Sunday, August 26, 2007

How I spend my time: the conclusion, with pretty pictures

(The red represents work, the yellow is fun activities, and the blue is routine tasks.)

In total, I spent 35 hours and 40 minutes on work (teaching and dissertation) last week, just over 32 hours on fun, and 28 hours 40 minutes on routine tasks like eating, cooking, chores, etc.

Last week was atypical in a few minor respects: two people I know had parties (a house warming and a birthday) and someone came over for dinner. Usually we do nowhere near that much socialising. Also, I had no marking to do, and spent no time on planning assignments, exams, etc. Finally, I only went to the gym twice, since Geekman was away for two days and I don't tend to go without him. Usually we go at least three times in a seven day period. Otherwise the week was pretty average.

On my busiest day I spent 8 hours 15 minutes on work, 3.5 hours on fun, and 3.5 hours on routine.

On one day I did no work at all.

So mostly my week is pretty bloody good. A whole day off, less than 8 hours work most days. Less than a 40-hour week all up.


I hadn't realised how much time I spent in meetings (5 hours 30 minutes a week!) or on routine tasks (an average of 4 hours a day!).

If you had asked me, I would have guessed I spent more time on the internet than I do (9 hours a week). I was pretty relieved to discover that. As I was to see how little time I spend watching "TV" (actually DVDs; we don't have a TV): 4 hours a week.

And there are still a few things I would like to change

I would like to have more evenings without any work at all. This shouldn't be hard, since an evening (e.g. from 6:30 pm to 10:30 pm) is only four hours, and if an hour of that is taken up by cooking and eating, that's only three hours of my "fun" budget. I spent at least three hours on fun activities every day except Tuesday. So the time is available: I just have to stick it into my evening rather than spread it through the day. I find psychologically that having a whole free evening feels much more relaxing than taking lots of shorter breaks during the day.

I would like to spend less time on "routine" tasks. Most mornings it took an hour from getting up to getting out the door, and none of that was spent doing anything fun. On a couple of days I managed to cut that time down to half an hour or 45 minutes, and I'd like to do that on a regular basis. The 15 or 30 minutes saved could be spent doing something I actually enjoy. I like cooking, eating, and (mostly) exercising, so I don't want to cut that time down on a regular basis, but I need to be aware that if I have a really busy day in other respects, I could save a lot of time by managing routine tasks better or just putting them off until I'm less busy.

I would like to spend more time reading than I did last week (5 hours 30 minutes). I had run out of library books for the first three days I recorded, though, so maybe I usually read more than that. I would like to spend more time reading non-fiction, too.

Actual changes I am going to make

  1. I am going to try and cut my morning routine down to 40 minutes from now on.
  2. I am going to try to get all my Wednesday prep done by Tuesday afternoon, and my Monday prep done on Friday. That would balance my days much better so that there isn't such a big difference between my busiest days (8 hours 15 minutes on work) and my slowest (less than 3 hours on work.)
  3. I am going to skip one meeting a week, when possible. There are some that I only attend out of a sense of duty and no one would really notice my absence.
  4. I am going to make a real effort to take no long breaks for fun things during my time in the office (15 minutes for coffee is fine; 1 hour for web surfing is not). That way I should be able to stop bringing work home in the evenings.


The History Enthusiast said...

Ooo, pretty! I think I will try this experiment this next week....

Anonymous said...

wow, you seem to be very balanced red-blue-yellow wise.

StyleyGeek said...

Yeah, I was surprised by how balanced that was. If I had had to guess, I would have estimated that routine tasks only take half as much time as work, and that I spend a balanced amount of time on fun/work, or maybe more time on fun.