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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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Time Log ExampleExcept for today, which is not over yet, I tracked my time all week. As I mentioned in my last post, this week was an unusual week at work because the majority of my 8th graders were visiting Washington, D.C. Although my work schedule was very different, my morning routine was pretty consistent Monday through Friday. Weekend mornings are very different. My evening routine this week was consistent with how I spent my evenings; however, they were unusual in a sense because of my work schedule.  So, what did I learn about how I spent my time this week? I made three observations from my time log which I am keeping in a small notebook.

Observation #1: I spent an average of two hours each evening watching television/playing games with the exception of Friday evening (attended a wedding in New Orleans). The majority of that time was watching television. I admit that I love watching television and movies. I watched two movies (A Monster Calls and It Comes at Night), a new episode of the X-Files, and several episodes of Parks and Recreation on Netflix. The games that I play are Trivia Crack and Words with Friends. Generally, I play these games while waiting somewhere, eating, during commercials, or riding in the car. I spent 1 hour and 5 minutes this week playing these games when I could have been using that time doing something more productive: reading, exercising, organizing my master closet, reconciling my checkbook, downloading pictures, etc. Lesson #1: I have control over the choices that I make about how I spend my time. I need to prioritize my time better this year in order to achieve my goals and pursue my interests.

Observation #2: During the work week, I get up anywhere between 4:00 and 4:30 in the morning. It depends on my day and if I need to leave home earlier or complete an additional task before leaving the house. I wake up later on the weekends or during the holidays when I am off of work. Generally, I get up anywhere between 6:30 to 8:00 on weekend mornings or when I am off of work. I admit that I am not a lark and despise getting up early. I would much prefer going to bed later and getting up when the sun is coming up. Unfortunately, my work day begins between 7:00 and 7:20. It depends on if I have morning duty or a meeting prior to morning assembly at 7:35. Sleep experts will tell you to wake up at the same time every day, even on the weekends. If for some reason you stay up later than your normal bedtime, you still set the alarm to get up when you normally get up; however, you go to bed earlier the following evening. Lesson #2: As long as I am teaching, I have to choose one time to get up in the morning and stick to it, even on the weekends. Although this will be hard for me initially, especially on the weekends, I definitely need to make this adjustment in order to feel better mentally and physically, and  it will create more time to accomplish my goals and pursue my interests.

Observation #3: I tend to multi-task by using the Strategy of Pairing. This strategy written about by Gretchen Rubin in her book Better than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives, pairs an activity that you need or want to complete with one that you may not really want to complete. Looking through my time log, I realize that I do it quite often. For example, while I am cooking breakfast or dinner, I will also unload the dishwasher. While I am eating breakfast, I am checking my email or creating a to-do list. I also listen to podcasts while exercising or completing household chores. Lesson #3: Pairing can be effective, but only if it does not contain bad habit formation or distracts you in any way that could be dangerous to you or someone else. Pairing allows me to get many tasks completed more efficiently which will free up more time for me to accomplish my goals and pursue my interests.

TeamIn other news this week…I had a birthday on Thursday. I am officially 49 years old which means this year is my last year in my 40s. Despite having to work on my birthday, it was still wonderful. I received cards, texts, phone calls, emails, and Facebook messages from friends and family. My awesome team at school surprised me with sweet treats and a birthday card. My friend Terri who was chaperoning my students in Washington, D. C. face timed me, so they could sing me happy birthday. And, my hubby unexpectedly made it home that evening with take-out and a slice of birthday cheesecake. It was a simple yet satisfying day.

I will continue tracking my time this week. As you can see from my observations and lessons learned from this week,  managing my time more effectively will open up the time I need to be successful this year in all areas of my life. I hope, dear reader, that you are accomplishing your goals or pursuing your interests. If you are tracking your time, please let me know. I would love to know what you discover about yourself and how you spend your time. Happiness!

“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” ~ Michael Altshuler

 

 

 

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ClockI struggle with time management and hope 2018 will be the year I can tame the beast. Therefore, I decided to sign up for Laura Vanderkam’s  168 Hours Time Tracking Challenge which begins tomorrow, 08 January. Time tracking is #17 on my list of 18 for 2018. Vanderkam’s challenge is only for one week; however, I am planning to track for a few weeks to get a truer picture of how I spend my time.

Tomorrow will be my first day back at work and Andrew’s first day back at school. He has been off of school since 15 December, and I have been off of work since 21 December. Except for spending a few hours in my classroom during the holidays working on my classroom library, so Andrew and Claire could earn service hours, neither one of us have done any school work since we got out. For once in my teaching career, I took completely off during Christmas break. Honestly, I needed the brain break.

This first week back will be an unusual week for me because most of my 8th graders will be in Washington, D.C., and I will be chaperoning the Hammond trip for the 8th graders who stayed home. Consequently, my work schedule will not be typical. That is fine because I’m tracking all my time which includes my personal time. I feel like I spend too much time working; therefore, the main objective for tracking my time is to figure out how to carve out more personal time to achieve my goals for the future.

I’ll keep you posted on this challenge, dear reader. Have a blessed and productive week. Happiness!

“Time is the most valuable coin in your life. You and you alone will determine how that coin will be spent. Be careful that you do not let other people spend it for you.” ~ Carl Sandburg

 

 

 

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