TBT Scorecard: Holiday trains (and comparing life to 2016)

One of the fun parts of having tracked time for 7.5 years straight is that I can look at old time logs. I name my time logs for the Monday where I start tracking (e.g. “Nov 28”). However, starting in this summer, I had to add the year too, because I have the files from summer 2016 and on still on this same computer, which is when Mondays fell on this same date cycle the last time. Once I realized that, I also realized it might be fun to look at the corresponding log from 2016 every time I archive my 2022 one.

So the week of November 28, 2016 turns out to have been a doozy. I was on a panel at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Next Generation conference out in California, and stayed at a gorgeous place on the beach. Also, Jewel was a fellow conference attendee because I got to see her perform. And I bumped into Amelia Boone in the elevator. Apparently that week I also volunteered at the elementary school book fair, went to my son’s performance of Sleeping Beauty, went out to eat with my husband for my birthday, and went to a yoga class out in New Jersey with a friend.

This past week did not feature the Ritz on the beach in California. Instead I was in Columbus, Ohio. But! The hotel in downtown Columbus was still lovely —  all decked out for Christmas — and the conference I spoke at was great, with wonderful hosts, so it’s fun to see that I’m still doing similar things in various places. And my husband and I went to a real dinner party at a friend’s home downtown, so there was still some fanciness! Plus Sarah and I recorded two Best of Both Worlds episodes (year-in-review and goals 2023), and I was reminded that that podcast did not exist in 2016 — indeed, I was not podcasting at all. So life still changes in good ways.

Here’s how I did on the Tranquility by Tuesday rules last week.

(New here? Every week I post how I did on the nine rules I share in my most recent time management book, Tranquility by Tuesday. These rules can help us calm the chaos and make time for what matters. When I follow them, life really does feel better!)

Rule #1: Give yourself a bedtime. Most nights I was close to 11 p.m. On Monday night I couldn’t get to sleep until midnight, but I made up for that by crashing at 10:15 p.m. or so in my hotel room Tuesday night. I stayed up late on Saturday night coloring my hair because it really needed to get done and I hadn’t done it yet. That’s how fun I am.

Rule #2: Plan on Fridays. Yep. I also created a draft of the kids’ activity schedule for the week on Friday. It’s been my goal to do that in addition to my work/personal planning (rather than leaving it to Sunday). Doing so helped me realize, a few days earlier, that an alto sax lesson and a tutoring session would need to be moved due to various holiday concerts.

Rule #3: Move by 3 p.m. Mostly. I did several short walks in the morning or early afternoon to follow this rule. On Saturday I had planned to go for a run in the morning, but it was rainy and then the day kind of got away from me. I know I got over 10,000 steps walking to the various train exhibits (more on that below).

Rule #4: Three times a week is a habit. I ran four times, including once in the hotel gym on Wednesday morning. Lately I haven’t been bringing exercise gear with me on trips, partly because I haven’t had much time in my hotels. But I looked at the schedule for this week’s excursion and saw I would have a few hours before I needed to report to the venue (around 11:30 a.m.). So I ran two miles on the treadmill (listening to BOBW!) and did some weight lifting. I also ran 2 quick miles in the YMCA on Sunday afternoon — I thought the place closed at 7 but it closed at 5 so that visit was a wee bit faster than expected! (My 15-year-old came with me and also did some quick running — we are going to be training for a fast 5k in the spring). I also ran on trails on Monday (lovely) and up and down our road on Thursday.

We had family dinner on Monday, Saturday, and Sunday. Thursday we were all there except the 13-year-old, who now has a 2-hour fencing class.

I played the piano four times. As I think about next year’s goals, I’m debating what to include in my “three times a week category.” I will add singing — I almost always already do sing three times a week with choir practice, Sunday morning church, and then practicing on my own once. But I think by formalizing it, I’ll start doing some more voice training, which would be good.

