2023 Time Tracking Challenge, Day 1 — the rest of the day

After hitting publish on the previous post, I answered a few emails I had on my to-do list. Then I cleared the inbox to current (mostly). At 11:45 a.m. my husband yelled down to my office that he was going to eat lunch since he had a call at noon. So I joined him for a quick bite (leftovers for me, a sandwich for him). Being able to eat lunch together (often with no kids!) is a nice post-Covid bonus of both of us sometimes working from home.

From 12-1 p.m. I edited Before Breakfast scripts and practiced reading them. I checked email again, and then realized that the house was quiet enough — I think the 3-year-old was watching a movie upstairs with our nanny — that I could record. This is always a gamble, because it’s annoying to stop in the middle, but I decided to go for broke.

So from 1:15-1:50 p.m. or so, I recorded five episodes of Before Breakfast back to back.* The first four were good on the first take (no sound edits). That’s why I practice!** The fifth I had to repeat phrases twice, so I made a note of that.

After finishing, I went upstairs and changed into my running clothes. I was out on the driveway when I bumped into the arborist who monitors our trees (our historic house turns out to have some very old trees that we hope don’t fall on us…). Turns out she was in London after Christmas too so we chatted about that and I didn’t start running until about 2:20. Then I ran 3 miles and was home 2:55 or so. I sent in my Before Breakfast sound files (listening to the one with the edits to catch when they were so I could note them for the producer). I got a snack and spent a while texting with various people (including setting up some math tutoring).

Then I worked on various random stuff as kids started coming home. I never assume I will get time to work after 4:00 p.m. though I often do. I left at 4:20 to pick up the 15-year-old from an after school activity. Right around when I got home my 11-year-old had a trumpet lesson, which she tends to use my office for. So I did some idea generation at the kitchen table before leaving at 5:10 with the 7-year-old to go to his Ninja Warrior class. We chatted in the car there, arriving right as class started at 5:30. I checked in with the front desk about his upcoming birthday party, then worked at a table in the gym area for the hour-long class. I wrote much of this post and then worked on future Before Breakfast episodes (I try to be a few weeks ahead but I lost much of my buffer over the holidays. So I need to make up some time.).

At 6:30 p.m. I went into the class where my kid was climbing up slides and dangling on rings and otherwise didn’t want to leave. But they cleared them out by 6:40 (and I said hello to another parent I know) and then we drove home.

Everyone else had already eaten when we got there at 7 so I put together a plate of things he’d eat,*** and then I had the pasta everyone else had. I scrolled while eating, then the dog was whining so I took him out. It was very dark and cold out! I’m glad this is normally my husband’s job.

Now it is 7:30 and I am posting this. I’ll likely go find the toddler soon (he’s with my husband) but I know he took a late nap so who knows when he’ll go to bed. Well, I guess we’ll all know tomorrow when I post my time log!

I hope your first day of time-tracking has gone well!

*For any new folks joining us, Before Breakfast is a very short podcast — about 5 minutes per episode. Each episode features a tip designed to take your day from great to awesome!

** I don’t know why I care so much about this, but I don’t like doing multiple repeat takes if I can avoid it. When I recorded the audio book for Tranquility by Tuesday the producer called me “One Take Vanderkam” — not because I would naturally read things right the first time but because I’d read the book aloud as I’d written it, so nothing was new.

***You tell me — how can a child have the personality to take massive physical risks, darting up to the top of the climbing walls, throwing himself through an obstacle course, but not want to eat unfamiliar foods?

11 thoughts on “2023 Time Tracking Challenge, Day 1 — the rest of the day

  1. Life threw me some curveballs (we lost internet at home for several hours when I was knee-deep in work tasks that required an internet connection + I showed up to a doctor’s appointment only to discover I was at the wrong location), but I’m just about ready to log my final items for the day and…it was a lot of fun!

    I think I did a time-tracking challenge another year, but it has been very interesting to see where all my hours have gone on a relatively random/normal Monday in January.

  2. There could be sooooooo many asterix in my time logs if they were narrative like this, children’s odd food preferences among them. Tonight my daughter specified the order in which the olive oil and cheese went on her pasta. I cannot figure out why this matters…I will not spend more time trying to sort it out.

