Monday, August 18, 2014

A Brief Statement on Time Management, Part 2: My experiment and the Results

I had a funny feeling it would be a mistake. And like most mistakes, I just kept at it. I took the first 26 days in July 2014 and wrote down everything that I did and how long it took to do it. In short, I mapped my time.

I suppose all I really wanted to do is figure out where all my time really goes. And it goes. It goes and it goes and it goes. It had occurred to me that I had not been writing, not really been reading, always feeling behind, tired and angry. I felt like too much of my time was being wasted, if not accidentally by me, but by circumstances. Before I disclose my findings, I want to explain a few motivations.

First, I felt like I had not been writing. The journal, which for me helps out in every facet of my life. The journal is where I write the fleeting thoughts, the settling of scores and future desires. When you have kept a journal for as many years as I have, you start to see patterns. For instance, when times are really, really good, I don't write very often. It's strange. When times are rough, I write constantly. If it's a journal I like to write in, I write more frequently than in a journal I don't like. Seems reasonable, right?

From August 2013 (about the time we rolled back into Denver) until the end of June 2014, I had written in my journals about 50 times. In theory a journal is a daily exercise I wrote in journal during this time approximately once every 7 days. Ironically, as I look back over this time period it will never be classified as “the good times.” Quite the opposite, it was terrible year on more than one front.

Second, I know if I wasn't writing in my journal, I wasn't writing anything else. For the first time in years, I had trouble keeping up with my blog. I was not writing any fiction and since I had decided to write poetry (what was the impetus there?) and wasn't, it's no wonder there were problems.

The real hope with keeping track of time was much the same as why a person may want to keep a budget to see where the money goes. As I've said, I kept a record for 26 days.

26 days breaks down into 624 hours. Of that 624 hours it worked out to this:
219 hours I spent with my family, watching my son or visiting with Janice. I feel fortunate with this.
190 hours I spent asleep. This works out to 7 hours, 20 minutes a night average.
115 hours I spent at work.
52 hours I spent with friends doing fun stuff.
22 hours I spent driving to and from work.
13 hours I spent doing household chores.
13 hours I spent writing.

In a 26 day period, I spent only 13 hours writing, and I wrote everyday. I wrote for 30 minutes a day. It's abysmal. There are two things about it that really baffle me. First, I made an effort to write everyday, I fit it into my day and I think I was effective. I am very pleased with everything that I wrote. It was time well spent. Second, I only spent 13 hours in that period writing. As long as I can remember, I have wanted nothing more than time to write. I've always been possessive with my time and I feel like I've always had writing as a priority. Incidentally, I hate driving. I spent nearly double the amount of time driving to and from work as I did writing.

The last part of my days during this time is that I left each day reading in bed. I got to read four books, and that's not bad. The good news is that I discovered that I average almost 7.5 hours of sleep a night which for a father of a two year old is pretty impressive.

Time management is such touchy subject for most people. I suppose I'm no different. In my experiment, I would have wanted to see more writing hours. Writing hours ebb and flow, I know this. I do have a family and especially a two year old who gets the vast majority of my time. I'm grateful to give it to him. Before he came along, I spent the greater part of every day writing. I didn't think about time management. I got up, I wrote, I went to work, I went to the bar, I stayed out late and woke up late. Whole days, whole weeks spent writing. And I never understood those who claimed to have no time, and I never understood parents.

If this has made any sense at all, perhaps you'll do a little time audit. Good luck.

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