So I was reading the how-to book for writing a memoir last night – managed to knock out about 3 pages before I got drowsy and drifted off – and found myself in the “make time to write” chapter. It even had a chart for me to use for figuring out where my daily time goes so that I might be able to “carve out” some time to write.
Aside: why do people talk about “carving out” time? It always makes me think of big machetes and days with large holes cut in them at random places. Is time something to be manipulated like the bar of Ivory soap I tried carving a teddy bear out of in 8th grade shop class? Is there a sadly misshapen hour of time just waiting to be uncovered like the head of that soap bear? What do I do with the pieces of time I slice off in order to reach that lopsided hour? Do I just discard them, or do I squeeze the usefulness out of them like those shards of soap I mashed together to make a teeny tiny little Ivory lump? Carving out time…just saying.
Anyway, I decided this morning to begin examining my day and where my time goes in order to figure out when I could maximize that lumpy hour or so of time that’s just waiting for me to discover it.
8:00 a.m. – I’m starting here instead of the recommended 5:00 a.m. One of two things happens every morning – either I get up and go for a run, or I sleep in/lounge in bed until 8:00. The reason I lounge in bed until 8:00 is because that’s when I’ve told my kids they can come out of their rooms. They get up at some horrible time that I don’t want to see on a clock face, so I’ve told them they’re banished to their rooms until 8 if I’m not up. I also lounge in bed as a reward for those days when I *do* manage to get my kiester out the door for a morning run. On those days when I run, I’m not even remotely ready for a shower until 8:00 anyway, so it works out nicely.
I’ll end the day (on paper) at 10:00 p.m., even though I’ve found myself up later in recent days. More on that later.
So I have 14 hours. That’s 840 minutes.
- First order of business is usually the shower. I spend about 3 minutes finding the right TV show to have on while I’m in the shower, then another 2 minutes getting the shower radio tuned like I want it. It’s analog – no digital tuning. Then my shower is 13 minutes. I know this because that’s how long my TV show was paused. Then 12 minutes getting dressed and putting the correct amount of styling product in my hair. Ready for the day.
- 5 minutes (morning + evening) brushing and flossing.
- I will admit up front that I spend about 20 minutes out of every two hours hiding from the kids in my bathroom playing the latest game on my smartphone. Not Angry Birds. I can at least find solace in that. That’s 160 minutes.
- Since I’m on the subject of technology, I’ll cop to spending an hour on FB and e-mail every day.
- And I’ll call that extra hour I spend online “building my platform.” Because that sounds more professional than “surfing the net.”
- Since there are 6 people in the family, I’m constantly doing laundry. I probably spend half an hour each day shifting, folding, and putting away laundry.
- Between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., I deal with kids’ arguments. I’m estimating that’s about 10 minutes out of every hour. So that’s another 120 minutes.
- The kids have chores every day they have to do. J normally refuses to do hers, so I find myself literally holding her hand as I make her do her work. Between dealing with her arguments before the chores, then the chores themselves, that’s 15 minutes.
- We have to eat. Breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner – let’s say I spend two hours every day making, serving, and eating. Plus the yelling. Can’t have a meal over here without someone getting in trouble.
- Before I make dinner, I tidy up the kitchen. 10 minutes.
- Every day, we either go to the pool or run errands. This takes up a good 2 1/2 hours.
- Random, disgusting mess that I have to clean up. This takes 30 minutes.
- Speaking of disgusting messes, I’m going to estimate that I spend 30 minutes dealing with diapering.
- Coffee. Between the making, cleaning my machine (it has a built-in grinder which is cool in theory but a pain in real life), or reheating previously brewed coffee, 10 minutes.
- Yardwork. This isn’t a planned thing, but it usually happens when I go out to get the mail. We have some weeds known as The Scourge (real name, no joke) and I can’t resist them. It’s the whole Lay’s potato chip thing – can’t pick just one. That turns into 20 minutes of weeding, watering, and other puttering. Plus, the kids aren’t out there, so it’s quiet. I tend to linger here because of that fact.
- Unplanned housework. I think all my housework falls into this category. 30 minutes.
- When the kids finally get in bed and settled down, I have a little while to watch some TV and unwind. I DVR some shows, and I usually watch a couple of hour-long episodes. Since everyone knows that hour-long shows are really 45 minutes long, this translates into 90 minutes of TV. Then the news is on, and I need to watch it because events in a city 90 miles away are vital to my life. Actually, it’s just the weather I care about, but by this time I’ve resorted to playing on my phone again, so I have to rewind the DVR and watch the weather again because I missed it again. By the time I’m done with the news, another 45 minutes is gone.
So add all these numbers up and I get 1045 minutes of activity in my 840 minute day.
But I wrote today. Take that, deformed hour!