    1. Seems obvious to me that the olive oil going on first, toss the pasta to coat, then when you put the cheese on, it’ll stick to all the pasta that has the oil on it. Same goes for salads – put the oil/dressing on first, toss to coat, then put the crunchies on and toss again.

      Anyway, Laura, this is the first year I’m following through with your time tracking challenge. I made it through the whole day tracking by the half hour. I even created my own spreadsheet in Google docs!

      1. For context, I’ve wanted to participate in this challenge for about 5 years, but inevitably life things got in the way. But this year, #timetrackingchalenge is very important to me!

        I’m nearly finished with TBT (it’s taken me about 3 months to complete it), but I’m sticking with it because, as you say, 3 times a week is a habit, so that’s seeping into a lot of things I do and honestly, it makes me feel like less of a failure about incorporating more things into my life that I thought I didn’t have time for because I’d miss one day and it would throw me off. I did have that “all or nothing” mindset before. Now, that’s out the window!

        1. @Meaghan – glad you’re planning to do it this year! Yep, an all-or-nothing mindset tends not to be helpful. A few times a week is great for many many things.

      2. @Meaghan so you would think! But for my particularly kid apparently cheese first then olive oil is the ONLY way to do it.

  3. With the eating thing- my incredibly picky eater is the most laid back kid I have ever met. Seriously a very easy to raise kid because he is happy to go along with whatever- except eating. He is as stubborn as possible about that one thing. It has always fascinated me that he has this one thing that he won’t budge on. He is 10 now and is slightly more likely to try food than at 7. My most adventurous child is also my most adventurous eater although I hadn’t thought of that before.

  4. Day 1 was pretty typical Monday got me. I do have a hard time waking up in the morning. I get up with the oldest child for the way to early bus. Then I have a little bit of time to get some stuff done and sometimes I start work. It all depends on how I feel and what is going on. Yesterday, turned into catching up on emails and looking up stuff -which felt like a time suck. Then I got the twins up. They did their chores, breakfast and free time before the next bus. I helped them with alarms on Google Home to remind them of their tasks. Then off to school. I am off to work working at home. I did spend a small amount of time chatting with my co worker. Now I am off to be with my oldest before she goes off to school….day 2 has started.

  5. Day 1 went well. I am not super detailed about my tracking. I struggle a bit w/ blocks of time that are a blend of things, like when I work but read blogs while waiting for data to refresh for example. But I figure I will try not to let perfect be the enemy of the good, as Gretchen Ruben says.

    This week is going to have a very outsized amount of time in the “social” category. I brought a friend with a baby lunch yesterday, I have a HH tomorrow, a friend’s bday dinner on Thurday, a zoom catch up with a friend on Friday, and then a get together with friends on Saturday. My social bucket total for this week in 2022 was 2.5 hours! It will be like 4-5 times that this year! But I was still being very careful last January as the delta variant was circulating and my kids weren’t vaccinated! So it is nice to see a return to a full social schedule. I feel like I’m doing a month’s worth of stuff in a week but that’s how it works sometimes.

  6. Glad I made it in time for the time challenge! I thought I subscribed, but alas my cell phone shut down at the same time I was hitting the join button last week.
    My first observation is that my time sheets are literally all over the place; the back of a menu planner from the week before; the kitchen dry erase board; a failed attempt to craft a homemade version of your remarkable excel sheet.

    I remember reading your book I Know How She Does It back in 2015… there was an observation made on how much time was spent on cleaning; (to which I subconsciously may have chosen to not focus time on since 😆). Beginning time challenge and cleaning or de-cluttering…making space for more of what matters seems to go together…for me at least and hopefully for those you had interviewed for your book. Don’t get me wrong, cleaning is a good thing. But I think we would all be over at FlyLady’s sight if we knew it was enough. That’s why I really appreciate your attitude of cultivating a relationship with time. At least that is the sense I got when I read your blog post from yesterday. Thank you for sharing the 15 minute piano playing…I read it as a time transition. I often find myself slip up in these moments with my time log attempts…in the sense of discrediting them and telling myself I am “distracted” because I am not focused on my to do list and therefore “wasting time.” Forgive if you’ve covered this myth in other books.

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