One of the weirder parts about having quit my job is that I suddenly have WAY less time than I used to. Things that I used to accomplish in a day or two are now taking weeks, and for the last six months I’ve been battling the horrible feeling that I’m falling further and further behind. This is stressful, to say the least, and is one of the reasons I haven’t been posting much recently.
I finally decided to audit my time and find out where it was going. So I started logging my time – recording everything I did from the time I got up until dinnertime. (I consider my “working day” to end at dinnertime, whenever that is.)
I’m keeping my time log in Google Sheets, and the entries look something like this:
I have a sheet for the current day’s results, with a convenient pie chart (which was incredibly easy to create – thank you Google!) that shows where my time went that day. Here’s my time chart for Thursday:
As you can see, Thursday was dismal for productivity. I logged 12.5 hours, of which only 2.5 hours actually got used on projects (bottom right). Most of the day was spent either on social media, having lunch with a friend, or doing things like shopping, cooking and eating breakfast, or physical therapy.
But the truly horrifying thing about Thursday is, of course, the lower right corner. I spent only 3.3% of my time catering to cats! My One Job, the sole reason for my worthless human existence, and I spent less than 5% of my time on it. Terrible. No wonder the cats harass me so much. I don’t know why they put up with me. (Though, when liberally supplied with cat treats, they will occasionally concede that I’m not the Worst Human Ever. 😉 )
I’m also keeping an aggregate log that shows the time log over a period of multiple days. This one has fewer categories (making it easier to read). This is the data for Thursday and Friday:
As you can see, I am scarcely doing any better at my One Job (better keep those cat treats coming!), but things are looking up a bit, project-wise. I’m getting 30% of my time in on projects, which is not good but not totally dismal, and I’ve drastically dropped the amount of time spent on entertainment. (That’s largely because I closed the Facebook tab on my browser. Sorry, Zuckerberg!)
30% of my time, when I’m logging about 12 hours a day, is only about 3.5 hours. This is pretty awful. My goal is to up that to 6 hours a day. I’m trying to understand the ebb and flow of my mental/physical energy throughout the day, so I can plan my day more effectively.
The other problem I’m grappling with is simply that I have too many projects. Once upon a time, when I was working full-time, I would take on one project at a time – two, at most. Now I have five projects going on simultaneously:
- Being the Board President of the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles. I don’t regret taking this on, because the Museum is really important to me and I think I’m doing a pretty good job as Board President, but it is a TON of work, and on more than one occasion I’ve had to drop everything I was doing and focus on Museum stuff full time for weeks or months. Definitely not for the faint of heart.
- Warp & Weave. I’m still developing my class, but it’s been really hard with everything else going on.
- My stole commission.
- Consulting work for Firehorse, a nonprofit development consulting agency. (Pays some of the bills.)
You can see that, if I’m only getting 3.5 hours of project work in per day, progress on five fronts is pretty much impossible. Even if I boost it to 6 hours a day, that still means pretty slow progress.
So I am thinking about how best to balance it all. I don’t want to drop any of those projects, but I think that Tomatomania will settle down in a few weeks, and if I can focus on Everett’s stole and get that out of the way, I’ll be down to three projects, and I think that’s manageable.
Meanwhile, the weather is warm, the sun is shining, and I’ve been unable to resist the urge to be the Ugly Californian (kinda like the Ugly American 🙂 ) when my friends in Massachusetts and Wisconsin post photos of their iced-in homes. Lest you feel left out, here are a few pix from the garden:
The tomatoes are still quite young (just got their first set of true leaves), but it’s warm enough that I’m transplanting them anyway. It seems silly to keep them under fluorescent lights when all that wonderful sun is shining down!
The cats are enjoying the warm weather, too. We don’t have built-in air conditioning, so when it’s warm out, we frequently secure the screen doors and then open up the front and back doors to encourage air flow. The cats love it because they can watch the birds and squirrels, and enjoy the scents of the outdoors. “Hey Mom, can you turn on the TV?”