I’m terrible at side projects because I can never seem to find time to work on them. So I decided to track my time for a week and see where it all went. Here is the tally.The top two categories are not too surprising:
- I’m a sleeper, so can’t go very long without 8 hours a day.
- Work clocked in at exactly 40 hours, which is actually a little bit less than I felt. I suspect it’s the commute that tricks my brain into feeling those as work hours as well. But this time is not all wasted as I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts.
The other categories have a few surprises:
- Entertainment took a bigger fraction than I expected. This is basically the evening TV watching with my husband. Apparently we watched just a bit over an hour each day, which is actually quite a bit. We watch a variety of YouTube channels and Netfix, but I’m hard pressed to say they are necessarily all high value. So this may be an area that I can reduce a bit.
- My existing volunteer commitments are actually a bit more time-consuming than I internalized. The two commitments added up to 9.25 hours, which is an extra work day.
- Meal preparation and cleanup took a lot less time than I expected. I felt that I’m constantly cleaning the kitchen, but it seems that in this particular week, it only took about 2 hours. A caveat here is that I started this week after a thorough cleaning of the house (which took me 4+ hours). So in steady state, the cleaning category may be more time consuming than what’s reflected here.
- Apparently we walk a lot. Since we live downtown, my husband and I ran most of our errands walking. When weather is nice in Toronto (which it is now), some weekends we walk over 2 hours. It’s still surprising that we walked 4.5 hours in a week. These walks tend to be our conversation time as well. So although it is not necessarily an efficient form of exercise, I suspect I won’t be able to compress this too much.
Prior to tracking, I had thought that house cleaning and meal preparation is my biggest hurdle to finding time for side projects. But it seems that family time (meal, entertainment, walking and parents visit) and volunteering are actually the bigger categories. This is not bad news, because for the most part, these activities are aligned with my life priorities – except the TV part; we can probably do a little less of that without sacrificing quality couple time.
What’s unusual about this week is that we had no scheduled meet-ups with friends and I had done the big house cleaning the weekend before. I also lost track of time on Sunday, as it was the usual flurry of community time, cleaning, and personal rest. These need to be accounted for better going forward to get a more accurate picture.
P.S. For anyone interested, I created a simple Google Form to track the time. It has just two questions: a multiple choice for activity and time spent. I kept the form open in my phone browser, so whenever I finished an activity, I’d log it right away. The responses were saved into a Google Sheet and I used a pivot table to create the summary. I found it was essential to log the time right away because the few times I didn’t have my phone handy (e.g. on the subway or on Sunday), I didn’t end up logging details. If I spend more time on the subway, I may try creating a PWA tracker app so it can cache results offline and send. Another excuse to try a side project. 😀