Day 2 — Evening post (September 2023 Time Tracking Challenge)

Did you make it through a second day of time tracking? Did it feel any easier? Notice any patterns in how you spend your time?

After I published my blog post around 7 p.m. last night, B left, and I played in the playroom with the 3-year-old for about 30 minutes (note: a lot of this involved him playing and me just kind of lying down). My husband and the 8-year-old returned at 7:30, at which point we all congregated in the kitchen for a while as he ate dinner and I made energy bites (peanut butter, honey, oats, and vegan chocolate chips — they’re pretty good!).

At 8:00 my husband took the little boys up to play a video game, so I did my puzzle for 30 minutes (it’s a fall scene with a school bus). Then I went to get the 3-year-old, and read him a story and gave him a bottle. I put him in his bed but he did not want to stay there, so as I went out to deal with the other kids for a while he kept hollering. Eventually I went down to do the puzzle again, and then found my husband, who was out watering grass seed (yes, at 9:30 p.m.) and got him to come in and sit with the little guy until he fell asleep.

At 10 I turned the other kids’ lights out (with brief chats for all) and then tried to foam roll out my leg, accompanied by consultations with Dr. Google. I’ve been dealing with some unpleasant pain on the front and side of my right thigh – it’s worst when I’m standing or walking (running/biking/sitting or lying down it’s fine). If it’s a combo of standing and walking short distances, like in a store or museum — or waiting 20 minutes for a kid at a bus stop — it’s particularly bad. Anyway, still trying to figure that out or what I can do about it. (Not recent – I first remember being bothered by it during the France trip in 2022).

Around 10:30 my husband came in to talk with me, then announced he had to go fix one of the thermostats downstairs and was coming back, but I waited five minutes and then…I fell asleep. So that was our exciting evening.

However, I did sleep through the night, waking with my alarm at 6:30 a.m., so I know I was tired. At this point the general morning routine repeated. I got the 16-year-old up, showered and dressed, and then made my coffee. As the 16-year-old and my husband were leaving, I got the two middle schoolers up. I ate some eggs as they got their breakfasts, and then I drove them down the driveway (with both of their instruments this time) around 7:30.

The 8-year-old was up, so I made sure he had breakfast, and then I treated myself to 10 minutes of puzzle time before getting the 3-year-old up shortly before 8. The idea is that if I get him up and start getting him ready he won’t holler for me when he gets up a little later (as I’m trying to start my work day by 8:15). B came around 8 and after some discussion I went to my office and was working by 8:15.

I did various things — emails, writing newsletters — until 10:00, at which point it was Deep Thinking Time.

I kid, to a degree, but I had blocked off 10-12 as time to think of ideas and what I might like to write about next. There are lots of potential ideas, though one I keep coming back to — as in one I’d be most annoyed if I found out someone else was writing something major about — is large family organization. There’s a certain orderliness to a well-run 3-ring circus that I find fascinating. So, we shall see.

At noon I sent a flurry of texts to people about various things (from a fridge door handle to play date scheduling), stopped my deep thinking (ha) and made my lunch (curried chicken salad again). I ate it while doing my puzzle until 12:30, at which point I saw a text from my husband saying he was going to eat at 12:30 (he was working from home too). Whoops. So I ate one of my energy bites as dessert and chatted with him. At some point in here I got a text from my 16-year-old asking if I could take pictures of a dozen pages in his history book to send to him for his study session after school…

After sending those (yes), I decided to go for a bike ride as my “move by 3 p.m.” activity. I’m trying to make these logs more interesting! So I loaded my bike in my car, and drove to the Schuylkill River Trail.

On some level this was a continuation of my Deep Thinking Time as I really do explore ideas well while biking — probably as well as sitting there banging my head against my desk. I rode for 45 minutes. It was a beautiful day for it. Then it was back in the car (while listening to Best Laid Plans!) and home.

