You may think this is a time management blog, like I did before. I am aware that I have time management habits, and I thought I had lots of experience too, as I already wrote several blogs about my time management skills.
However, this blog is to reveal another side of my time usage after I started to record my time. I began to record my time usage just out of curiosity on Oct 8th (80ish days ago) after I was inspired by a blogger on how he managed his time using a time tracker. Thus, I stared at my time tracker and wanted to have a big picture of my time usage as well.
The time tracker is simply a spreadsheet with 15 mins as a unit. I must enter information every day, starting from my routine when I wake up and then getting going with cooking breakfast and sending my son to the school bus at 7:30; then, my work day starts at 9 am. I enter all the activities till the time I go to bed every night and the sleep hours. Each day, of course, I record 24 hours. Then after lots of 24 hours, on the 80th day, I checked to see how I used the 1,920 (80×24) hours.
The other trigger for why I started time tracking was that I wanted to achieve several goals. In fact, I wanted to take four courses three months ago, but I haven’t completed one! So I felt frustrated and wanted to check how my learning progress started to go down.
I know that my life is like a busy bee every day.
- I have a full-time job and am a mom looking after my son when my husband spends most of his time in China, which is 10,000 km away;
- I also have a healthy social life. I have several good mom friends, and their sons are the same age as John, and we meet now and then to have play days for our sons as well as lovely social gatherings for us moms;
- I also have several hobbies;
- I like to have 8 hours minimum sleep daily as my sleep habit.
For the benefit of my readers to have a sneak peek at my hobbies, I am introducing my hobbies, and they are on my daily/weekly/monthly tracker as well.
My hobbies/routines include: I write a blog every month; Having piano lessons every two weeks, and I practice piano 3 days a week; I have a bible study group every week; I also have exercise routines, such as going swimming three times a week (this is the time I mostly squee between dropping off my son at the school bus at 7:30 and the work day which starts at 9 am); I also like to read; my minimum reading plan is one book per month. This year I overachieved it, and I am reading the 27th book now, and I usually read 20 mins before bed; I watch a movie every month; Of course, I call my parents in China at least two or three times a week; For life, I need to be creative with the dinner menu so my son can have a big dinner. The menu varies every evening; My duties include weekly grocery shopping; dishwashing, clothes washing, ironing, etc.
As you see, I am used to my schedule. I am great at multitasking and squeezing time (although I am not good at managing money, I am better at managing time, LOL). Just like I utilize my 1.5 hour gap in the morning to go swimming. The audiobooks I listen to are usually when I do cleaning and housework.
So what happened to me when I could not complete one course over the 3 months? I was wondering.
Until one night, “timebank” – this phrase came to my mind suddenly. Many of us may relate banks to money; yes, I wish I owned a “bank,” but I cannot in reality. However, I do realize that I own a bank of “time,” and this time bank is my asset; actually, it’s everyone’s asset. It’s the world’s most fair bank for everyone. Although, most of us do not realize the bank’s value, including me. Every day, we have 24 hours or 1,440 minutes to spend. Then with those 24 hours, depending on what we do, we turn some into assets that accumulate every day or some into nothing.
So I need to dig deeper and check my time balance sheet from my “time bank”. After nearly three months of tracking, I now have this lovely pie chart in front of me. Remember, my time bank tracker includes every day, including the weekends and holidays.
So, of course, no surprise the biggest slice of the pie is “work,” which is 25.7% of my time. It’s good that I am a hardworking person, and also, nowadays, there seem to be endless emails I need to check every day after work. And my proud number 2 portion is “sleeping,” which is 23%, which means this goal is well achieved, as my goal is 8 hours every day, the perfect percentage is 24%, and I am ok with 1% to improve next time.
After looking into my time bank items, two items stand out; one is “Others”. I know that includes a few random things, such as time on social media. We have lots of social media accounts nowadays. I use a few, such as Wechat, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Little Red Book, etc . After 80 days, I spent 126 hours on them, which does not seem like a lot; however, if I had switched half of them to study, I should have already achieved some of my study goals. Yes?
Here is my time bank withdrawal statement breakdown: Work 25.7%; Sleep 23%; Housework + Grocery shopping 9.2%; Others 8.8%; Cooking & eating 7.3%; Morning and evening routine 6.6%; Reading, blogging 3%; Transportation 3.7%; Family time: 2.4; Exercise (including swimming) 2.1%; Piano 1.6%; Friends & Social 2.3%; Relaxation （hair salon, beauty salon, pedicure, massage, etc) 1.3%; Shopping 1.1%; Study 0.88%; Bible /church: 0.7% ( the bible study group was paused for a couple of weeks since November); Movie 0.18%
After checking my statement, I have quite a good idea of how to adjust my time spent in the future.
- Others- I use up my 24 hours from the time bank every day. It’s obvious that there’s a big chunk to reallocate some of them.
- Family time- During COVID, I haven’t seen my parents for almost 3 years, and I am also looking forward to increasing my family time with my parents in the summer of 2023.
- Morning and evening routine – I also spend a lot of time on the morning and evening routine; I guess lots of women spend more time in a bubble world that belongs to us; there’s a chance to improve a bit, but I won’t squeeze it too thin, as that’s the time I need to slow down.
- Study – And not surprisingly, study is one of the lowest of my time spent. I only spent 13.5 hours on study. The hours I spent on study reveal why I haven’t achieved the goal.
From my debrief process above, time management is such a fantastic topic. I am not a time management master. However, I am aware of where I am now. To me, time management can be asset management, as “time” is truly an invisible “asset.” This asset is free, and everyone has it; that’s why this asset seems unlike an asset, and it is ignored by many of us.
- If we spend time on work and gaining work-related skills, we should be A+ employees in our roles, which usually leads to career progression;
- If we spend time reading, our knowledge bank will increase day after day, and we will have more wisdom;
- If we spend some time relaxing, our mind bank grows with happiness and satisfaction;
- If we spend time exercising, our health bank will increase. I hear some people died too young or too soon because they may have withdrawn lots of their assets from the health bank and they did not notice the warning debt line;
- If we spend time with our family, our family can enjoy the love, and we have a bonding family;
- If we spend time on healthy hobbies, it can improve us day after day. Our hobby bank, in return, will deposit to our mental and physical health bank ;
Hopefully, after reading this, we can treat our time more purposefully and know where the time ideally should go in 2023 and beyond when we need to review and adjust the spending from time to time to meet our needs. Goodbye, 2022!
Links for my hobbies: