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Posts Tagged ‘habits’

In order to get back on track and reFOCUS on my goals for the remainder of the year, I tracked my time for two weeks (week of 02 August and week of 09 August). Both of these weeks started out with 168 hours on Monday at midnight. Since school has reconvened after being on summer break for the last two months, my day job (instructional coach at a PreK2-8th school) and sleep take up the bulk of my time. However, the hours at my day job have been reduced this school year; I am currently working four days per week as opposed to five days when I tracked my time back in January. The reduction in work hours will ultimately allow me to spend more time on creating content and embarking on a new career path.

Week 1: 02 August – 08 August

During this week, I worked 32.5 hours at school and devoted 52.75 hours to sleep. This left me with 82.75 hours to spend in other areas of my life.

That being so, how did I spend those remaining 82.75 hours?

  • Morning Routine: 11.25 hours
  • Travel (to/from work; to/from other places): 4.75 hours
  • Family/Fur Babies/Friends: 9.75 hours
  • Chores: 7.25 hours
  • Exercise: 5 hours
  • Errands: 4.5 hours
  • Read: 3 hours
  • Meals: 5 hours
  • Content Creation (blog; collaboration with Kelsi-YouTube): 20.75 hours
  • Evening Routine: 3 hours

Therefore, 74.25 hours were spent with family/friends, exercising, creating content, fulfilling commitments/life responsibilities, and completing household tasks. My time bank still had 8.5 hours, and those additional hours were spent on other activities, such as playing games (Trivia Crack/Words with Friends), interacting on social media (FB and Instagram), texting, phone calls, checking email, time-tracking, watching television/movies/YouTube videos, or puttering around the house.

Week 2: 09 August – 15 August

During this week, I worked 33.5 hours at school and devoted 51 hours to sleep. This left me with 83.5 hours to spend in other areas of my life.

In that case, how did I spend those remaining 83.5 hours?

  • Morning Routine: 11 hours
  • Travel (to/from work; to/from other places): 6.75 hours
  • Family/Fur Babies/Friends: 8.75 hours
  • Chores: 6.5 hours
  • Exercise: 4.5 hours
  • Errands: 8 hours
  • Read: 3 hours
  • Meals: 3.5 hours
  • Content Creation (blog; collaboration with Kelsi-YouTube): 8.75 hours
  • Evening Routine: 2.25 hours

Therefore, 63 hours were spent with family/friends, exercising, creating content, fulfilling commitments/life responsibilities, and completing household tasks. My time bank still had 20.5 hours, and those additional hours were spent on other activities, such as playing games (Trivia Crack/Words with Friends), interacting on social media (FB and Instagram), texting, phone calls, checking email, time-tracking, watching television/movies/YouTube videos, or puttering around the house.


Clearly, no two weeks are exactly the same. And, all the banked hours are not entirely spent on effortless fun. Some of that extra time gets spent on small tasks that just take a minute or two, such as writing a grocery list, a message in a card, or a check for a bill. I may be purchasing an item or researching ingredients for a meal online. I might spend a few minutes clearing off the kitchen table, reshelving books that I recently finished reading, or snapping a picture for my Instagram gratitude project. With that being said, if I take the average of both weeks, I realistically have 14.5 hours that I could be using to complete courses that I have purchased, scrapbook, read more, or strength-train (fitness). It is now up to me to prioritize my time which will ultimately help me achieve my goals. Additionally, I must adhere to that scheduled time that also includes built-in wiggle room.

Why is wiggle room important? You just never know when something unexpected will require your attention, such as getting a call back for a play you auditioned for earlier in the week. Yep, I auditioned at the Columbia Theatre for The House on Haunted Hill this past Monday evening. Surprise! I got a call back for Wednesday evening. I auditioned strictly for the experience since I had a conflict the second weekend of the show. While it would have been terrific to be a part of this production, I did not get cast which is fine because Kelsi and I have oodles planned for September and October. Happiness Boost!

Thankfully, I have only one commitment after work this week, and it is to spend a wonderful evening with my fabulous book club friends to discuss Mexican Gothic. Therefore, for the remainder of today, I will schedule my upcoming week and create a to-do list of the tasks that I need to accomplish before this weekend. As for my running schedule, I’m on Week #4: Walk 10 minutes (warm up). Run 2 minutes. Walk 1 minute (repeat this 3-minute session 5 times). Walk 10 minutes (cool down). My goal for this week is to follow this routine at least three days this week. On the other days, I will walk at least 20 minutes to keep up my walking streak and try to incorporate some strength training and biking. I did not strength train or bike this past week.

Life is unpredictable, dear reader, but that is what makes it so interesting. My hubby, Andrew, and I enjoyed breakfast this morning at Cracker Barrel, and I treasured every minute we were together just being together. I’m excited to start a new week, especially one that is practically a blank slate. Enjoy your Sunday afternoon by spending your time doing something that boosts your happiness and adds value to your life. Happiness!

“When you feed your soul by spending time on things you love, that you are excited about, your enthusiasm becomes contagious.” ~ Rita Davenport

Top photo by Juan Vargas on Pexels.com

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In last week’s blog post, I wrote about honoring the time on the schedule. This week, I want to piggyback on that post with a few thoughts from a recent episode of Before Breakfast with Laura Vanderkam. Personally, I love when I discover that one of the strategies that I am effectively using to become a better time manager is already incorporating another time management strategy, and I just did not have a name for it. Of course, knowing my tendency (Questioner) and learning more about myself every day helped me to incorporate that strategy.

Laura Vanderkam recommends establishing a daily “must win” and then win at it. She picked up this time management strategy from Ashley Whillans, an assistant professor at Harvard Business School. This strategy of focusing on a daily must win comes from her recently published book, Time Smart: How to Reclaim Your Time and Live a Happier Life. Basically, get clear on the task that MUST get done per day, commit to it, accomplish it, and win at it. This doesn’t mean that only one task will be completed on the scheduled day, but it does mean that scheduling a must do will help with getting more accomplished.

Imagine my delight while listening to this episode and discovering that by managing by task, I’m also managing my time and winning at it. This is exactly the approach that I have been taking each Sunday morning when I create my weekly schedule. Some days there is only one task/activity scheduled in the afternoon/evening because I know something will crop up. For example, two weeks in a row, my hubby stayed in Hammond and wanted me to come meet him for an early dinner. One afternoon, it was on a Tuesday when I had an improv hangout scheduled. Last week, it was on Wednesday when I have my weekly RCIA class. This feels like a double win when I can get more done than what I have scheduled for any given day. Believe me, dear reader, I am never without things I can do when my plans fall through or I find myself with extra time. I keep a running list of tasks, projects, or activities for when that free time presents itself. Also, extra time means more time to read or scrapbook if I choose to just relax instead.

Tips from Laura Vanderkam: Win at Your Daily Must Win

  • Manage by task and not time.
  • Create short to-do lists.
  • Identify immediate priority for the day.
  • Designate the day’s “must do” and commit to win it.

With immense pleasure, I have completed today’s “must win” by writing this blog post and publishing it for your enjoyment, dear reader. It is time for Andrew and I to visit one of my favorite places, Books-A-Million, where I hope to purchase a mocha latte and Stephen King’s newest publication Later. Enjoy the rest of your weekend which may be your daily “must win.” Happiness!

“Anyone can pack a schedule. I think it takes some real discipline and a sense of one’s value to say, ‘No, my time is valuable to me, and I am going to spend it on the highest-value activities that I have determined are important for me and the people I care about.’” ~ Laura Vanderkam

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Photo by Olya Kobruseva on Pexels.com

Today is the last day of February. Yes, you read that right, dear reader! Another month of the new year is quickly coming to an end, leaving me with one more month of the first quarter of this year to complete or continue working on goals chosen from my 21 for 2021 list. On the whole, I am delighted with my progress. Some tasks are one and done while others are monthly and yearly goals that are helping me develop better habits.

Scheduling my time has been an effective strategy for me to meet my goals. Each week, I get better at scheduling the tasks or activities that I want to engage in during my extra time. It boils down to making decisions on the best use of my time. In fact, just last week, I had to come to terms with not having enough time or energy to declutter and organize the rooms assigned for this quarter. I put that goal on the back burner until I can finish with a weekly commitment that will end at the Easter Vigil. Scheduling my time is becoming a good habit for me and helping me to become a better time manager. With that being said, I still encounter hiccups along the way, and when I do, I adjust my schedule. Some hiccups are out of my control, but some of them are self-inflicted. I experienced both this week. Regardless of the occasional hiccup, honoring the time on the schedule is important.

My first hiccup was not receiving my last musical from Netflix on Monday. Apparently, the post office is having some hiccups of their own. Anyway, I had scheduled Monday evening to watch it. When it did not arrive, I used that 133 minutes to read and take care of other personal tasks. The movie is still MIA which means I cannot complete my marathon until Tuesday when the copy I ordered from Amazon arrives. Therefore, instead of scrapbooking this Tuesday evening, I’ll be watching Across the Universe. Thankfully, Kelsi and I will have our chat about musicals this upcoming weekend, so I’ll have plenty of time to get it viewed and reviewed beforehand.

My second hiccup occurred yesterday. I had scheduled working on my blogging course from 6:30-8:30 in the morning. Creating an ABOUT page for my blog was my assignment. (Please click on ABOUT in the previous sentence, check it out, and give me some feedback. It can always be changed and updated at anytime.) Even though I already had this page on my blog, I needed to update it. It was almost 11:00 in the morning by the time I finished. I spent two and a half additional hours on my course than what I had allotted on my schedule. I had other items on my list that needed to be accomplished. They included grocery shopping, dusting, cleaning the master bathroom, laundry, cleaning the other bathroom (leftover chore from Thursday), and scrapbooking from 2:00-4:00 in the afternoon. Thankfully, my hubby got off early on Friday and took care of grocery shopping. I did complete my laundry and cleaning the master bathroom. Dusting did not happen. Scrapbooking did not take place. You guessed it, the other bathroom didn’t get cleaned either. And, while I am on the subject of cleaning that bathroom, I am removing it as a task for Thursdays because I have only accomplished it once since I started scheduling my time which was the very first week. It keeps getting pushed to the weekend, so that is where it will be scheduled in the future. Additionally, I spent a great deal of time researching my next movie marathon which will start tomorrow and run through the end of April (details are forthcoming). I basically fell down a rabbit hole researching movies and did not crawl out until later in the evening. Consequently, those two chores and scrapbooking have been added to today’s schedule.