I worked for another hour on random stuff (2:45-3:45), then took the 3-year-old with me to get the 16-year-old while B waited for the 8-year-old at the bus stop. We drove to the high school, at which point Starbucks was requested. The 3-year-old yelled that he did not want to go. So I brought him home, waited 10 minutes until B came back with the 8-year-old (the bus continues to come at least 15 minutes after the time the app claims) and then had the 16-year-old drive (leaving around 4:20).

He is really doing well at driving, but it is still a little nerve wracking to be a passenger for a student driver. I just try to relax. We got to the Starbucks and the lot was absolutely full — like both the legal spots and the not-legal spots you can kind of wait in if someone’s in the car. So we circled the block, then came back and my son stayed behind the wheel navigating that ridiculousness while I got the drinks. He drove us home (arriving 4:45).

I then worked for another hour — this is my afternoon life. An hour off, an hour on…And evening life! I stopped at 5:45 to take a quick walk outside to get the mail and stick my toes in the pool — just pausing to look at the trees for a minute. Then it was in to eat cereal for dinner (#winning?) and leave at 6:30 with the 8-year-old to go to swim team.

I am writing this (and other things) while sitting on the sidelines of the pool as he is practicing — so that’s another 45 minutes. I will post this tonight when I get back (it looks like the swim team pool possibly has Wifi but unclear).

Looking back at Day #2 I have a few reflections. I’m glad I got close to 8 hours of sleep (vs. my usual 7.4) — I’ve been feeling tired lately. I have no idea why but if it’s true it’s true. I am not sure how “productive” my Deep Thinking Time will turn out to be but I do think it’s important to do this. It’s fun to do a puzzle while eating lunch — more fun than reading headlines about where Hurricane Lee might hit or the escaped prisoner around here — so I’m glad I did that. And the bike ride! That was a real highlight of the day. Possibly of my week. Good posting these logs gave me the nudge to do that!

Here’s what the log looks like in table form.

7:00  play w/H in playroom
7:30  M chat, make energy bites
8:00  puzzle
8:30  H- story, feed/down
9:00  kids, still dealing w/H
9:30  puzzle, get M
10:00 foam roll/Google, ready bed
10:30 wait M- sleep

6:30  up, J, shower, coffee
7:00  R, S, eggs, kids/read, van
7:30  van, A, puzzle, H up
8:00  BP, work
8:30  work
9:00  work
9:30  work
10:00 work (brainstorm)
10:30 work – wander around
11:00 work (brainstorm)
11:30 work, send texts
12:00 lunch (+ puzzle)
12:30 chat w/M, J pages
1:00   ready, load, drive
1:30   drive, unload, bike SRT
2:00   bike SRT
2:30  drive, unload, work
3:00  work
3:30  work, get J (w/H)
4:00  home, kids, J drives Starbucks
4:30  J drives, work
5:00  work
5:30  work, walk outside – toes in pool
6:00  kids, eat cereal, ready
6:30  drive A, watch swim/work
7:00  work at swim

12 thoughts on “Day 2 — Evening post (September 2023 Time Tracking Challenge)

  1. Oof, that sounds like a busy day! I’ve been making the protein bites with tahini so I can send them as a school snack (nut-free school).

    I tracked all day, it was a WFH day, and mostly teaching prep/admin, plus the school run and parents evening (where the teacher says my son is a true delight, but there’s some tricky friend dynamics that are making him blue). I went to bed at 9 to try and make my early alarm less painful but I always find it hard to sleep when I know I have to get up really early.

    Now it’s 6:51 and I’m on a train to work, looking at the Scottish countryside from the train window. The bus was slightly faster than expected (the perks of a 5:30 bus?) so I got an earlier train, but didn’t have time to get a cup of tea in the station so I’m undercaffeinated. Working rather than reading b/c I’m afraid I’ll get absorbed or doze off and miss my stop.

