A couple times a year, I track my time. You think you know what you’re spending it on, but when you actually analyze it, you find some surprising things. They say you can tell a person’s priorities by looking at their wallet (receipts – what do they spend their money on) and their calendar. Tracking how you spend increments of time is one of the most revealing actives you can do. Here’s a sample of what an average day looked like for me.
Friday Time Tracking
7-8:30: Wake up, get ready, pack gym bag and Eve’s school snacks. Nibble on oatmeal. Drop Eve off at school, drive to gym.
8:30-9:15: Work in the locker room. Finish magazine article. Update Instagram and Twitter.
9:15-10:30: Spin class, shower, drive home.
10:30-12:15: Eat leftover quinoa porridge, texts to arrange upcoming girl’s night out and sort dog babysitting. Throw in laundry. Work on a newspaper article.
12:15-1:45: Pick up Eve from school. Drive to Dan’s office to pick up Buddy (dog) who had a haircut that morning. Crash a co-worker’s farewell lunch. Eat their food.
1:45: Back home, get girls sorted.
2-3:15: Finish Herald article.
3:15: Take kids and dog to dog park (super close!).
3:30-4: Drop dog at home, take kids to park and bank.
4-5:45: Hang out at board game cafe. This ends up being more fun than anticipated. I end up ordering a glass of wine and a piece of flatbread and call it dinner.
5:45-6:15: Back home. Girls play, while I attack email.
6:15: Get girls’ dinner ready.
6:30-7: Read final (finger’s crossed) of book edits. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t.
7-7:15: Pay bills, track invoicing.
7:15-30: Clean up, pack up for yoga.
7:30-9:15: Drive to hot yoga, take class, shower, drive home.
9:15-10: Check in on girls, have a bath.
Analyzing your time
What did I learn from this sample day? First off, there is no normal. Every day seems to have some hiccup or unordinary thing like a doctor’s visit, or in my case, a child with a half day of school. Also, I don’t spend a lot of time on my appearance. I guess it’s not a priority for me.
My biggest take away, however, is I have more free time then I thought. I only put in four hours of work that day. If I’m really under the gun, I can structure my day differently: skip a work out, wake up earlier, etc…
Consequently, I could’ve left the girls alone at the board game cafe, but I didn’t want to. They needed a bit of a push, as they originally weren’t so jazzed about the idea. It ended up being a hoot. We were able to sample a bunch of games that weren’t in our regular repertoire, and Eve is keen to buy one of them (with her own money!). It was also a cool discovery. Now we have a nearby option when it’s too cold to play outside.
Integrators vs compartmentalizers
My second takeaway is that I’m an integrator. I first heard of this notion from Gretchen Rubin’s Happier podcast (highly recommend it). Integrators are able to mix a lot of different activities into their day and easily switch between them. They’re the type of people to fire off work emails on weekends and don’t get upset when their spouse’s boss calls at 6:30 p.m. on Friday nights. Truly, it doesn’t bug.
Compartmentalizers are like, work is work and play is play. They pity me for working every weekend. They clock out mentally after they leave the office. As my previous co-worker, now good friend Sarah once told me, “They don’t pay us enough to worry about these problems after work hours.” In some ways, I envy these people because when work is done, it’s truly done and out of their minds. They can go on a beach vacation and straight chill for an entire week. I think I’d go nuts without taking notes.
There’s no right or wrong way to be. The key is knowing and accepting who you are. I used to feel guilty about working these ad-hoc hours, but they allow me to do the stay-at-home mom stuff that’s important to me. People who tut tut about me writing this on a Sunday, don’t know about all the breaks I have in my Monday to Friday schedule.
So there you have it. Track your time and you’ll find some pretty interesting things about yourself. I bet you’ll find that like me, you have more time than you think. You can download time tracking spreadsheets here.
Have you ever tracked your time? What did you learn from the experience?