Wrap up thread – January 2024 Time Tracking Challenge

Congrats to everyone who finished the time tracking challenge! The week officially ended at 5 a.m. this morning, but there’s no reason to stop tracking. If you felt this week was unusual in some way, feel free to track another! If you felt this week was typical but you’d like some confirmation, another week could show that. Or another year. Or nine years!

Anyway, I appreciate everyone’s notes to me about yesterday’s log/pain fest. The good news is that I slept all night and woke up feeling reasonable. My leg + back are tender so I’m just trying to stay put as much as possible but fingers crossed I’ll be able to go to the birthday party this afternoon (hopefully I’ll be able to find a chair and plant myself there).

Despite Sunday’s debilitation and the half day Friday, the week wound up being reasonably “typical.” I worked for 38 hours. I did work on all seven days of the week, and did work after 6 p.m. on three weekdays but still didn’t top 40 hours. If I had a story of being overworked, I could point to those nights and weekend work as evidence. But time tracking shows something different. I’m often doing other things during normal work hours: working out with my trainer, running, getting a massage, taking my kids out to lunch on the half day. Given that, doing some work at night and on weekends is how I keep things moving forward professionally. Yep, in my case, doing work at night and on weekends is how I achieve “balance.”

I’m not sure on the sleep number. Saturday night is hard to calculate. I slept some but I’m not really sure when. On the week nights I stayed pretty close to my 11 p.m. bedtime, waking up somewhere between 6-6:30 a.m. Generally when I do this I don’t stray too far from the 7.3-7.4 hours of sleep per day that I’ve calculated I need.

I listened to Bach all seven days. I did my sonnet writing all seven days. I did not do my back exercises Sunday as there were moments when I couldn’t move. So that streak is paused for the moment. I have to say, I’m feeling a little betrayed that I’ve been faithfully doing my stretches/yoga poses every day for 2 months and my body did this to me.

I exercised four times: working out with my trainer on Monday, running on the treadmill early Tuesday morning, on the treadmill Wednesday afternoon, and then outside on Friday.

As for “quality” leisure, there were a few notable moments. I finished my 500-piece puzzle. I read by the fireplace. I read in the bathtub one night. I went to my choir rehearsal on Thursday (if I didn’t make it to church Sunday morning). I went out to dinner Friday night. I went to the auto show on Saturday.

I spent some one-on-one time with all the kids. The 16-year-old and I made two Starbucks trips. The 14-year-old and I went to the auto show together. My daughter and I had a number of conversations, plus we went out to lunch (with the 14-year-old) on Friday. The 8 (now 9) year old and I did those tree climbing and outdoor explorations. And the 4-year-old gets quality time by virtue of being little! I read him stories four nights, for instance.

There were some low moments for sure. Obviously, much of Saturday night and Sunday would be nice not to repeat (though it was interesting to see a few of my kids’ concern – the 4-year-old wound up sitting next to me in bed playing quietly for quite a while. The 12-year-old and 16-year-old both came to talk to me. It’s entirely possible the other two children weren’t even aware until evening that anything had happened, but hey!). I was also not a big fan of Wednesday morning, when I was driving around all those detours and wound up spending 90 minutes in the car getting people to school. There were several run-of-the-mill annoyances, like getting a rental car, or the now 9-year-old dropping his iPad down the stairs (like down multiple flights…how??).

But life continues. We have the big win of the 16-year-old getting his license! Two teeth were lost. The 9-year-old had lots of presents to open. I made progress on my book proposal. So, that’s good.

If you participated in the challenge, I’d love to hear how it went. Feel free to email me at laura at lauravanderkam dot com if you don’t want to post here. And feel free to keep tracking! I always find it useful, even if I’ve been at it for a while….




7 thoughts on “Wrap up thread – January 2024 Time Tracking Challenge

  1. This was my 3rd year of doing this, I think. It’s cool to note how things change year-over-year. Like in 2022 I was up during the night with our youngest for 5.5 hours – he got tubes that week but then got a virus shortly thereafter and was up with fevers and such. I was up a couple of times this week w/ the toddler but not for long.

    I only worked 36.5 hours but it was quiet at the start of the week and I was WFH since my office is going through a restack from 3 floors to 2. So I used downtime to catch up on home admin tasks. My days look quite different when I am in the office as we have a commute and I tend to work longer hours in the office. Lastly, my time w/ the kids increased by 5 hours but I had very little social time during the week whereas last year I had 10 hours of social time! Our oldest also goes to bed about 30 minutes later so we get 30 more minutes of time together which adds up.

    1. @Lisa – I am glad you were not up 5.5 hours with anyone this year! And yes, it’s interesting how later bedtimes change available time with kids, particularly if there is a commute in the equation. Thanks for doing this again!

  2. I typically track my time 3 times a year but I might do a second week in this stretch because this week was a little atypical. I worked 36.5 hour but I usually do an hour or two of work on Sunday but I didn’t do so yesterday because today is a holiday so I will do that work today. I slept poorly this week for a number of reasons. It turns out not to have made a huge different in my sleep average (7.2 vs. 7.4 hours) however I would have slept 1/2 hour less if I had been working today because I would have been up at 4:30 this morning. I also did minimal work on my side gig last week because I knew I could do the work today. Instead I went with a friend to the Met Museum to see several exhibits the rest of our families wouldn’t be interested in. So I did use the time well. I usually create an ideal week which I will do today. I will probably track time again over the summer and after school starts in the fall.

    1. @Gillian – going to the Met sounds like a great idea! And yes, there are certain exhibits that basically no one but me would be interested in. Good to have the freedom to move a little slower in those…

  3. Hi Laura! I enjoyed your time tracking posts! I definitely agree that when we have a negative story in our mind about a situation it helps to look at the actual facts in order to be able to think more realistically. I am a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist here in California and I utilize this technique with some of my clients to assist them in managing anxiety and depression. Really enjoy your podcast with SHU and am going to start tracking my own time !

  4. It’s so encouraging to see what can be done in 168 hours. I time-track in my planner (a rather large, customized Agendio) but at the end of the week, I only note the number of hours I spent exercising and writing. I like the way you note the things you did for yourself, including listening to music and caring for your body in non-exercise ways (baths, massages, etc), and the best interactions with your kids. That’s so helpful for re-framing the story of your week, even if it also contained some highly painful moments (I hope you feel better soon). This past week, my husband had Covid, so I was on complete kid and chore duty with no support while teaching 5 full days. It was a double shift, every day. But I did get a 4 day weekend afterward (MLK day, plus a snow day today), and a couple of precious hours last Wednesday night to read when my daughter’s class was cancelled, and those things provided some balance. Having the broader perspective, and celebrating the wins, is the way to reflect on a week.

    1. @Leanne – it is encouraging! I know that time tracking, and then reflecting back on the week holistically, helps me see everything in context. There were some utterly terrible moments. And some really good ones too. Sorry you were doing a double shift this week – hope everyone is better at your place soon.

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