I know you are probably thinking, dear reader, what’s the big deal? In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a big deal. Be that it may, it IS a huge deal to me. While not receiving the musical was clearly out of my control, spending an additional two and half hours on my blogging course was definitely within my control. I could have easily honored the time on my schedule (work 6:30-8:30 a.m. on the blogging course), completed by chores, gone back to my blogging course until 2:00 p.m., spent two hours scrapbooking, and then fallen down the movie marathon rabbit hole. Honor the time on the schedule. Now that I have been schooled, it is time for me to schedule my upcoming week.

Two more weeks until Daylight Saving Time and currently experiencing warmer temps has gotten me super excited. More daylight in the evenings and warmer weather is a gamechanger for me. How about you? Enjoy the remainder of the weekend. Happiness!

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” ~ Maya Angelou

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Sunshiny Sunday Morning

Today is the last day of my vacation. Despite being gloomy and wintery for a good portion of my week off from work, it was pleasant being at home. The inclement weather easily swayed me to slow down and recharge. My hubby and I basically hibernated in front of the fireplace until Thursday. I scrapbooked one of the days, read a bunch every day, napped, and watched a couple of musicals.

The time off made me realize that I needed to adjust one of my goals (#6 Declutter and organize each room in my house.). The first quarter of the year is always difficult for me with lack of sunlight and colder temps. It makes me lethargic, and I generally shut down when it gets dark in the evening. I should have known better, especially with my weekly commitment with RCIA including a number of weekend commitments in March. Additionally, I was chosen to participate in Laura Vanderkam’s Tranquility by Tuesday Project which started on Wednesday. Both RCIA and Vanderkam’s project are worthwhile commitments that will end by mid-April. Therefore, decluttering and organizing each room in my house will be put on the back burner until that time. Of course, this does not mean that I cannot declutter if the mood strikes me. However, I’m giving myself permission to back off on that one goal temporarily. It’s purely a mental thing for me.

Only one week left in February, dear reader. Daylight Saving Time is three weeks away with the beginning of spring right on its heels. Hopefully, warmer weather will arrive soon. In the meantime, I will continue refining my habits, meeting my daily and monthly goals, and investing my time wisely. Happiness!

 “Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars, but remember to keep your feet on the ground.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt

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On Saturday morning, I finished reading Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear (#11 on my 21 for 2021 list). Terrific book! If anyone wants to develop good habits or break bad habits, I highly recommend this book. James Clear gives practical ways with readily comprehensible steps to build better habits and provides helpful resources.

If you’re having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn’t you. The problem is your system. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don’t want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change…Atomic habits are little habits that are part of a larger system and are the building blocks of remarkable results.

James Clear

One important idea from this book that has resonated with me is the difference between outcome-based habits and identity-based habits. Instead of asking myself what I want to achieve, I need to ask myself who I wish to become. This makes a huge difference. Instead of saying “I want to be amazing at managing my time so I can accomplish my goals,” I need to say “I want to become an amazing time manager which will allow me to reach my goals.” Easier said than done, right? Wrong! According to Clear, “the process only takes two simple steps: decide the person you want to be and prove it to yourself with small wins” (39).

Therefore, I’ve read the book, been given the tools to reshape my habits, and now it is time for me to do the work. My first task is to make a list of my daily habits and rate them as good, bad, or neutral. Thankfully, Clear provides free resources on his website, so I was able to get a template to create my own Habits Scorecard. I will be working on this task throughout the week.

Analyzing my habits goes hand in hand with time management. The key to being a good time manager is being efficient and effective. One observation that I have made in the past couple of weeks concerning my morning routine is the impact the order of my habits has on my overall time in the morning. I wake up at 4:30 every morning (Monday-Friday); however, there are some mornings I am struggling to get out the door on time while other mornings I have 15 minutes to spare. One contributing factor is when I take care of my fur babies. If I can use the first 10 minutes of my morning getting myself moving (going to the bathroom, taking my medicine, brewing my coffee, starting my breakfast), I will be much more effective with my time than if I start my morning taking the dogs out and feeding Puar. While the dogs are eating, I can unload the dishwasher, cut Andrew’s strawberries, and transfer laundry from the washer to the dryer (if applicable). A further factor is getting dressed for work. Instead of my clothes being in one central location (my closet), they are in different locations, requiring extra time to gather everything. Of course, my untidy closet is the culprit. Well, in all honesty, I am the culprit for keeping my closet untidy. Another factor that plays a part is what I decide to bring for lunch. My lunch decision determines the time it takes to prepare it. Putting together a salad (especially if you have to wash the lettuce) takes longer than making a sandwich which takes longer to make than grabbing already packaged leftovers. All of these factors can be adjusted quite easily. Making a few adjustments to my morning routine will be another task I will be undertaking this week.

