Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Time Study

This is a time study I did a year ago and posted on Facebook. I'm republishing it here first because I want to reference it in another post and secondly because it's hard to believe it has been a year. As for my resolution from this study, I never got into the habit of walking on Saturday mornings. I'm just too dang tired and I sleep away every last morning I can. I don't love that I don't ever get exercise, but I've got to get my sleep out.

(First published February 25, 2014)

If graphs drive you crazy, avert your eyes!

Inspired by Erin's quest for the "new normal" schedule and reading over her time study posts from a few years back, I decided I needed to do a time study of my own. Dave even consented to do one too only because he likes me.  Time and I have always had a contentious relationship so these graphs are attempt to get a handle on what is really happening.

Last week was a normal week with some irregular happenings so maybe like most weeks. Over the weekend, we had zero commitments and we could do whatever we wanted. This is unusual. I went out to eat with coworkers twice. This is very unusual. I cut out of work early one day to go to the big semi-annual consignment sale in town. Again, unusual. But here is my week of February 15-21:

The first graph is the whole week with fairly narrow categories. Anything that could be separated, I put in its own category. I had to decide how to handle multi-tasking which I do a fair bit. I decided that I would count all the time toward the main thing I was doing and ignore the add-on task. So for example, if I were feeding Marian and decided to hop on the Internet to pass the time, I would count it toward Marian time. If I were already on the Internet and had to feed Marian at some point, I counted it as Internet time. This lack of an ability to differentiate cuts down on the accounted time for more intellectual activities. I am usually reading during pump sessions and have a book on CD playing during commute.

I am spending enough time in bed. It would be great if my sleep were higher quality, but it is what it is for now. What jumped out at me immediately is that work doesn't take nearly as much time as I thought. I feel like work is this mammoth that eats my time, but the graph clearly does not bear out that impression. Hmm. I also only spend 2% of my time pumping. Feels like more probably because I dread and procrastinate every session. Nursing a pump is not nearly as satisfying as nursing a baby. Of course I spend about as much time nursing a pump as I do tending the older ones so that's a bummer. I also only spent 10 hours commuting last week. This is a massive improvement over what was happening in December. Yay!

I broke time spent caring for Marian away from time spent dealing with the others since she gets so much more of my attention due to the whole feeding her thing. I spent five hours last week where Marian was the focus of my attention. Also separated was time I spent on the Internet. I suspected that I hopped on too often at home, but at under four hours for the week, it really is not that terrible. NB: I didn't count Internet time at work as being Internet time. I am usually running several jobs at once while surfing and I'd have to be at work whether I was on the Internet or not.

But the graph didn't exactly satisfy. Too many categories. I decided to group several categories together to give a better impression of what is happening. Initially I had one category for eating, but eating at work and eating at home feel completely different. I decided to split the eating category into two. Then I grouped anything that had to do with work into one giant work category that contained work, commuting, eating at work, and pumping. I combined the childcare categories and put eating at home in with regular family time. Anything leisure related was put together as well.

Now that looks more like it. Sleep, work, and then everything else. I had more family time than I expected, although this is probably a function of grouping home meals in this section. I spend as much time caring for myself as I do the children. I don't know if this is good or bad. Leisure activities also make up the same amount of time as childcare. What really surprised me is how balanced my time is outside of sleep and work. Housekeeping also only takes 6% of my time. It feels like I almost never sit down because I'm wandering the house picking things up. Then the thought occurred to me that this graph looks at a whole week. What if I just looked at the work week?

And there it is. During the week, my time spent doing 'work things' beats everything else by a mile. The most telling when looking solely at the work week is that I almost never do anything for more than 15 minutes at a time. This leads to feeling completely ADD about everything I do and pulled in all directions. I am not sure how to spend more than 15 minutes doing anything because there is a minimum that must be done and a limited amount of time to do it. When I hit a stretch of time where I don't have any responsibilities or a time crunch, aka Friday night and Saturday morning, I completely hit the decompress button which usually involves wandering around the house trying to figure out what to do first. This is not efficient or restful.

I spend only 2% of my time doing housekeeping during the work week, but overall, as I said above, I spend 6% of all my time doing housework, which can only mean that an outsized portion of the weekend is used cleaning up, 16% of the weekend if I did the math right. I don't think I do anything for 16% of the time except work. I don't feel like I'm getting enough bang for my time buck in the housekeeping dept and the reason for this is that I think I am stuck in ADD mode over the weekends.

I am a person who needs a lot of time in my own head to figure out what I think and what I should do. The fact is I don't get enough of this kind of time during the week and there is no where to get it. There ain't no time. I need to try to create some of this time on the weekends to clear my head so I don't spend the weekend aimlessly wandering the house. To try to break this ADD cycle, I have decided to let Friday evening slide and will veg and wander as much as I like. On Saturday mornings, I will use the earlier hour I have gained from my 'get to work earlier' experiments to go out walking in the neighborhood by myself (or with M), weather permitting. I don't plan on spending a lot of time walking or even worrying about distance. This is just a way to put a hard stop on the work week and add a little exercise to my life which you might notice is almost entirely absent. Hopefully this little addition will allow me to settle my brain and use my weekend time more efficiently.

So there's the grand final analysis of my time study: Go walking Saturday morning.

Dave also has his own graph which I won't publish because it's his, but I wanted to publicly say thank you for playing along.  :)

1 comment:

Joy said...

Doing a time study every year or more often if your tasks keep changing, is a good idea.