It’s been almost a whole week since I posted last and I’m happy to say I stuck with the idea of re-evaluating how I’ve been managing my time. I also did what I said I’d try to do…I tracked my time for a week. It wasn’t too difficult, really, but that was mainly because I was able to track my blocks of time in hours rather than minutes.
So what have I learned from tracking my time?
I’ve learned that there’s a reason why I don’t get much done during the week. There really aren’t enough hours in the day!
For most, the bulk of each week day includes around 8 hours for sleep and 12 hours for the work day (to include the drive time, work hours and lunch time). Not that I actually get 8 hours of sleep. Does anyone? But lately I’ve been doing my best to keep a 10p bedtime and I’m reluctantly rolling out of bed at 6a the next morning. Then from 6a until 6p each evening, the week days involve getting ready for work, the drive to work, putting in those work hours and finally driving home. Maybe some of you have a short distance to work…that’s fortunate in some respect. For those who have a half hour or longer to drive to or from work, it’s actually a great time to prepare for the day or to spend time shedding the day from your mind before getting back home.
Sleep for 8 hours…gone from the house due to work for 12 hours…. that’s a consumption of 20 out of the 24 hours allotted to us every week day. Those remaining 4 hours might include spending time with the family, preparing dinner, cleaning the kitchen after dinner, helping the kids with homework, taking care of any necessary chores that can’t wait until the weekend, and unwinding in front of the television, with a book or on the computer catching up with friends and family on Facebook. For parents with kids in sports, many of those remaining 4 hours are already spoken for a couple of days a week due to practices and games and the driving time to and from those events. I remember those days…actual dinners were a thing of the past and quick meals or dinner on the road became the norm.
Weekends are when we have more free time for fun and family as we also spend time catching up on what we could not complete during the week, or what we need to do to prepare for the upcoming week. Better weather will be here soon and many of those weekend hours will be spent working in the garden or mowing the lawn in addition to family outings just to get away from the house to enjoy the summer weather.
Based on the average work week, we have around 4 free hours every day and on the weekends, if you factor in an 8a to 10p schedule (give or take), we have 14 free hours on Saturday and on Sunday. That’s a total of 48 hours each week beyond what the day job takes from us. It’s actually more than a whole work week and gives us plenty of hours to work with.
So why have I felt more busy than productive lately? I think it’s because of the times I had chosen to get things done in my attempt to be more productive.
Only recently did I realize I should get to bed earlier, to allow myself a better night’s rest so that I could be more focused during the day. Sounds like a no-brainer, huh? I’m a slow learner after being a night owl for so long. Before I began forcing myself to bed early, I would come home from work, spend time with the family, eat dinner, clean up the kitchen and take care of any other necessary chores, maybe watch some television and then finally head upstairs to write until my eyes got blurry, at which time I’d head to bed around 11p or even 11:30p. But late in the evening wasn’t always a productive time for me to write, especially on those days when I was exhausted from the work day and my mind just wanted to shut down for the night. And only recently did I realize that when it comes to my weekly task list, there’s no reason why I have to do everything on that list, every…single…day. If I can do a little bit every day to make the rest of the week easier, great. But there’ no reason I have to fit in 10 different tasks during those 4 free hours in the evening just because I feel I need to show some productivity and don’t want to put it off for the weekend. Doing so just made me feel constantly busy from always doing too much during such a short span of time after an already busy work day.
With the changes I’ve made recently and keeping the fact that I’m not perfect always in the back of my mind, I’m happy with the results after keeping track of my time for a week. I find I’m actually not squandering my time away as I had feared and the time I find to write is when I can actually make the most of the time spent writing. Even more important while I continue to work on my time management skills is what I have taken to heart while trying to figure out what works: taking advantage of when I have the time and energy to write, and forgiving myself for the times when I don’t, are what will count as I move forward as an author.