I have been tracking my time for a great many years. One of the quirks of the calendar is that you wind up repeating the day-of-the-week cycle in less than 7 years (or longer than 7 years for some days). 2022 matches 2016. So just for fun, as I save my 2022 weekly logs on Monday morning (putting 2022 in the file name to distinguish them now!) I look at the 2016 ones.
The week of July 18 2016 came back to me pretty quickly as I looked at how I spent every half-hour of it. Highlights: It was the week I met and hired our previous nanny (who worked for us for 4.5 years). As she is still in our life regularly (we chatted about it this morning!), this is fun to see. I was up a *lot* with my high-energy toddler (then 18 months) who is now a high-energy and somewhat rebellious 7-year-old. During that week he decided to wake up one morning at 4:30 a.m. and not go back to sleep…this week he elected to make his stand on the hill of not bringing a white T-shirt to camp for some color war/tie dye thing they’re doing. Why????
I took him (the 18-month old who is now 7) to the Please Touch Museum for a morning, which is fascinating since I took my current 2-year-old there this past week as well. We drove to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware for an extended family week there — one of the few years we didn’t go to the Jersey shore for our summer beach trip. Apparently I went shopping on the boardwalk for an hour!
Then I went down a little mental rabbit hole…I can see my 2016 logs now from 2022. What if I could look at a week in 2022 from 2016? I guess my first big thought would have been “Who is this ‘H’ person who is everywhere on the log…?”
Anyway, I’m doing a recurring segment here called the TBT Scorecard. TBT is “Tranquility by Tuesday” — my book which will be out October 11. In the book, I share nine rules to help calm the chaos and make time for what matters. I had 150 people try them out for 9 weeks and their time satisfaction scores rose on my surveys to a high degree of statistical significance! I try to follow these rules in my own life because, hey, who couldn’t use more time satisfaction?
The week was chaotic as it often is. Childcare is still a patchwork, regular blog readers will recall the fiasco of my getting to my speech on Wednesday, and it was hot. So my planned big adventures for the weekend just sounded incredibly unpleasant. But some good stuff happened too. Here goes!
Rule #1: Give yourself a bedtime. I wasn’t asleep by 11 p.m. every night for sure. The time is definitely creeping later as I don’t have to set an alarm for 6:30 a.m. every morning (even if I am often up by then). But it was around 11:15 p.m. most nights. I’m usually at least close to my bed around 11!
Rule #2: Plan on Fridays. Yep. The upside of this is that I did a lot of preparation for this week’s video shoots (for the TBT In Real Life series). I have the logistics all ready, questions for everyone…I’m feeling slightly more confident about this week as a result, which is the point of this rule!
Rule #3: Move by 3 p.m. I ran in the morning 5 mornings this week. Tuesday morning was a regular run, and then Thursday and Friday I ran laps in the yard because I was the only adult around and felt I needed to stay close to the house (everyone was asleep). On Saturday morning I ran with my 15-year-old, who is home from camp! Here’s hoping he wants to do this more often, though the “morning” aspect may prevent it. For whatever reason, he was willing to get up at 7:45 a.m. on Saturday morning to beat the heat, and I am here for it. Sunday I did my “long” run (not that long since the heat had hit hard by 9 a.m.). On Monday I didn’t run but I walked all over the Please Touch Museum with my 2-year-old, so it’s not like I was sitting still. Wednesday featured four hours driving to and from northern New Jersey. So no walking by 3 p.m. that day. Oh well. I did walk around the neighborhood for 15 minutes at night when one of my older kids took the 2-year-old.
Rule #4: Three times a week is a habit. I have been focusing on running, piano, and family meals. I ran 5x (see above). I played the piano Monday night, Friday during the day when I had the house to myself, and for stints on Saturday and Sunday. The Sunday stint was cut short because I heard a loud snap right outside the window by the piano and noted that a giant tree branch had fallen. Luckily not toward the house! We had family dinner with the folks who were home Monday and Tuesday, and then with everyone on Saturday and Sunday (we were all home again!). I learned to use the gas grill, which turns out to be very simple, so that was exciting (we always had charcoal before, and that seemed like a lot of work). I have been trying to enforce sit-on-your-chair rules more with the dinners and I feel like there have been marginal improvements.
Rule #5: Create a back-up slot. I try to leave Fridays fairly open in general. One corollary to creating a back-up slot is creating back-up plans. I can’t say I had great back-up weekend plans but I did get my Wednesday morning crash course in thinking through my options when the original transportation to the speech didn’t work out. I wound up driving (and the talk shifting 30 minutes later) but we also talked through the possibility of doing the talk virtually.
