Thursday, June 17, 2010

Wish You Had More Time for Your Hobbies?

I often have people marvel that I can get so much knitting done while working full time, etc etc. (Remember when the county fair people didn't really believe that I had knit all those things by hand?!) My glib reply is that I don't cook or clean. They don't usually believe me, but it's mostly true. Plus I make sure I [almost] always have a portable project going to fill the times when I'm waiting, unexpectedly delayed, or you know, stopped by a train.

But this week I am taking a more serious look at how I use my time, inspired (or should I say, goaded?) by Laura VanderKam's book 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think and her 168 Hours Challenge. It's too late to join for prizes, but as she says, you can start a time log anytime and just keep it going for 168 hours. (That's one week, in case you hadn't figured that out yet. 7 x 24.) If you want to use her spreadsheet you can get a copy here.

And what have I been doing this week? Starting Monday morning, and until Thursday at 10pm, I have spent:
Work stuff:
27 hours at work (notice I didn't say, working ::wink:: I decided to keep it simple and just count hours at work, not to categorize the work and/or wasted time. I'm paid by the hour. I have to be there. When I'm not there, I'm not working. So I think this works.)
1.75 hours putting up siding
2.25 hours on a project I can't write about publicly, but it's very important stuff
Total: 31 hours

Routine stuff:
1 hour on keeping the time log (and adding totals, etc)
4.25 hours driving (this is under-reported, but that's how it goes)
.5 hours on errands
.25 hours volunteering
1.75 hours eating (I think this is very low; partly because I've skipped meals)
.25 hours on banking
2.25 hours on "getting ready" (showering etc)
1.5 hours at small group
.75 hours talking with Troy
3.25 hours on gardening/mowing
2 hours cleaning/organizing (way higher than normal since I'm deep cleaning the house room by room for Troy's big bday extravaganza)
1.25 hours cooking (I cooked on Wed and took a long time about it!)
20.5 hours spent sleeping (should definitely be higher)
Total: 39.5 hours

Fun stuff:
1.25 hours spent reading (one sports mag and finishing Laura's book)
2 hours spent blogging (not counting the time to write this yet!)
3.25 hours working on a photobook for Troy's big bday extravaganza
2 hours knitting (this is very low compared to normal! I think because of the hours I've put in on the photobook)
1 hour on email/FB (very underreported since I do a lot at work)
1.25 hours talking with sisters on the phone (kind of skewed since two called me this week)
.25 hours of TV plus 1 hour while I was primarily doing other stuff. (This is way way less than normal. It looks better when you keep time logs when there are no premieres or finales. Ha ha.)
1.5 hours of socializing/shopping at Red Purl
Total: 12.5 hours

Now, keeping the time log doesn't automatically make more time for you to have fun. You just use it to notice where you're losing time on things you don't want to do. (Like, say, mowing for 3+ hours a week.) Then you try to figure out how you can get rid of those things you don't like and are not particularly good at, and then use that free time to do things you do like and are good at. It can also really smack you in the face with the time you might be wasting. For me, totaling my TV hours during the regular season might really make a point about how all that time really adds up. Others may realize their commute's too long, or they spend too much time getting ready in the morning.

I think the really hard part comes after you've made some changes to your schedule or habits: actually using the time for good and worthwhile things you want to do. For setting and reaching goals. And constantly asking yourself, "Is this the best use of my time right now?"

I'm not sure what I'll learn by keeping and studying this time log (that's why I'm doing it, right?) but I certainly appreciate Laura's points about doing what you think is important and not what you think is expected of you.

So if you come to visit, please notice the hand knits...not the too-tall grass and weeds!!

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