Tell me–what’s one of the most common responses when someone asks, “How have you been?” A good percentage of those answers, at least in the western world, will range from “busy” to “crazy busy.” Our lives are full. We are maxed out and pressed for time.
Or are we?
After Toni shared this post on time tracking, I decided to buckle down and log my hours for an entire week. This took two tries, because I initially tried to use a printable log from Laura Vanderkam, only to discover that 15-minute time slots can be overwhelming. I started over (on a Wednesday—the perfectionist in me hated that) and faithfully logged July 27-August 2.
What time tracking looks like for this work-at-home mom:
I think it’s a safe guess that most work-at-home professionals, especially of the entrepreneurial category, find their days a patchwork of tasks and activities. One look at my log (color coded to help me analyze it) reveals that I am all over the place.
In this first log, the colors are as follows:
Yellow: morning routine
Green: work logged
Orange: focused time spent with my kids
Orange with blue hashes: family time
Turquoise: time with James
Purple: me time
Note: my first log I marked any naps as purple “me time,” but in my second log I turned any time spent sleeping as a darker blue.
One struggle for me was logging a week when I neglected to wake at a consistent hour. Five of the days I got up by 5:30, but on two of those days I ended up dozing on the couch. On the other two days of the week I slept until 8am one morning and 9am on another.
Now, while sleeping in two days per week might seem normal, my goal is for a consistent wake time in order to keep my body on a healthy rhythm. As I noted in this post, consistent wake times force more consistent sleep times and also cut down on my struggles with insomnia.
How the hours of my week added up:
Please note that the hours recorded exceed 168 (24×7). This is due to the fact that sometimes things fell into two categories. I would usually give one item full credit for that time and the other one half-credit. One example is the evening of Saturday, July 30th. I watched TV from 9-11pm. During that time, I also worked on an editing project. When calculating my hours, I wrote two hours of television and one hour of editing.
Morning routine: 14.25 hours
This is the time I spend exercising, practicing my Miracle Morning, showering, and getting ready. Across the board, this takes roughly two hours, although a close look at my “lazy days” shows that sometimes those hours are split up throughout the morning.
Kid time: 25 hours
When recording “kid time,” I only wanted to record time actively spent playing with or sitting with my kids. This included meals, reading, art, outside play, baths, visits to Grandma, and bedtime preparations. As my children are home with me full-time, this number could technically be closer to 50 (allowing for time I spent away from home, plus naps, etc.). However, I only wanted to log focused time, not ambient time.
Work: 29.25 hours
This number honestly shocked me. I expected something closer to 10-15 hours, especially while juggling two kids. And I’m sure that not all of those hours were as focused as they might be—things never are when you’re called to move back and forth between foci. But I suspect that someone who works 40 hours a week is also not 100% productive across the board.
Family time: 8.5 hours
The majority of our family time takes place around the dinner hour, and yes, we take an hour to eat most days. While the kids might not be with us that entire time, they are close at hand. On a more temperate week (such as one with temperatures below 100), we might end up spending more time together outside as well.
Time with James: 14 hours
This is one area where I feel that logging my hours made me more aware of how I spent them. Rather than fold laundry in the bedroom, I cleaned the kitchen while James sat at the table and we chatted. One night he cleaned and filled the kiddie pool, so I joined him out back while he did so. On the evening he cleaned his golf clubs outside, I gathered up my planning paraphernalia and joined him at the picnic table. We didn’t talk the entire time, but we were together.
Me time: 20 hours
This number shocked me even more than the 29 work hours I logged. As a work-at-home mom, I don’t feel like I have a lot of “me time,” yet this log tells a different story.
How did I spend those 20 hours?
- Three hours were spent on two different visits with friends
- Three-and-a-half hours were devoted to reading (this doesn’t count my morning reading)
- I “wasted” five-and-a-half hours watching TV, although some of that time I doubled up by doing work (for which I only gave myself ½ credit, as I was distracted)
- Roughly two hours were devoted to crafts and/or drawing
- I recorded daily and weekly planning time as “me time,” because it feeds my soul. On planning, I spent at least three hours.
- Three hours were spent running errands, but I talked on the phone during that time, listened to podcasts (a treat for me), and made a stop to paint my nails at my parents’ house.
- The remaining hours were spent on projects, social media (Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube are my weaknesses), and one place I wrote simply: rest.
Sleep: 63 hours
During this week, I logged five-and-a-half hours napping. Tell me that’s not embarrassing to share. I also discovered that my body needs between eight and nine hours of sleep in order to function well—something I’ve always wondered about. But at 63 hours of sleep logged, that averages out to nine hours per day.
In this first log, I didn’t record and/or count time spent on chores. And, as with all systems devised by humans there are gaps. Perhaps I logged onto Facebook or Instagram for work purposes (green) but stuck around to browse (purple).
A time tracking challenge for you
There were several astonishing take-aways from this exercise. Next week I’ll share with you my conclusions based on the hours I logged. But in the meantime, I offer you this challenge: take the following week and log your hours. You can access a time log broken into 30-minute segments that easily fits onto one page (printed front and back) in the Goodies section of the blog. If you’re not yet a tribe member (or, if you’ve forgotten the password), sign up in the box at the end of this post.
If you’re brave enough to share your time log on Instagram, feel free to tag @ScatteredK. I’d love to see how this experiment works for you.
And remember: no self-judgement allowed. This is a learning process. Let’s go log some hours and learn!