2023 Time Tracking Challenge: Observations and numbers

Thanks to everyone who participated in the Time Tracking Challenge over the last week! I hope you found it interesting and possibly enlightening.

I don’t add up my categories regularly anymore, but since last week was the official 2023 Time Tracking Challenge I went ahead and pulled some totals and observations from my previous 168 hours.

I worked 37.5 hours. This is reasonably typical. Monday was the longest (8.5) but many other days wind up being more in the 6-7 hour range. I generally work while my 8- and 3-year-old are out of the house (8:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.) and if I break for lunch or exercise, that gives me about 6 hours, or a base of roughly 30 hours during a 5-day week (also not a given). It’s hard to guarantee any particular hours outside of that, so I generally don’t schedule calls/meetings outside that window, but I often do some work at night or the weekends (I almost always do at least some work on each weekend day — I don’t mind it at all. This week was a little heavier on that front just because I was posting time logs for this challenge!)

I slept 52.75 hours. This comes out to just a wee bit north of 7.5 hours a day. I didn’t subtract middle-of-the-night bathroom trips, but if you figure those in, you’d get somewhere around 7.4 hours/day, which is my long-term average. Notably, my sleep is a lot more orderly than it has been on past logs! I went to bed around 11 p.m. on the four weeknights, and woke up with my alarm at 6:30 a.m. on those mornings. On weekends I shifted by less than an hour, and generally woke up at or by 7:30 a.m. This is 100 percent a function of no longer having a baby who wakes up in the middle of the night or ridiculously early. I love it! Looking at those orderly open spaces (I don’t write “sleep” in every sleep cell) makes me incredibly happy.

I exercised five times. I ran on four days (around 3 miles each time) and then went to the gym once on Saturday morning for weight lifting + elliptical. I probably could do more on the exercise front but…it’s cold and windy out. And that was about as much as I could prioritize this week. I practiced the piano three times, and sang on those three occasions as well. I then sang at choir practice Thursday night and for the church service Sunday morning, so that’s five times. (In the singing-adjacent category: going to my daughter’s choir concert and signing my 15-year-old up for voice lessons.)

I’m trying to build more couple time into my schedule. My husband and I ate lunch together on Monday and Tuesday when we were both working from home. We also had a date night on Sunday, going to the Matisse exhibit at the art museum, and out for dinner afterwards. I will admit that I arranged this partly because I knew I’d be posting my logs and I wanted to have something fun planned into my weekend!

I read approximately 70 pages of Jane Austen’s juvenalia (part of my year-long reading project) and I wrote a sonnet — some musings on the effort that goes into creating music that sounds ethereal. Sometimes my Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday self is not kind to my Monday, Wednesday, and Friday self (who has to match the rhyming scheme). I wrote “Do angel choirs start by singing scales?” and then had to deal with that mess. I read to a child (usually the 3-year-old, but sometimes the 8-year-old) all seven nights. I read my Otherlands book five of seven nights before bed. We are now back in the Carboniferous times. I count 2.5 hours of Legos with the kids, and a whopping 4.75 hours on my puzzle. So that is a reasonable amount of effortful fun, though I’m sure my screen totals are not small either (it winds up interspersed with everything else to a degree.)

We didn’t have any huge adventures this week, though the family trip to the arcade was at least reasonably adventurous (and perhaps Matisse could be my little adventure). There were four Starbucks trips, one Wawa trip, and one McDonalds trip. We are three family meals (Friday night, Saturday night, and Sunday lunch).

I hope your week went well! Let me know what you discovered. For those who participated in the Challenge, your last email has a link to a survey you could fill out if you’d like. The information will help me with my time use research. It is completely anonymous. Thank you!

If you enjoyed this challenge, you might consider signing up for the Tranquility by Tuesday Challenge, which starts this Friday. We’ll work through the nine TBT rules, one at a time, for nine weeks. You’ll get two emails each week with planning and reflection questions. Here’s the link to sign up. Thanks for considering it!

