I mentioned before that I am doing a time tracking exercise. I want to build up several weeks- maybe even months- of data this time, to look for patterns. I am also coming into a very busy time at work, and I want to see what happens to my schedule before, during, and after that time. I am hoping the exercise will give me some ideas to improve how I handle crunch times.
I am just starting my third full week of time tracking. I took a little time last night to look over the data so far. A couple of things stood out:
1. I am not getting enough sleep.
I average about 7 hours of sleep per day (I record my time from midnight to midnight, so one day's sleep encompasses parts of two nights). That doesn't sound so bad- a little skimpy (pre kids my natural sleep needs were about 8.5 hours per night), but not so bad. However, the full data tell a different story. I sleep much less during the week. My minimum sleep time is about 6 hours. I then "make up" some of that sleep on the weekend, with a maximum sleep time of 8.5 hours one week and 9 hours the other. I do not think this is the healthiest way to do things.
The problem, of course, is that my kids have relatively low sleep needs. They go to bed between 8:30 and 9 and wake up between 6 and 7. Last night, I was in Petunia's room until 9:30. I might have been able to sneak out at 9:15, but I'd dozed off at about 9, when she was still awake, and only woke up when her bedtime music shut off. Regardless, it is normal for her bedtime to last until between 9 and 9:30. If I want to get 8 hours of sleep, I need to go to bed right then- it takes me a little bit of time reading to unwind, and then it takes me a little bit of time to actually fall asleep. I need some time in the evenings to do chores, to catch up on work, and to relax, so this is a bit of a dilemma.
I haven't found a total solution yet, but I am trying to do more of the chores while the kids are awake. The downside to this is that the time between dinner and bed is when we get to play with the kids during the week, so I'll need to balance some competing demands on that time. Last night, I tried to do the work I needed to get done during bathtime. That sort of worked- they finished bath before I finished my work. I think this will be an area I experiment with over the time tracking exercise, to see if I can find ways to get me more sleep without too much compromise on the other things I think are important.
And of course, this will get a little better when we transition Petunia to falling asleep on her own, which is something we'll probably start late this year or early next year, depending on when we think she's done with the difficult phase that started at about 2.5 years old. (My knowledge of developmental phases comes primarily from Bedtiming. We've had a lot of luck using the information in that book to guide us on when to make changes to sleep routines and other things.)
2. I really am pretty efficient at work
This wasn't a huge surprise- I know I pack a lot of work into my time in the office. But it was still interesting to see the data.
For this initial review, I looked at three parameters: the number of hours I was actually in the office, the number of hours I worked at home, and the number of hours I was actually working. For the number of hours in the office, I didn't subtract out my usual short lunch break (15-30 minutes, at my desk or out walking), but I did subtract out longer lunch breaks during which I met someone for lunch or ran an errand.
The first week, I was in the office for 39.25 hours. I worked at home for one hour, and I logged 39 hours of actual work. This means that I was working for 38 of my 39.25 hours in the office, which I think is pretty good. That week included one long lunch break, during which I met a new networking contact. I considered that a career-improving lunch, but not really work.
The second week, I was in the office for 38.75 hours. I worked at home for four hours, and I logged 41.25 hours of actual work. This means I was working for 37.25 of the 38.75 hours in the office, which is again pretty good. That week included a doctor's appointment in the middle of the day (I was out of office for 1.75 hours) and one day when I left work 1.25 hours early to go to Zoo at Night with my family.
I was pretty happy to see these numbers. The total number of hours in the second week sort of surprised me, because I'd felt like I'd shortchanged work that week. My sister in law was in town for a visit, and the focus of the week was more on fun than work. I have a lot to do to get ready for the upcoming crunch time, though, so I needed to try not to fall behind. I was somewhat successful in that- I wrote an updated to do list yesterday, and it is packed but still doable in the next month. I did not feel like I was putting in enough time, though, which is interesting. I need to think some more about what that means.
I do know that seeing that 41.25 number on my summary sheet made me feel a lot better about the amount of work I'd managed to do last week. On one level, this is silly- what should matter is what I got done, not how much time I spent doing it. On another level, though, this shows the benefits of time tracking. Even someone who really, truly believes in efficiency over face time (like me!) can fall into the trap of thinking that the reason she feels behind at work is that she's not working enough hours. Seeing the numbers that prove I am actually putting in a solid number of hours alleviated my concerns, and made me turn my focus from finding more hours to give to work to finding ways to get more done in the hours I have, including an increased focus on finding a second project manager for our department- something my boss and I have both wanted to do for awhile. Yesterday, I set aside 30 minutes at work and really hit my network looking for leads. The data had shown me that this was probably the best use of my time.
Have you ever done a time tracking exercise? What percentage of the time in the office do you spend actually working? Given what I've observed around the office over the years, I think my percentage is on the high side.