I will continue to schedule my time, dear reader. Overall, it is working. The two areas that I struggled with this week were housekeeping tasks and my decluttering project. I did not declutter the office at all this week and do not see it even happening today since I will be using the time to catch up on chores that were not done during the week. I was able to keep up with laundry and cooking. I swept instead of vacuuming. My hubby is taking care of the grocery shopping this morning. I had the opportunity to proctor the ACT test at SLU yesterday morning and make some extra money, so I did not get to work on my blogging course or my scheduled chores. I could have done them when I got home at 1:00; however, I wanted to get some financial stuff done and finish writing out my Valentine cards. The remainder of the afternoon/evening was spent with family.

Obviously, the world did not end because I did not complete everything on my schedule for this week. Clearly, it is more satisfying when everything is accomplished and runs smoothly. Except, I am incapable of controlling unexpected situations (gastro distress, for example). I could have turned down the proctoring job; however, that would have been silly considering my schedule on Saturday could easily be adjusted to take advantage of making some extra money. The bottom line, dear reader, is about making good choices that enhance a richer and more joyful life, one worth living. Happiness!

“Time magnifies the margin between success and failure. It will multiply whatever you feed it. Good habits make time your ally. Bad habits make time your enemy.” ~ James Clear

Schedule: Week 3

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Reviewing schedule from the week of 24-30 January.

Overall, managing my time this past week was a huge success. Creating a schedule helped me maximize my time at home more effectively. For the most part, I completed everything that I set out to accomplish for the week. Therefore, the next step is to review the schedule, make revisions (what worked and what didn’t), and repeat the scheduling process for the upcoming week.

Review

Instead of spending 19 hours on tasks or activities I wanted to engage in this week, I spent 25.5 hours. I ended up with an additional 7.75 hours than the week I tracked my time. How is this possible? Well, on Sunday (01/24), it took me 3 hours to write my blog post instead of 4.5 hours. I gained 2.5 hours because I did not travel to and from anywhere to run errands, go to the movies, or eat at a restaurant. In addition, I did not sleep as long over the weekend. I woke up at 4:45 a.m. on Sunday (01/24) and 4:50 a.m. on Saturday (01/30). Over the weekend that I tracked my time, I woke up at 6:40 a.m. on both mornings. This left me with 1.25 hours that were spent on other unscheduled tasks (paying bills, watering plants, putting away groceries, etc.), Trivia Crack, hanging out with family, or puttering around the house.

The only task that I failed to finish this week was decluttering my office. I decluttered for a total of 4 hours this week (3 hours on Sunday and 1 hour on Tuesday). I was unable to declutter on Wednesday afternoon because Andrew was using the office. I didn’t declutter yesterday because I used an extra hour to complete a scrapbook layout, and I used another hour to clean the hall bathroom that I was unable to clean on Thursday. With that being said, the office does look better than it did last Sunday.

I spent 8 hours on chores for the week. If I could not complete a housekeeping task, I moved it to another day. I didn’t get to vacuum/mop the master bedroom or bathroom on Monday because that time was used to pick up new glasses for Andrew and me. I lost 1/2 of an hour of scrapbooking on Tuesday evening because of cooking later than normal. I did add a second load of laundry on Wednesday. Since I arrived home a 1/2 hour later and had to clean up Sophie’s potty accident on Thursday, I did not have time to clean the hall bathroom (moved to Saturday). On Friday, I vacuumed all of the rooms, including the ones that were skipped on Monday. Barry, Sr. volunteered to grocery shop alone on Saturday which allowed me to clean both bathrooms, do laundry, and dust. Later that afternoon, Barry Sr. and I cooked a new recipe together which took 2 hours.

I devoted 4 additional hours to my blog (Thursday) and blogging course (Saturday), 6 hours watching television (mainly Sunday), and 30 extra minutes reading (Sunday and Monday). I also enjoyed two days scrapbooking (Tuesday and Saturday), attending RCIA (Wednesday), and eating dinner at Mrs. Billie’s house with my family (Friday).

Scrapbook layout for Andrew’s Ireland scrapbook

Revise

After reviewing this past week and looking at what worked and what didn’t work, it’s time to revise the weekly schedule. Honestly, there is not much to change for the upcoming week. Kelsi decided not to livestream on Twitch today since she and her family are celebrating her mom’s birthday, so that time was rescheduled to write out my Valentine’s Day cards. I kept my daily routine, the housekeeping schedule, my course/blogging/writing schedule, and my self-care schedule the same. However, instead of scrapbooking on Tuesday evening, I will attend a virtual Improv hangout with my group from Anubis Improv. This allows me to scrapbook twice a month and participate in Improv twice a month. Tomorrow is the first day of February and the first day of the Musical Movie Marathon that Kelsi and I will be participating in throughout the month of February. I have scheduled my first musical for tomorrow evening.

As for decluttering the office, I will work in there today if I have the time and energy. If not, I will chip away at it throughout the week. Andrew’s room is next on the decluttering list, so I’ve scheduled myself to finish the office no later than Saturday (02/06), so I can begin working on his room.