Rule #6: One big adventure, one little adventure. I’m not sure anything rose to the level of “big adventure” but I did several littler ones. The 2-year-old and I spent the morning at the Please Touch Museum on Monday. I saw my 10-year-old perform in Seussical (her camp play). We had a sitter Friday night in the hopes of doing a date night, and then realized that we needed to pick up the 15-year-old at camp Friday night instead of Saturday morning. My husband had been in London, so he flew to Boston on Friday instead of Philly, and then he took Uber to Providence and they took the train home. Since I had the sitter, I roamed the King of Prussia mall, thinking I would get a new outfit or two for the videos this week. I completely struck out. Like, nothing looked good to me. I am suddenly old and ornery about clothes, but I hadn’t been to KOP mall to shop in ages (since pre-pandemic, maybe?) so I guess that was an adventure. I took my daughter to a farmers market on Saturday AM and we had lunch based on what I bought (bread, a tomato spread, peaches). The tomatoes in the picture are from there, though we got our first tomatoes from our garden this weekend!
Rule #7: Take one night for you. I guess the Friday night mall trip would qualify? I took myself out for dinner, though it was just a burrito at the food court. If I’d known how badly I would strike out on clothes, maybe I would have made myself a solo reservation somewhere fancy instead.
Rule #8: Batch the little things. I created my Friday punch list as usual and worked through it. Given the driving situation (I’m doing most of the camp driving) my work hours are pretty curtailed, so I’m trying to preserve the bigger blocks of time for deeper work. I can fill out forms at night if need be.
Rule #9: Effortful before effortless. A mixed bag. I spent way too much time scrolling as usual. However, I read Much Ado About Nothing in the Shakespeare project. I’ve been reading The Economist at night rather than scrolling — we have several back issues sitting around that I never got through when they came so the stack is slowly dwindling. I went and sat in the hammock a few times during nap or after toddler bedtime or when he was gone; I even intentionally set a timer to make sure I stayed out there for at least 10 minutes without looking at my phone. And a summer-specific form of effortful fun: I’ve been taking some of the kids out to go chase fireflies at night. They’re pretty magnificent in the yard at twilight, so rather than all of us on our screens, we go out and run around.
10 thoughts on “TBT Scorecard: Little adventures, if not big ones”
Reading these always calms me down. I love seeing these categorized summaries of your week and how you’re willing to use your life as a case study in how we can/should a) make time for things that are important and b) pay attention to what we’ve done (for example: making note of your time spent on the hammock). I know you’ve been preaching this message for a long time, but there really ARE a lot of hours in a week and I think sometimes we have actually fit a lot in, we just haven’t categorized/tracked it properly (and now you’re giving readers 9 specific buckets).
After a busy few weeks of renovations and 2+ months of life feeling decidedly off-kilter, this was just the blog post I needed to read.
@Elisabeth – thank you so much! I really appreciate it. I’m trying to fit in the things I want to do – it’s always a work in progress 🙂
@ Elizabeth – I agree with you! I think the paying attention to what we have done is one of the big lessons I am trying to learn from Laura’s work. Otherwise the narrative of I’ve accomplished nothing-I have no time fills my head, which isn’t true.
We’re headed to the Jersey shore for the first time ever this weekend! Any recommendations? Wondering about your family’s favorite ice cream place
@Maura – we go to Days’ Ice Cream in Ocean Grove – it’s the northern end of the Jersey shore, just south of Asbury Park.
Laura, I love your TBT posts. I went back in the archives to see how they started (am I the only person who uses the tags to find content?) and found the original post on Catherine, here:https://lauravanderkam.com/2019/10/tranquility-by-tuesday-time-blocking-back-up-slots-and-big-questions/
I’d love to know how she’s doing life now – if there’s an update to her work schedule, homeschooling more or less, etc!
@AS – Thanks! I’ll have to check in with her. I was certainly kicking around the phrase “Tranquility by Tuesday” the summer before (2019) and then I started doing time makeovers that fall to hone which rules I wanted to turn into the canonical nine. This book has been a long time in the making…
Oh I feel you on the clothes! I’m in my 30s but I can’t find a good pair of dark wash jeans with no holes that aren’t super high rise that fit and it’s making me crazy!!! The low rise skinny jean was my sweet spot haha.
@Jenn N – I mean, even dresses had like…holes in the middle. At Nordstrom! Who is buying this stuff??
Do you know when Tranquility by Tuesday is going to be published in the UK please Laura? I’d really like to pre-order it here.