Monday, September 06, 2010

Time for a Reorg

I've been in a bit of a funk lately. Some of this is hormonal- I realized when Pumpkin was a baby that I tend to have a hard time when the amount of nursing changes, and this pattern has held true with Petunia, as well. So my hardest time in early babyhood is when the baby is 6 weeks old- there is a massive growth spurt and a correspondingly massive surge in milk production, and I am a complete wreck (I'm sure the lack of sleep doesn't help- but Petunia actually slept fairly well at that point, so I can't blame it all on sleep deprivation). We're now at the start of the gradual weaning process. I've dropped one of my pumping sessions, and Petunia is nursing a little less on the weekends, and just like I remember from the similar time with Pumpkin, I'm a bit, umm... moody.

But I don't think hormones can explain all of my funk. The new job responsibilities aren't turning out quite as advertised (although things are going about as I expected they would, so I do wonder why I'm feeling put out by the fact that they aren't going as my boss said they would). I'm spending far more time on administrivia than I'd like, and I have yet to find a way to get that under control.

I'm having a hard time keeping up with things at home, too. My to do list is woefully out of date, which is never a good sign. I can handle a to do list that is so long that it is laughable, but it makes me positively twitchy to have things that need to get done that aren't written down. Yes, I know this is weird, and I know that the solution (i.e., to write them down) is well within my capabilities. But yet, here I sit, with a mental list that has more items than my physical one.

And then then there are the things I need to fit back in to my life in order to be happy- some more exercise, time to actually make progress on my to do list, time to tackle some of the non-work projects that pass for hobbies.

In short, things are just not working. In my industry, when the organization isn't getting things done or is showing signs of dysfunction, senior management often decides to reorganize. A reorg is sometimes painful, but if done well, it can really breathe new life into an organization. (If done poorly, it just saps the will to live from the organization, but let's not go there....) Yesterday it hit me: I need to reorg my life!

How lucky that Laura Vanderkam contacted me after reading some of my comments on The Mama Bee (and a post or two here, I think) and offered to send me a copy of her new book,  168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think. I accepted her offer, and last week, the book arrived in my mailbox. It is a well written book, full of interesting observations about how busy we are (or aren't) and ideas about how to make more time for the things that really matter to you. I encourage anyone who wonders how some people manage to have high power careers while working a 40-50 hour work week to check this book out. It might answer the question for you.

It feels like a bit of cosmic karma that this book arrived in my life at this exact time, because I normally feel like I have things fairly well sorted out in the "work-life balance" department. I would have read the book, and maybe even written a review here. But right now, things are out of whack, and the book has actually given me some insights into why and ideas about how I might try to fix things. So I've decided to do something I almost never do- I'm going to do the exercises the book suggests. OK, maybe I'll only do some of them. But I've also decided to post about them as I do them, because I figure that will keep me honest. Feel free to play along in the comments (or in posts on your own blogs)- I think it would be interesting to see other people's answers to these exercises. (But if you're really intrigued by this subject, I encourage you to get your hands on a copy of the book, because there is far more in it than I'm going to summarize here- and I probably will skip some exercises, because I'm lazy that way.)

The first exercise is to keep a time diary.  This is essentially a spreadsheet tracking how you spend your time in every hour of every day. I'm going to keep mine for a week, because I actually already have a pretty good idea of what I spend my time on (one of the reasons why this book might not have had as much of an impact on me if it had arrived at a different time in my life). I think this exercise will give me some more details, though. The book suggests that you just write down what you did and then go back and put things into categories later. I'm going to skip ahead a bit, and track my time by categories right now, because I already know what categories most of my time will fall into. I'll have an "other" category for surprises!

So instead of one spreadsheet per week as the book suggests, I'm going to have one spreadsheet per day with the time increments going down the rows, and my categories going across the columns. Here are the categories I'll use:
  • Sleep (which will include time I'm up in the middle of the night nursing Petunia, etc.)
  • Eating
  • Child care (feeding, dressing, bathing, etc)
  • Playing/reading with kids
  • Food chores
  • Housecleaning chores
  • Laundry
  • Organizational chores
  • Personal care (i.e., getting ready for work, getting ready for bed)
  • Commuting
  • Work - IT
  • Work - Informatics
  • Work - Project Management
  • Work - Other
  • Breaks at work
  • Exercise
  • Internet, blogging, etc
  • Reading
  • TV
  • Time with Hubby 
  • Time with friends/family
  • Other
I'll track my time in 15 minute increments (easy enough for me- I used to charge time in 15 minute increments when I was a contractor) and the last column in my spreadsheet will be "comments",  in which I can enter details. I'll start on Wednesday- I need time tomorrow to set up my spreadsheets. I'll post the results sometime after Wednesday next week. Those of you who know me in real life can start placing bets about how many hours will go in each category... I have my guesses, but all I really know is that the total will add up to 168!

Updated to add: I published the timetracking spreadsheet I'll be using, in case anyone wants to copy the format. I have to say, Google docs is pretty awesome.... I'll be able to edit this spreadsheet from home or work, so I won't have to spend any time transferring data around.


  1. Hmm, I need one of those too! I found myself completely enraged with my husband recently when he said that I seemed to laze around watching telly instead of getting on with my business plan! I always make sure to sit down with him after dinner and watch a bit of telly otherwise I feel guilty for not spending any time with him! Clearly he doesnt notice one way or the other!

    I find that my life is a bit too organized sometimes though, and I probably need a little more spontenaety (Sp?), that is one thing that makes me happy, to suddenly decide to do something out of the ordinary, or to change my routine up every now and then.

  2. Okay, I think I'm in. Although to be honest, I'm a little afraid at what this exercise might show. But my life has been so hectic and crazy lately, that I would like to at least see what is taking up all my time. Especially when my hubby is away from home.

    Good luck adjusting to the weaning. I have always been really affected too, by the nursing/weaning and PMS. It so fun for all around me! ;-)


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