Weekly Schedule for 31 January – 06 February

Repeat

It’s time to approach the new week again with a plan (schedule), a sufficient amount of sleep, and a positive attitude. When something works well, repeat the process. Hopefully, scheduling my time weekly will be a routine that helps me invest my time better so that I can spend it effectively on the tasks and activities that will allow me to live my best life. I must remember to be flexible when something unexpected happens because tasks or activities can be adjusted and assigned to another day. I must remember to be open to opportunities, especially with family and friends, because connection with those you love is super important.


It amazes me that today is the last day of January. I’m off to a terrific start with focusing on my goals for the year. I’m excited about the blogging course, having more time to write, watching musicals in February, and my forthcoming break in two weeks. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday, dear reader. Happiness!

“What you choose to dedicate your time to matters, not just for you but for all those who are affected by the withholding or the deliverance of your unique gifts.” ~ Debbie Ford

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According to my time log for the week of 11 January, I have 19 extra hours to invest in worthwhile endeavors. How will I fill those extra hours? First, I made the decision to break up this year into quarters. Next, I looked at my 21 for 2021 list and chose seven items that I want to work on for the remainder of this quarter (January-March). 

  • #1 Manage time.
  • #4 Eat more vegetables.
  • #6 Declutter and organize each room in my house.
  • #8 One NO spend month.
  • #11 Read Atomic Habits by James Clear.
  • #14 Take a WordPress Blogging Course.
  • #20 Scrapbook at least two times per month.

As part of my goal to manage time, I created a few realistic schedules that include the four areas (health, home, happiness as it relates to my career, and hobbies) that I am focusing on this year. The schedules include a daily routine, a housekeeping schedule, a decluttering schedule, a course/blogging/writing schedule, and a self-care schedule.

My daily routine has already been established; however, I’ve incorporated my daily challenges for this year within my daily routine. Therefore, #Read21in21 will take place in the morning, Walk 20 for 2021 will take place in the afternoon/evening, and writing in my gratitude journal will take place in the evening as part of my evening routine. Ideally, I’d like to post my daily Instagram photo in the morning. 

My housekeeping schedule has me completing certain tasks on specific days. Like many people, I don’t want to spend my entire weekend cleaning my house. In addition to the tasks that have been scheduled, I will load/unload the dishwasher, clean/wipe down kitchen and bathroom counters, and straighten up daily. Of course, there is some flexibility with this schedule. We did laundry (sheets and clothes) yesterday since Barry went grocery shopping on Friday, so no laundry for me today which means more time in another area.

My decluttering schedule has been organized by the month according to what is planned in our lives at that time. My goal is to declutter and organize each room in my house. Therefore, I will focus on the office for the remainder of January. I have assigned today, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday of this week to complete this room.

February will include Andrew’s room which will take no time at all since he keeps his room pleasantly clean and organized. There are some items in his closet that need to be removed, minor paint touch ups that need to be done, and artwork to be hung. Our spare room has inadvertently become a room to store stuff. This was Andrew’s bedroom when Barry, Jr. lived at home. It still houses much of Andrew’s stuff, some of Barry, Jr.’s stuff, and general stuff that has not found a permanent home in the house. Thus, we are devoting February and March to the spare room. Both my hubby and I are off for a week in February, so we are clearing everything out in February, so that we can paint and install crown moulding in March. March will also include the bathroom and hall that connects Andrew’s room and the spare room. Ambitious, I agree, dear reader, but totally necessary.  

My course/blogging/writing schedule will focus on my blog which will include both Thursdays and Sundays to write, edit, revise, and publish posts. Saturdays from 6:30-8:30 in the morning is when I have scheduled time to work on the WordPress Blogging course that I registered for back in December. I may also use Thursdays to work on the course if I am not working on anything specific for my blog. Even though I have been blogging for 10 years, I want to learn more about blogging and try to take my blog to the next level. 

Right now, my self-care schedule mainly includes getting enough sleep, writing in my gratitude journal, praying, and including time for my hobbies (reading and scrapbooking). I have scrapbooking time scheduled for Tuesday and Saturday of this week. My goal is to alternate scrapbooking with my improv hangouts on Tuesday evenings. Since, there is only one more Tuesday left in January, I’ve added Saturday to scrapbook, so I can meet my goal of scrapbooking twice per month. 

Of course, my schedule is also comprised of weekly commitments. I watch Kelsi’s livestream on Twitch on Sunday afternoons (2pm) and Thursday evenings (8pm). I attend RCIA meetings on Wednesday evenings with Mr. Mike (Shelly’s stepdad) who I am sponsoring to become Catholic at the Easter Vigil in April. My family and I have dinner with Mrs. Billie, my mother-in-law, every Friday. Now on Tuesday evenings, I will either be improvising or scrapbooking. In addition to the items or activities I have scheduled, I do write a daily to-do list to take care of tasks that need to be completed day-to-day, such as paying bills, errands, filling out forms, etc. 