  2. Love the time tracking challenge, I am also in! The log in table form is really fun to see “still dealing with H, kids, van”, “work wander around”, haha)
    A few questions:
    how many hours of work do you get in during a week?
    Do you never scroll? I have 90 minutes of “phone activities” on my log already this week and you haven’t mentioned any. Wow!
    Would you track it as working if I read this blog for 10 minutes during office hours? I mean, obviously that is not work but I am still available to respond to calls and Teams messenger requests.
    I also notice that I have “better” weeks while tracking because I want to put down memorable things. But I don’t wanna track consistently like you do…

    Even if I do not plan to have a large family I would love to read a book of yours on the topic!

    1. @Maggie – glad you would want to read the book! I’m not sure how many other people would but I’d find it fun.
      Oh, I scroll all the time. Sometimes I record it as such, but a lot of time it’s interspersed with other things. Like sort of watching a kid activity. Or while eating. While in the 3-year-old’s room waiting for him to go to sleep. That sort of thing. One reason I’ve taken up puzzles is to try to limit it. Plus getting brainless books from the library (I looked through a book of Whole 30 recipes last night – I kid you not – but at least they are dairy free).
      Work hours — generally I am aiming for around 35 a week, though sometimes less if I have a lot of other stuff going on with the kids. More if I’m cruising toward the end of a project. So maybe 30-35 hours most weeks.
      As for categories – this really depends what you’re hoping to track or know. If you were looking at how many hours per week you are available for work or at your work location, then reading a blog at work would still be work. But maybe you’re trying to see how much time is actively on the core of your work vs. being available. Then you might want to note it differently. Or if you are trying to see how many breaks you take during the day (to make sure they’re being spent enjoyably) then you might want to track it as a break. There’s no prize for the coolest pie chart (or the highest work hour #) so it really depends what you’re interested in.

  3. I would read about large family logistics!

    I’ve been thinking about you with regard to the escaped prisoner. Fingers crossed he isn’t escaped much longer.

    1. @Gillian – caught as of this morning, thank goodness, and nobody hurt.

      Now as for large family logistics…question is, how many other people would read it? Or maybe I don’t care. I’d find it fun.

      1. @Laura I would argue that some large family productivity/organization might be helpful to smaller families. They might not all be economies of scale.

  4. I would love a book on large family logistics! I think the principles would be useful even for smaller families, especially since you could give advice on traveling, etc.

    Maybe you could have a chapter in there aimed at dads who are trying for the best of both worlds, too. A lot of the principles of “I Know How She Does It” are useful for both sexes, but I bet a lot of guys would like to hear how other guys specifically do things, just like I enjoy hearing how other women do it. My husband was just lamenting the other day that professional men don’t talk much how they balance being good dads with their busy careers. Maybe the assumption is that they’re not at all involved in any childcare or housework (?!), but he wishes that they’d explain how they manage to fit it all in.

    1. @Madeline – ah, writing for men is a whole different can of worms. I believe a lot of my work (with the exception of IKHSDI) is in fact written for people of any gender. However, I know my readers are about 80% female – and then this always becomes a question with branding because books by men are for everyone but books by women are, by default, for women. A lot to unpack there!

  5. Even though my family is not large, I have been fascinated with large family logistics since I read “Cheaper By the Dozen” during childhood. I think that the father in the story was an industrial time management expert. I think that lots of people would read a book covering this topic!

    1. @BethC – I had such trouble getting into Cheaper by the Dozen, even though I know it should be up my alley. Maybe I’ll try again…(I seem to have this problem with a number of much-loved books…possibly a character flaw on my part…)

    2. I totally understand that. In the meantime, I’ll nudge him to read 168 Hours or Tranquility by Tuesday on his own. He’s heard me talk about them, but he would probably benefit by really absorbing the ideas himself.

  6. I agree. I have three kids and definitely not large, I find that it’s definitely trickier than two. Plus, I just adore books/long form articles on logistics of any kind! I think that’s why I always like day in the life posts, I’m just nosy by nature!

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