It’s Monday, so it’s time for another TBT scorecard!
For any new readers here wondering what a “TBT scorecard” might be: I wrote a book called Tranquility by Tuesday: 9 Ways to Calm the Chaos and Make Time for What Matters. It will be published on October 11th. The book is comprised of nine rules that can help people spend their time better. When I had 150 people learn these nine rules over nine weeks, their time satisfaction scores rose significantly. Most weeks, I post my own “scorecard” here. How did I do on the nine rules over the previous week? Since I track my time in 30-minute increments, I don’t need to rely on memory. I just look at my time log (never tracked your time? Here’s how to do it!).
Last week was full and this one will be too but things haven’t completely fallen apart yet. Give it time…? I’m traveling for work this week so that always adds a dimension of complexity. Anyway, overall I did fairly well on the rules, and in several situations the rules were quite helpful. Which is why I have them!
Rule #1: Give yourself a bedtime. I am happy to report that as I look across my spreadsheet time log, I see “sleep” in the 11-11:30 slot every single night. Weekends too. It looks like a straight line — very pleasing. My wake-up times are slightly variable, as the 15-year-old is taking the bus some mornings. Also, I occasionally wake up in the middle of the night and get a bit too involved pondering life to get back to sleep immediately. So I was happy to “sleep in” to 7:20 a.m. on Saturday morning. Sunday morning was 6 a.m. with the half-marathon! But more on that below.
Rule #2: Plan on Fridays. This upcoming week is going to be complex enough that I started planning on Thursday. But taking some time to think about what matters, and to sort through what I need to do, has me feeling far more confident. I can make better choices about time. For instance, I practiced my speech on Friday once I wrote everything down and realized that there wouldn’t be time to practice it twice before I give it on Tuesday (I will practice it again in the car on the way to the airport…I always do!)
Rule #3: Move by 3 p.m. A reasonable success. On Monday, I ran with my 15-year-old along the river during another child’s fencing class. This was from 5:15-5:40 p.m., so that wasn’t before 3 p.m., but it was a good way of sneaking in extra exercise, so that’s something along the lines of the rule. Every other day I got in a run or walk before 3 p.m. On Tuesday I was booked solid with podcast interviews all day but my 12:00 p.m. podcast turned out to be less than 30 minutes long. So I managed to eat lunch and then go for a 10 minute walk. I really needed that little break and it was inspired by this rule, which is the point of having these rules! In the “different kinds of movement” category I took my 2-year-old to swim class again on Saturday. He did much better this time! He didn’t do all the activities but at least he didn’t scream.
Rule #4: Three times a week is a habit. For this rule, I focus on running, playing the piano, and eating family meals.
I ran three times this past week: with the 15-year-old on Monday, after a round of podcast interviews on Wednesday, and then I ran the Philadelphia Distance Run half marathon. These runs were definitely not the same! I played the piano three times — the third time after realizing, as I wrote a draft of this post on Sunday, that I’d only done it twice. Playing the piano was a nice way to spend 20 minutes while my husband had taken the 2-year-old to the hardware store, and the rule provided the nudge.
Family meals happened less. We did eat dinner together Sunday night (fajitas) but every other night at least one person was gone.
Rule #5: Create a back-up slot. Friday wound up completely open: no meetings/podcasts/etc. Which was good, because my punch list was long. And I needed to sort through the next week’s plan! Because I had the space I offered to pick up the two middle schoolers at school (one had an instrument, and they have a long bus ride). Then the high schooler called and said he had to bring home his choir tux. So I went to get him too, but traffic was such at the high school that we were among the last cars in the line for the middle school, and there was some unhappiness about that, and about my getting the high schooler (there is tension because he is often driven in the mornings — mostly because it means all of us can sleep later, though I recognize this can feel unfair). So I am not sure my good deed was appreciated here.
Rule #6: One big adventure, one little adventure. On Sunday, my husband and I ran the half-marathon together. As with everything in our lives, this required a lot of logistical coordination. Our sitter came at 6:30 a.m. (bless her) and we parked in the garage by his office, which was about a mile from the start. The run itself was…painful. I did OK up until mile 9 or so. I ran with my husband but then I ran out of steam and I wound up counting to 100 over and over again to get through the last 3.1 miles. I took a few tiny walk breaks too.
So my time was not what I wanted. I’m trying to be philosophical about it. Any day you can run 13.1 miles (and walk a mile on either side…) is a good day. I’m also disappointed in my training. I am realizing that this running-out-of-steam happens every time, and maybe some people can maintain form and vigor for the last 3.1 miles if they’ve done several 10 mile runs, but given that a half isn’t an over-the-top distance, I need to just do more 12-14 mile training runs if I’m going to attempt a half again. Those are harder to fit in life but that is what it is going to require.
As for a little adventure – on Saturday night six of us went out to eat (minus the 12-year-old, who was camping with the boy scouts). This was not exactly a “fun” adventure in the sense that the kids fought and the 2-year-old was wiggly as usual. But out of the ordinary. And will continue to be out of the ordinary because I don’t see myself taking them out to eat again soon. (Though my daughter told me afterwards she really liked it and wants to do it again. I guess we do not all experience things the same way!)
Rule #7: Take one night for you. I was really grateful for choir practice this week. There was just all sorts of stuff going down in my family Thursday night but I told everyone listen, I am in rehearsal for the next two hours. And then I was. I needed that.
Rule #8: Batch the little things. Many many little things. Life is like that sometimes…But during my Friday batching window I mailed some things, paid several bills, answered most of the people who needed to be responded to (not everyone – but most). In an excellent feat of multi-tasking, I cleaned my desk while practicing my speech. I also located 11 out of 12 credit card statements for 2021 as I prep to deal with my taxes (6 month extension; also, the credit card company has the twelfth available electronically I am sure, I just figured I had them in my office somewhere so I should find them). And I printed the forms to fill out for two of the kids’ passports. I am pacing myself on that project as nothing about it is pleasant but it must be done.
Rule #9: Effortful before effortless. I am reading through The Economist at night, which is reducing my screen time slightly. I bought a book of short stories, then got bored 10 minutes in. But at least that was 10 minutes! And I plan to start an autumn puzzle in the next week or so. I had been doing a ton of 1000-piece puzzles last year and then I got burned out on them around the time we needed the dining room table clear so we could list the house. I haven’t gotten in a new routine of doing puzzles here. But as the kids’ computer is in the dining room, I do wind up sitting with the 2-year-old for at least some amount of time. Doing puzzles would probably be better than scrolling.
Let me know how you did last week!
In other news: I’m participating in a webinar on September 23 (12-1:15 p.m. Eastern) aimed at freelance journalists called “Productivity without Pain.” Jamila Bey will be interviewing me and moderating as we discuss Tranquility by Tuesday. While the material will be aimed at journalists, anyone is welcome. You can register here (for this and other webinars).
Photo: At the starting line