What I Learned Tracking Time for a Week

What I Learned Tracking Time for a Week

As life becomes fuller with the addition of little ones, it gets harder and harder to make time to reflect. But New Year’s Day has always been a day of reflection for me, and that hasn’t changed now that I’m a mom. Check out this time management activity I tried out to get a handle on how I'm investing my time. You can give it a try too, and gain clarity and motivation for your 2017!

I’m a big believer in the concept of investing your time wisely. We can think of our time as a scarce commodity – it has great value and there is only so much of it.

I'm also a big believer in my philosophy to practice what I teach. I’ve never felt right about asking others to do something that I wouldn’t try myself. So it was with this spirit that I decided to personally practice one of the time management strategies I encourage the moms I work with to use. This is an activity that helps busy moms get a handle on how they invest their time. You can give it a try too, either on your own or contact me if you'd like some guidance.

In December I tracked my time for a week. I recorded my activities every 30 minutes for 168 hours. The first day felt so tedious. But by the end of the week I was excited to see what my time use data would reveal. It was so worth the effort.

Here's what my 168 hours looked like:

There is no perfect week to track your time. Things are always going to come up that you weren't anticipating so you need to just dive in. Notice that this week I reported "Sick Time" because our household was hit with the flu. At least half of those sick hours would have been work hours and the rest would have been for quality family time. In the end, that time went to recovering from the flu. If an unforeseen event comes up while you're tracking your week, don't sweat it. You can still learn a lot from this exercise even if you're having an unusual week.

There is no perfect week to track your time. Things are always going to come up that you weren't anticipating so you need to just dive in. Notice that this week I reported "Sick Time" because our household was hit with the flu. At least half of those sick hours would have been work hours and the rest would have been for quality family time. In the end, that time went to recovering from the flu. If an unforeseen event comes up while you're tracking your week, don't sweat it. You can still learn a lot from this exercise even if you're having an unusual week.

Here’s what I learned:

  • I’m getting adequate sleep (Yippee!!). This is awesome to see as a mom of a 17 month old who has taken his time to become a good sleeper.

  • Not counting sleep, the bulk of my time is sucked into the great black hole of childcare and housework taking up a whopping 52.5 out of my 168 hours. While I know this isn’t going to change substantially, and I am totally fine with that, I discovered two things I can do differently. First, my husband and I can get better at dividing and conquering. I noticed throughout the week that we often tackle childcare and household tasks together. We could each gain more time if we decided to fly solo on more of these tasks. Second, I can turn some of this childcare time into quality family time. Around here, we do a lot of unstructured play within a daily routine while I get stuff done. I can increase my quality family time, something I value dearly, by turning some of that time into planned activities with my son.

  • I'm spending more on personal time and routines (e.g. meals, showers, etc.) than I thought I did. Which leaves me wondering if I’m really maximizing the personal time I have available to me. Am I using this as quality personal time or is it wasted time? Am I willing to give up a little bit to gain more time in another area of my life?

  • I'm investing a surprisingly low number of hours into quality family time relative to other areas of my life. I spend so much time with my family as it is, but that time is largely spent on upkeep of our lives, not on having quality experiences together that nourish our relationships. Granted, on this particular week the stomach flu hit our household and we ended up cancelling a family social outing. Yet I can see that this is something I want to change.

  • The time I'm putting into my work and growing Shift reflects how I feel about it: So many ideas and so little time. This is an area I both need and want to invest more time into. I can also bring greater focus to how I use the time I have available for this area of my life.

Now that I have a realistic understanding of how I actually invest my time, I can decide what changes to make. I can make conscious decisions to spend my time differently. Best of all, this exercise has given me the motivation I need to change the tiles of time around and create the pattern I want to see.

Clarity and Motivation. I can’t think of a better way to begin 2017!

How will you invest your time in 2017? I’d love to hear what’s already working for you as well as what you want to do differently. Share your reflections in the comments or send me a message!

Wishing you a full 2017 brimming with success, however you define it. 

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