Rule #5: Create a back-up slot. I had lunch with a friend Friday mid-day, but I didn’t schedule anything for the afternoon, which wound up being good when I realized I’d gotten tickets for the Morris Arboretum’s holiday train display on the wrong day. My tickets were for 5:30 p.m. December 1st — I meant to get them for 5:30 p.m. December 2nd. But somehow I didn’t. When I realized that, on Friday, I called Morris and they said they were booked for 5:30 but I could come 4:30. I managed to collect the kids (not my husband though) and we went for an hour and had a good time. It turned out it was good I went early, because we had to hop in an Uber as soon as I got home to go downtown for our 7:30 dinner. Speaking of which…

Rule #6: One big adventure, one little adventure. So one of my husband’s colleagues had us and a few other folks over for dinner on Friday night, and he’d hired a chef to create an absolutely amazing meal. So that was definitely an adventure!

In addition to the Morris train display, we also went to the Railroad Museum of PA on Saturday and did “Christmas with the Conductor” — listening to the Polar Express on a train, decorating cookies, seeing Santa, and then sending our Christmas wishes via telegram to the north pole. We stopped by the Choo Choo Barn and saw their giant train display with 63 Santas (more or less). I think my 7- and 11-year-olds found all of them!

In the maybe not-so-fun adventure category: I took the four older kids to Target on Saturday night to shop for sibling presents. We shopped for 30 minutes, which was fine, but then we waited in line for 30 minutes checking out. Some of my children were going a little off the wall. (Note: the self-check out line was also huge, and I had given the older children cash so they could buy the presents without showing their siblings, but then there were limited lines and a person in front of us was paying for an order with a combination of approximately 15 gift cards…)

Rule #7: Take one night for you. Choir rehearsal on Thursday was fun as we sang through the various Messiah choruses in advance of our sing-along this weekend. And I went out for dinner solo in Columbus and had an excellent meal.

Rule #8: Batch the little things. I went through my “punch list” on Friday morning, paying bills and the like.

Rule #9: Effortful before effortless. I continue to make my way through Christmas magazines, including the ones I bought in the airport: O quarterly, The Pioneer Woman, and Magnolia. I think my favorite so far might be Southern Living. I’ve been reading A Winter’s Tale in my Shakespeare project. It’s a little dark, though the pastoral scenes in Act IV are kind of fun, and now that everything is resolving in Act V, it’s as over-the-top light as it was dark before. I’ve also been reading Christmas books to the kids. I think I read The Grinch Who Stole Christmas five times last week! I read to the 2-year-old before he goes to bed, and then I read Christmas books with the 11-year-old and 7-year-old. They don’t always want that, so it’s nice that the holiday season is encouraging it. We are also close to done with the Lego holiday village. Only about 1.5 bags to go!

Hope your week went well! If you’re interested in tracking your time, I’ll be running a Time Tracking Challenge from Jan 9-15, 2023.

Photo: From the Choo Choo Barn in Lancaster — they can change the prices on this miniature Turkey Hill gas station sign.

3 thoughts on “TBT Scorecard: Holiday trains (and comparing life to 2016)

  1. I was born and raised in Columbus, OH. May I ask the name of your hotel in downtown? Thank you. Enjoy your posts.

    1. @Lou – it was the Hilton downtown by the convention center. They’ve added on and have a glass walkway between buildings – all very nice.

  2. Hello, Ms. Laura Vanderkam. When it comes to “Tranquility by Tuesday”, I would think that you are aiming for tranquility by almost any day. Is that the case?
    I do think it is great that your time logs extend as far back as 2016. By contrast, my time logs only extend as far back as 2018. I’m wondering, though: If we are not careful, could it be possible that after we’ve viewed one of our past time logs, we just crave to view another one of our past time logs, and then another one, and then another one, and then another one, and by the time that we realized the passage of time, two hours have passed by? I don’t think that you found yourself in this situation, Ms. Laura Vanderkam, but do you think that this situation can happen if we are not careful?

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