After one week of tracking how I spend time each day, a picture is starting to emerge of my days and what I prioritize, or what takes up my time at any rate. Over the week of Monday October 7 through Sunday October 13, this is how I spent my time each day, on average:
Sleeping: 7.5 hoursI know it adds up to more than 24 hours. That's because I can do two things at once: knit while watching TV, spend time with friends while eating, spend time with family while driving them home from cross-country practice. This week was a little unusual, in that we went on a long drive to take a long hike, which upped driving, exercise, and family time. I also had an exciting knitting project going, so crafting and TV time were both on the high side. Crafting was up, along with friend time, also due to a stitch night with a few friends and a soap-making class I took with a friend. Cooking/eating was also high because one day I made an elaborate meal, which I hardly ever do anymore. But I suppose every week is unusual in some way.
Family time: 4.6 hours
Crafting: 2.7 hours
Cooking and eating: 2.25 hours
Driving (or riding in the car): 1.9 hours
Entertainment (television and movies): 1.8 hours
Reading: 1.7 hours
Exercising: 1.4 hours
Writing: 1.5 hours
Time with Friends: 1.4 hours
Volunteering: 1.1 hours
Cleaning and organizing: 0.8 hours
Client Work: 0.6 hours
Shopping/Errands: 0.6 hours
Self-care: 0.3 hours
Email: 0.3 hours
Art 0.2 hours
I'm happy with my sleep score. It's the number from my fitbit, so it doesn't include time spent in bed tossing and turning. I'm also pleasantly surprised by family time, though it's a little skewed by parent-teacher conferences and that really long drive and really long hike. But it also includes just sitting around chatting with M who came home for the weekend.
I'm surprised by the writing number, which includes work on a couple of creative nonfiction projects as well as blogging and writing my newsletter. Last week felt really productive, writing-wise, but I only averaged 1.5 hours per day. I suppose the takeaway is either that I don't need to spend a ton of time writing to feel productive or that my perception of productive is pathetically low.
I had thought that things like shopping and errands, housework, volunteer work, and email took up a lot more time than they appear to. I think maybe I either forgot to put a grocery shopping trip in the tracker or I didn't go grocery shopping last week (the state of the refrigerator supports the second possibility, but with three hungry boys in the house it's a challenge to keep the cupboards stocked no matter how often you shop). The housework disconnect may be due to the fact that I've consciously neglected housework ever since the blitz of cleaning and organizing I did in August. If I'd tracked my time then, the cleaning/organizing category would have been a much higher number. And after a four-day weekend of not dealing with email, I spent 3 hours yesterday reading, responding to, filing, and deleting email. A lot of that could fall under the category of "volunteering," since most of the emails that actually needed attention related to one of the two nonprofits I'm actively involved in.
Finally, the self-care and art categories are dismally small. Self-care for me literally means showering or taking a bath. I don't even know what else self-care would entail at this point. And the art number is probably a little bit higher in actuality than it appears, because I've been working on watercolor exercises that I drop in on for a few minutes at a time throughout the day, so usually it doesn't even rate a mention on the spreadsheet.
What does all this mean for how I should manage my time going forward? It definitely shows that there are a limited number of hours in the day, and time spent doing one thing (writing, say) equals time spent NOT doing something else (housework), and that I don't really waste much time each day (unless you count reading the news). There's not much on my list I wish I didn't have to do—other than those unavoidables like cooking, cleaning, driving. When E and Z's cross-country season ends, the driving number will go down, but so too will the amount of time I have to myself each day. I definitely want to lower the time I spend on email and plan to do this by unsubscribing from all the junk, limiting my email replies to three lines (five if it's really important), and deleting unnecessary items as soon as I see them instead of letting them pile up. Finally, I have to think of some ways to pamper myself other than the occasional bubble bath.