I’m super excited about everything I have scheduled for this week, dear reader. So excited that I woke up at 4:45 this morning and got started right away on this blog post. I love having a plan, and I love accomplishing my goals even more. Everything I want to do this year is laying the groundwork to be my best self which I can accomplish by making the time to focus on the four areas that I have chosen with intention for this year. Naturally, unexpected situations will crop up, opportunities will present themselves, and movie marathons with Kelsi are inevitable; howbeit, schedules can be adjusted to accommodate the unanticipated or serendipitous. Happiness!

Puar helping me with my weekly schedule.

“If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.”                  ~ Bruce Lee

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Last week, I participated in Laura Vanderkam’s Time-Tracking Challenge. It was perfect timing since “manage time” is one of my goals for this year (#1 on my 21 for 2021 list). Participating in the challenge has given me a snapshot of how I spent my time for one week. Analyzing my time-tracking log from last week has given me a good idea of how many hours I realistically have to pursue worthwhile activities after time is spent on life’s major responsibilities and daily routines.

There are several methods to track time; however, I prefer recording my time with paper and pencil, so I used my planner. My week started out with 168 hours on Monday 11 January at 4:30 in the morning. Two categories that took up a huge chunk of my time were work (instructional coach at a PreK2-8th school) and sleep. 43.5 hours were spent at work, and 55.5 hours were spent sleeping (or trying to sleep). This left me with 69 hours for other tasks or activities, some more necessary than others.

So, how did I spend the remaining 69 hours of my week?

  • Morning Routine (M-F): 10.25 hours 

My morning routine consists of pet care for two dogs and a cat, personal care for myself, making coffee, preparing and eating breakfast, preparing my lunch, unloading the dishwasher, cutting up Andrew’s strawberries, and posting on FB (while eating breakfast). Sometimes, I may transfer a load of laundry that washed overnight into the dryer.

  • Travel to and from work (M-F): 3.25 hours
  • Travel to and from other places: 2.5 hours
  • Afternoon Routine (M-F): 2.5 hours (pet care for dogs and cat, unpacking lunch box and school bag)
  • Chores: 2.25 hours (cooking dinner twice, loading dishwasher, laundry)
  • Walk (20 for 2021 Challenge): 2.5 hours
  • Read (#Read21in21 Challenge): 3 hours
  • Journal and Instagram Post: 1 hour 

The walking and reading challenges, writing in my gratitude journal, and posting on Instagram are daily practices established for this year to increase happiness in my life.

  • RCIA: 2 hours (Wednesday evenings; includes travel time)
  • Meals: 5.5 hours (dinner M-F; lunch/dinner on Saturday and Sunday)
  • Evening Routine (M-F): 3.5 hours (shower; take dogs out before bed)
  • Blog: 4.5 hours (Sunday-write, edit, revise, publish)
  • TV Shows/Movies: 6 hours
  • Twitch: 1.25 hours (Kelsi’s livestream on Sunday)

As a result, 37 hours were spent on life responsibilities, 5.75 hours were spent traveling, and 7.25 hours were spent watching television shows, movies, or Twitch for a total of 50 hours.

I still had 19 hours left over in my weekly bank of hours which I spent playing games (Trivia Crack or Words with Friends), scrolling through social media (mainly FB), texting, phone calls, email, time-tracking, or puttering around the house. I did spend a little more than usual time on FB and texting this week because my birthday was on Monday, and I wanted to read and respond to all of my wonderful birthday wishes. I spent 3 hours on Monday evening on email, text, and Facebook. On Tuesday, I spent an additional hour or so on FB and texting. I definitely do NOT feel badly about spending my time this way because it was a huge happiness boost to receive so many kind messages, and it was a terrific way to start the week.

Additionally, there were some moments during the week that were spent doing things that only took a minute or two. Going through the mail, writing a check, writing a message in a birthday card, or reading an article sent by a friend were all worthy of my time and may not take up much time in and of itself, but all together, the time adds up. Quite often, I squeezed these little tasks in between major tasks. These little tasks end up in my “puttering around the house” category.

What’s next? The second step is to determine what areas I want to focus on for the remainder of the first quarter of this year. Once I have determined which goals I want to tackle using my extra time, I will create schedules to help me stay on track and accomplish those goals. I’m a planner; however, I’m also flexible so that if an opportunity to spend time with family or friends arises, I will adjust my schedule to take advantage of that special time.

Of course, dear reader, this is just one week out of many weeks. Every week looks a little differently, but every week generally has extra time that can be spent doing something that is important to me. Personally, I think it is beneficial to occasionally track time in order to evaluate if I’m spending my time well and spending it on activities that bring me joy. In fact, in January of 2018, I wrote and published a blog post or two about me time-tracking. For myself, time-tracking is worth the time, especially when it leads to a more enriching life. Happiness!