12 thoughts on “2023 Time Tracking Challenge: Observations and numbers

    1. @Karen – Curiously, not zero – despite reasonably heavy outsourcing. I am often making breakfasts for kids in the AM, and cleaning up the kitchen after dinner. I cooked for some meals. I was the one taking out the trash and recycling (with some help from kids), which took quite a while plus putting away groceries and such. I totaled up about 3.5 hours on my log.

      1. Fascinating! May I ask what you outsource? I imagine it’s better to send clothes out to be cleaned when it’s winter rather than doing it yourself.

  1. As with your past time tracking challenges, I enjoyed doing this one just as much. I like seeing where my time is going and trying to be better at spending it wisely in the future. I had quite a few commitments and project deadlines this week, so I am tracking this week (01/16-02/22) to compare the two weeks and see if I made some time spending improvements in areas where I wasted my time during the challenge week. Laura, thanks for providing this challenge and sharing your daily time tracking activity. I did participate in the survey and have signed up for the Tranquility by Tuesday Challenge. Have an awesome week!

    1. @Katherine – thanks for doing the challenge. I do think doing a second week can be helpful to see what is the same and what is different. I know when I first tracked a month straight I was fascinated to see how close my sleep totals were week to week, even though my nights often looked very different (I had an infant at the time!).

    1. @KJ – excellent! I think it will be an interesting experience – hopefully we can all cement these habits into our lives.

  2. Your numbers usually feature very little time commuting, even your church seems very close. That’s great but I don’t think it’s a reality for most people is it? I’d like to hear your thoughts on that as I always see a large number of hours going to getting places (and I can’t not go there). Also things like getting ready, personal hygiene do take time and it seems in the “8 hours of work, 8 hours of sleep leaves plenty of time” these aren’t thought of. Or maybe I’m doing something wrong 😉

    1. @Maggie – we definitely aim to have many things as close as possible. Very little is walkable (which is sad) but most things are drive-able in a short amount of time. Church is approximately 8 min away. The elementary school is 5 minutes, the high school 8 minutes, the middle school 12 minutes (which winds up feeling far!). We are approximately 10 minutes from a place with a lot of shopping options, and it will be less (like 6 minutes!) when a bridge that is currently under repair is back in service (but it has been out since that flood at the beginning of September 2021…so not holding my breath). Theoretically a grocery store is opening up about 5 min from the house too, but also not holding breath on that since the target date was November and it is still under construction. I do value being close to things, one reason we chose to live in this area and not farther out (also the school district). That said, I do still spend a lot of time in the car. The mornings I was driving three kids I would be in the car 7:00 and home 7:30, then out again around 7:50 and home 8:15 or so. That’s close to an hour right there, before we even get to kid activities.

      Personal care is…personal – my guess is people spend a wide variety of time on this. I tend to be getting in the shower at 6:33/6:34 and am out at 6:41. Make-up is quick (5 minutes?) and I let my hair dry on its own and then do it later in the morning – a benefit of working from home.

      1. Thanks for your reply!
        I think often it’s not possible to choose to live that close to most places one has to go. I live in a big city and most places take at least 30 mins to get to. It takes lots of time during the week but so far I haven’t found a solution.

        1. @maggie I also live in a city where I end up doing a fair amount of driving. I now work from home, but look forward to those drives because it is the one time I consistently have to listen to my favorite podcasts. For others I know it’s audiobooks. It’s my “me time” in the car.

  3. One of my big takeaways from this round of time tracking is that I need to streamline and simplify what I make for dinner, because everyone else in the family is just as happy (or not!) with a more simple basic meal. At some times in my life I’ve really enjoyed trying new and different recipes, but right now with “selective” eaters in the household spending more time cooking just makes me feel grumpy and unappreciated.

    Yesterday’s spaghetti, meatballs and garlic bread took ~15 minutes of prep, cooked for ~15 minutes while I folded laundry, and was received enthusiastically. The sloppy joes tonight might get complaints, but at least I won’t have spent 45+ minutes just to have my kids end up eating plain buns.

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