Wrap-up thread (September 2023 Time Tracking Challenge)

Happy Monday! A new time tracking week started for me this morning at 5 a.m. As I have every Monday morning for the past 8 years, I finished my previous week’s time log, archived it, and opened another.

Picking up where we left off yesterday…I left the photographer’s studio with the 13-year-old and 8-year-old around 4:45 p.m. yesterday. We drove home (about 30 minutes) and then, after figuring out where everyone was, I cooked dinner (hamburgers and hot dogs plus fries, fruit, corn, etc.). We started eating shortly before 6 p.m. and ended this family dinner shortly thereafter. All seven of us were sitting in chairs at the table for at least 2 simultaneous minutes, so that’s a win.

There was some random cleaning up and kid time in here. I worked on my puzzle (again! but I am not quite done!) while the 3-year-old watched a video. Then I noticed it was getting on toward 7 p.m., so I nudged the 13-year-old to get his Scout uniform on. My husband drove him over to the Scout House (less than 5 minutes away) and came home by 7:10 to drive the 8-year-old to parkour.

We decided that he (my husband) could just stay there during the class (7:30-9) instead of running back to get the 13-year-old, though that did complicate bedtime for the 3-year-old a bit. I wound up just keeping him up until 8:30 when we got the 13-year-old together. In this 7-8:30 window I made my bed with the cleaned sheets and then did about 45 minutes of work, kind of just prepping for the week since I won’t be at my desk much, multi-tasked with toddler needs. We got home at 8:40, and I read the 3-year-old several stories (the rule was two, but now he keeps pushing it to three…) and then got him down shortly after 9.

After checking in on everyone else, and saying hello to the 8-year-old who got back around 9:20, I worked on the puzzle for 20 minutes, took away the 8-year-old’s iPad (it should have been gone earlier…), then did some foam rolling/stretching until 9:52, at which point I circulated for bedtime chats. Everyone’s lights went off except the 16-year-old, who had been reading Harry Potter to the 8-year-old (9:40-10) and still needed to shower.

I read Good Housekeeping in bed for a while and turned the lights out at 10:45 p.m. I slept until 5:30 (and then in and out for another hour) — which is beyond the grid of this particular time log, so that’s the end of my tale for this past week.

In many ways it was a typical “at home” week. Things were a bit light on the activity front as several of the older kids’ regular activities haven’t started yet. I worked for 36 hours. The range on that during the week was 6.25-7.75 hours/day (with a handful of weekend hours thrown in). The mornings tend to be pretty solid work, but by the afternoon, with my workouts and then the kid stuff, things are a lot more off and on. I was good about meeting my goal to start by 8:15 a.m. each day, which is necessary if I’m trying to maintain full-time hours given everything else.

(Why do I care about work hours? I know that when the total slides under 30/week on average for a while it means I’m not doing things like maintaining my network, thinking about new ideas, marketing myself, etc. I’m doing what I’m contracted to do, but not the career capital building stuff.)

Speaking of workouts, this was a reasonable week — both for quantity and in terms of variety. I exercised on 6 of the 7 days. Monday I worked out with my trainer. Tuesday I biked. Wednesday I ran in the neighborhood. Thursday I went on the hike with the local trails group (and did about 15 minutes of strength training). Friday I ran on some nearby trails. Saturday I ran to the coffee shop and home, and went on a walk with my husband at the arboretum. I spent more time foam rolling than I probably ever have and I do think it’s been helpful.

My sleep total for the week was 52.5 hours, which comes out to exactly 7.5 hours/day. The range here was 6.5 to 8.5 — some nights really are better than others! But the average seems to come out all right. I was in bed 7-plus hours before I needed to wake up every night, which is in keeping with Tranquility by Tuesday Rule #1 (Give Yourself a Bedtime).

We all have low-energy time that is hard to use well. I know that I spent less time scrolling this week than I would have because I had a 1000-piece puzzle I was doing, a light book I was reading (Ken Jennings’ 100 Places to See After You Die), and a few magazines that filled the time.

The trail hike was probably my “little adventure” for the week, with the Holland Ridge Farms trip serving the “big adventure” role. Getting kid photos taken on Sunday consumed a lot of time, so I hope my future self will remember to thank me for this!

Speaking of consuming a lot of time…I am with the kids a lot. Partly we’re just all around each other a lot, though there were some more interesting interactions too. I went in the pool with kids twice during the week, and there was the 3rd grade Bible presentation stuff at church. I went with the 16-year-old to Starbucks (with him driving), practiced voice with him a few times, went to his voice lesson, plus we went to choir practice together on Thursday and Sunday morning. The flower picking trip allowed for some discussion with the three middle kids. I had a few longer chats with my daughter. The 13-year-old is a bit more buttoned up, so this is more challenging, but I wind up going into his room first at night to try to engage him to some degree. I read stories to the 3-year-old six out of the seven nights.

Anyway, this week will be different from last week for a lot of reasons, but life keeps churning along. I hope you had a good week — whether you were tracking or not! If you’d like to share your tracking observations with me (without posting on a blog), feel free to email them to laura at laura vanderkam dot com. Or you can post them here!


2 thoughts on “Wrap-up thread (September 2023 Time Tracking Challenge)

  1. It was the first time I’ve tracked a full week and it was interesting. I tracked work in categories of “work-planned” and “work-reactive”. It always felt like I spend my days in work-reactive mode, which is not very productive. But when I look at the data I can see some days work-reactive mode dominates but actually it’s overall it’s far less than I thought. I guess it feels like more because its quite disruptive and sometimes stressful. I also think I blame it for not getting all my planned work done and perhaps I overestimate how much I can get through during my planned work time. All food for thought.

    1. @Kate – congrats on finishing the week! Time does feel differently based on how much control you have over it. So being in reactive mode, which feels stressful, can make time feel like it’s moving a lot slower, or consumes a lot more space. I do think tracking is helpful with noticing that not *all* time is like that, so we can feel empowered to use the times that we have more control of, and not let the reactive narrative seize the day…

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