“When we know where the time goes, then we do take more ownership of it … and we can celebrate the things that are working and change the things that aren’t.” ~ Laura Vanderkam

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Back in June, I had listened to Episode #6 (“Dial D for Distracted”) of Season 2 of The Happiness Lab podcast. The episode included an enlightening conversation between Dr. Laurie Santos and Catherine Price, a science journalist and author of How to Break Up With Your Phone. Shortly after listening to the episode, I bought Price’s book because I felt like I had a phone problem. After reading the first part of the book called The Wake-Up, I scheduled The Breakup which is a hands-on approach to establishing a healthier relationship with your phone. The experience of breaking up with my phone revealed surprising information about myself, my relationship with my phone, and helpful tips to dealing with screen time in general. 

Initially, I thought I was addicted to my phone. After spending 30 days  (July 06-August 04) breaking up with my phone, I realized that I had an unhealthy relationship with screens in general, specifically internet-related screens and mainly with social media. And, that relationship, which was having an adverse effect on my mental health and well-being, took root rather quickly and stemmed from the uncertainty and isolation brought about from COVID-19. At the start, it was fun staying connected through Facebook, playing games, and taking silly quizzes. Additionally, lots of time was spent watching the news, scrolling daily through data on COVID, and reading articles about life during the pandemic. Unfortunately, as time passed, fun was replaced with feeling depleted and numb which then turned into shame. And, being “informed” nonstop about the pandemic and its negative effects on the world was causing me to become anxious. For three months, I spiraled down the rabbit hole of mindless scrolling and unconscious living. Without having the ability to freely go places or engage in work or social activities with other people outside your pod made me feel stagnant. Except for my daily walk, I was not spending my spare time intentionally.

Break up PhoneThankfully, Catherine Price’s handbook brought me back to reality and helped me reclaim my time and sanity. The first task Price assigned was downloading a time-tracking app on my phone. I chose Moment which she recommended in the book for iPhone users. In my opinion, this app is helpful. I still have it on my phone. My goals were set for 3 hours of screen time and 50 pickups. Looking at my Moment Data, it is clear that I rarely go over my screen time or my pickups. There was one day that my screen time was 6 hours and 47 minutes. This was the day that Shelly was taken to the ER in Florida. Texting was our line of communication between one another and our friends. My heaviest pickup day was 12 August with 68 pickups. School was back in session, so most of my pickups were school-related texts. For me, this app curbs my craving to constantly check my phone or reach for it to check Facebook, so that is the main reason I still have it on my phone.  

On Day 5 of the plan, Price recommends deleting social media apps. The only social media apps that I have on my phone are Facebook and Instagram. I immediately deleted Facebook. I rarely use Instagram, so there was no need to delete it. The point was to make accessing these apps more difficult and less appealing. It worked! I have since reinstalled the Facebook app on my phone; however, my time on the app is limited to mainly posting pictures/inspirational content and checking on family/friends, and my usage is at designated times of the day and for a designated amount of time. On Day 9 of the plan, she recommends tidying up your apps by organizing them in categories. This was quite simple since I don’t have many apps on my phone. My only junk food app is Trivia Crack which is an enjoyable game. While it can be a big time suck, it did not consume as much of my time as Facebook, so I chose not to delete it. Since the breakup, I have limited my game time tremendously.

Days 20 and 21 were the most challenging part of the plan. This is the trial separation from your phone for 24 hours. I chose 7:00 in the evening on Friday, 24 July through the following evening on Saturday, 25 July. In addition to disconnecting from my phone, I also disconnected from my other devices. In the beginning of the trial separation, I was antsy. My main concern about this assignment was someone trying to reach me since my phone is also my family’s home phone. To put my mind at ease, I turned my ringer on, so I could answer any calls. Checking text message was limited to twice during the 24 hour period. Once I accepted the challenge and put my phone away, I felt lighter and excited about the next 24 hours. From my data log, the screen time and pickups on Friday were prior to 7:00 that evening. On Saturday, the data shows 4 minutes of screen time and 4 pickups. Clearly, my time was well-spent, and I felt a sense of freedom.

At first, the hardest or worst part of the breakup was feeling disconnected from others virtually. In addition, observing others constantly reaching for and checking their phones made me feel uncomfortable. Unfortunately, our world relies too much on technology to feed the mind and soul. I kept a time log during my breakup to see where my time was going when not using my phone. In the beginning, I discovered I was playing a bunch of Words with Friends on my iPad, as well as scrolling mindlessly through Facebook. Fortunately, the best part of this experience outweighed the worst part. I quickly realized that I hadn’t become addicted to my phone, but to social media and games. Luckily, I now view my phone more as a tool that allows me to communicate with others both personally and professionally, listen to podcasts and music, access necessary information (maps, email, appointments, etc.), and record memories through pictures, video, and audio. Facebook is no longer on the main screen of my phone and is no longer checked first thing in the morning. Trivia Crack is played daily but only for a few minutes. Since the breakup, I put my phone away more often when working on tasks or participating in activities. I find that I am more creative, more focused, and happier. As for other devices, I limit any frivolous time spent on them. I would rather use my time to write, scrapbook, read, play card/board games, watch something on television, or spend time with family and friends. 

Breaking up with my phone was a valuable experience, dear reader. I gained new insight about myself, gained more time to be creative, and gained healthier habits with screens. If you feel like you have a phone problem or a social media problem, I would highly recommend How to Break Up With Your Phone by Catherine Price. For more information on budgeting screen time, check out Episode 23 (“Good Screens and Bad Screens”) of Season 1 of The Happiness Lab podcast and Catherine Price’s website Screen/Life Balance. Happiness! 

