go whenever, so I went on my own. I was gone about 3.5 hours. I practiced my speech in the car both ways, so 2 of those hours were, in fact, work time. The tulips were beautiful and it was nice to go when the place wasn’t crowded. Second adventure: I went into NYC on Wednesday-Thursday. I took the train and stayed at a hotel like pre-Covid times! I met a friend for dinner at a French restaurant on Wednesday night and then gave a speech for an event at the Harvard Club in mid-town on Thursday morning. As for little adventures, there were many potential things — a few social get-togethers (we had two different families over to our house this weekend at different times), and my husband and I went to the fundraising gala for the preschool where we will be sending our FIFTH KID next year.

Continuing…I normally consider choir practice to fulfill the “Take one night for you” rule, but since that was canceled, we could count other things, like my dinner in NYC. I ran with a friend on Saturday morning. My husband and I also decided to explicitly divvy up the weekend hours when we were in charge of the 2-year-old, but I mostly used that for work.

I batched the little things on Friday; like planning, my Friday punch list is a habit at this point. As for effortful before effortless…this is still a work in progress. So much scrolling around… In my defense, a lot of my “reading” mental energy was taken up with proofreading the current layout of TBT. Plus finishing Hamlet. I did listen to Appalachian Spring in the car several times instead of random stuff. Maybe I need to go dig a 1000-piece puzzle out of the garage. Or buy a spring one…

3 thoughts on “Make time this Tuesday! (Plus the TBT scorecard)

  1. This concept of ‘finding an hour’ is why I have loved working from home. It is so much easier for me to to shift things around to make time for running, working out, getting coffee with a friend, etc. I’m in the office Tues-Thur and we have to leave the house around 6:50 and get home around 5 and I don’t have much flexibility when at work. My husband does workout during the day when his workload allows but it’s so much easier for him to get ready after working out – it would take way too much time for me to get ready again if I worked out mid-day. So my solution is to leave work at 3pm on Thursdays to get a workout in. Otherwise 0 workouts happen Tues-Thur, besides going for a long skyway walk around lunch time to stretch my legs. But today I worked from home so did a quick 30 minute cardio workout at 7 after everyone left and then met a neighbor for a walk at lunchtime. With time I am hoping I can shift to working in the office 2 days/week instead of 3 but we’ll see how things shake out.

  2. First, I am very excited for this book to come out! I am fortunate to have a lot of flexibility in my schedule and can easily find an hour on a Tuesday afternoon. However, I have found that I don’t spend my time in meaningful ways. Time tracking, creating a list of 100 dreams, and quarterly goals have helped me focus on spending my time wisely and doing things that are meaningful to me. I’ve also found that when I’m with my children whether it’s playing, talking or helping with homework it’s easier for me to be fully present because I know that I have the time to do so.

  3. Yes I agree with Lisa about WFH. Before the pandemic forced me into it (I am a commercial property lawyer in the UK) I would never have believed it even possible and yet now I am far more productive on the 3/4 days I WFH than the 1/2 per week I am in the office. And, for example, my parents live next door to us but I still don’t see as much as I would like of them. But on Wednesdays my Dad (nearly 83) goes to bowls and I have a regular date to go with my Mum for an hour’s dog walk at lunchtime. Dad gets to do bowls without being too tired from walking the dog as well, Mum gets company on the walk (she wouldn’t want to go alone and we wouldn’t want her to, just in case) and I get a walk and an hour one to one with my 82.5 year old mother. I could never have done this while trekking to the office every day!

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