“The difference between technology and slavery is that slaves are fully aware that they are not free.” ~ Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Game

This is “The Royal Game of Ur” created by Andrew’s girlfriend Aileigh as a gift to Andrew which I recently learned to play in my spare time.

 

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So, after perusing my time logs for the last three weeks that I tracked my time (01/22, 01/29, 02/05), I made three observations.small clock

Observation #1: My work weeks are not created equal. And, neither is my personal time.

Week 3: School – Due to the two ice days the previous week, Monday changed from a professional development day with no students to a regular day of school. Tom from Kagan came to observe my teaching structure on Tuesday. I had a school-related meeting after school on both Monday and Wednesday.

Week 3: Personal – I took the day off of work on Tuesday to accompany Son #1 to the VA Hospital in New Orleans which lasted until about 11:15, so I was home before 12:30. This allowed me to complete some personal tasks and errands before picking Andrew up from school. Except for Wednesday afternoon, I picked Andrew up from either school or tennis practice every afternoon this week. Son #1 picked Andrew up for me on Wednesday afternoon because of my meeting, and the three of us met at La Caretta for dinner.  Grocery shopping on Friday evening.

Week 4: School – This was Catholic Schools Week. Mass schedule (shorter classes) on both Monday (CSW Mass) and Tuesday (CSW Faculty Breakfast). Open House on Tuesday evening. Andrew got a ride home on Tuesday afternoon, so I stayed at school to work before Open House.

Week 4: Personal – I had a doctor’s appointment on Monday which led to picking up a prescription in Mandeville that was followed by a 6:00pm meeting with Andrew at STA. Wednesday was another doctor’s appointment for me that was followed by me picking Andrew up from tennis practice. On Thursday, my mother-in-law was checked into the hospital, so Andrew and I visited with her after school. On Friday, Andrew had tennis practice, then a dermatology  appointment.  Grocery shopping on Friday evening.

Week 5: School – ACT Aspire administered on Monday and Tuesday which meant shorter class periods. NJHS meeting after school on Monday and a staff development meeting on Wednesday afternoon (missed because of my doctor’s appointment).

Week 5: Personal – Since I bought a new car, Andrew was able to start driving himself to school and tennis practice. Tuesday was the only day I had to drive him to and from school. I had another doctor’s appointment on Wednesday afternoon. Grocery shopping on Friday evening.

Lesson #1: Planning is the key to not losing my mind both professionally and personally. Thankfully, I am a planner by nature. The stress comes in when juggling too many commitments on one day. Hopefully, buying the new car will lessen my load personally since Andrew can get to his practices and appointments on his own. In addition to planning, acceptance is needed with my school schedule. I have no control over the schedule; however, I have control over my content. 

Observation #2: Despite working seven days a week on schoolwork during Weeks 3 and 4 and five days during Week 5, I worked less than 50 hours each week (Week 3 – 41hrs 42 min; Week 4 – 49 hours 13 min; Week 5 – 43 hours 27 min). Lesson #2: Based on my time logs, having school-related meetings, leaving after school to either pick Andrew up from school/tennis practice, or having to go to a doctor’s appointment seems to determine how much schoolwork gets done after the bell rings at the end of the day. Also, I’m pretty much done once the sun goes down. I feel like I work all the time, and I attribute this to working on the weekends. Of course, I only have 35 students this year and more time off during the school day. This cuts down significantly on the amount of time spent on grading papers. Since Andrew can now drive, I think I will be able to work more after school and less on the weekends. Fingers crossed!

Observation #3: Interruptions are apparently a norm in both my professional and personal life. Intellectually, I was aware of the interruptions; however, until I studied my time logs, I had no idea how many there were and how they impacted my day both at work and at home. Weather, illness (developed another abscess and MIL had a mini-stroke ), my children, husband, co-workers, students, friends, acquaintances, procrastination, the phone, and the list goes on and on. Lesson #3: While interruptions can slow you down and sometimes hinder progress, they are also good reminders to take care of yourself, socialize with the people you love, and recharge. Interruptions are part of life. You can either be amenable or frustrated. Depending on what is going on in my life, I experience both feelings. For me, planning helps alleviate some of the stress attached to interruptions. Of course, interruptions probably contribute to me having to complete schoolwork on the weekends. 

So, there you have it, dear reader. I gleaned a plethora of information about myself just from keeping track of my time. Since I was on vacation, I took this past week off from tracking my time; however, I will start tracking it again tomorrow. I’m interested to see what these next three weeks will reveal about how I am spending my time, especially with Andrew driving his own vehicle. And, I’m curious to learn how the time change will affect how I spend my time in the coming months.

Have an absolutely delightful week working on whatever it is that makes you happy. Remember to remain positive even in the midst of interruptions. Happiness!

“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own,’ or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life — the life God is sending one day by day.” ~ C.S. Lewis, The Collected Works of C.S. Lewis 

 

 

 

 

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