Monday, September 25, 2017

Work Life Balance

A few weeks ago I started reading a book called "I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time".  The author found a few hundred highly successful women, most of which who happen to also be working moms, and had them log their time for a week, and then analyzed the results.
I've gotten a lot out of this book, but mostly this: Stop thinking about your time as a day, 24 limited hours.  There are 168 hours in a week.  If you work 45, and sleep 56 (8 hours a night), there's still 67 hours for other things. You have a 1 hour roundtrip commute?  Then you still have 62 hours left.  You spend 3 hours a day getting ready and/or eating meals?  You still have 41 hours, to do with what you will.  Basically: STOP MAKING EXCUSES.  It's not that you don't have time to do the things that bring you joy--you're just bad at managing your time.

I'm not saying this to anyone else. I'm saying it to myself.  I had a wake up call.  Since having my kid, I've dropped my gym membership, stopped going to my caving grotto events, and just generally stopped doing a lot of things, using the excuse that "I'm a busy working mom". 

Which I am.  Sure.  I'm also a giant hypocrite. I'm in charge of time management and productivity training at my company...

But what have I been doing with those "free" hours?  Sure, 26 of those non-working-sleeping-eating-commuting hours are the weekend, and weekends tend to fill up pretty quickly at our house.  Those other 15 hours?  What am I doing with those?  I'll tell you...

...sitting on my couch scrolling through Facebook or Pinterest, with the TV on in the background (all hail the DVR).  That is our nightly ritual after Lil' Man goes to bed.  Get home from work, dinner,  about an hour or so of playing with the kid, and then *boom*, we're vegetables.

There are so many better things I could be doing.  Or at the very least--things that I could be doing WHILE watching TV!

So...I made a list.  A list of Things that I Would Like to Do More.
  • Crochet.  I learned to crochet from my mom when I was a kid. I'm not good at it--I know exactly two stitches. My mom is left-handed, so I had trouble learning from her.  But I can still make things.  Chunky yarn hides a litany of poorly spaced stitches. I've got a basket overflowing with full skeins of yarn, but haven't made anything in a couple years.
  • Crafting. I enjoy making things. I have a Pinterest board.  I have a CRAFTING ROOM IN MY HOUSE.  In which I've never made a thing (except beer.  We're pretty good at that).
  • Crossword Puzzles.  My ideal weekend would start with a cup of coffee and the answer to 1 Across.
  • Volunteering.  We currently volunteer at our church 2x a month, but I'd like to do more.  Usually my bi-monthly blood donations fill this need, but because of a trip to the apparently malaria-riddled Punta Cana, I'm benched until April of 2018.
  • Exercising.  I'm a Flabby Abby and I know it. I get winded coming upstairs from the basement.
  • Blogging.  I have about 10 recipes I could post right now, but don't make the time.
  • Education.  There's some MIT Open Courseware classes I downloaded several years ago, planning to help fill gaps in my formal education.  I've never started any of them.
  • Devotions. I have an alarm on my phone that tells me to do a devotional every day at lunch.  This gets ignored more often than not.
  • Play outside with my kid/husband.  I see very little sunlight.
  • Spend quality time with The Hubs. Sitting side-by-side watching TV at night while we each have our computers in our laps does not count.
  • Have lunch outside the office.  I eat lunch at my desk almost every work day. And not necessarily because I'm working through lunch. Far too often I end up watching YouTube videos of people cooking while intoxicated, or Irish folks saying funny things about American food that wouldn't be half as funny if not for those awesome accents, or comparing street tacos to lavish meals.  Which, sure, is entertaining, but there are better ways to use this time.
  • Date Nights.  This is probably something every couple with kids wants more of.  But sitters are pricey and we don't have local grandparents to drop our tot off with.
Quite a list.  But none of these are all that daunting individually, or even costly (Date Nights probably being the most so).  And the big revelation--most of these aren't even things I need/want to do every DAY.  Just MORE.

So, then I started thinking: how often could I reasonably do these things?  Or how often do I want to?  When can I fit them in?

What How Often When
Crochet 2-3x / week While watching TV in evenings
Crafting 1x / month An evening or weekend
Crossword Puzzles 1-2x / week Saturday or Sunday mornings
Volunteer 1 hour, every other month After work
Exercise 3x / week Mornings? (ugh), during lunch, evenings
Blog 2x / month During lunch, evenings
Online Course 2-3x/week During lunch
Devotions daily During lunch (come on, lady, it takes like 5 minutes.)
Play Outside w/Family 2-3x/week (in good weather) Weekends, After work
Quality Time w/The Hubs every night Before day care pickup / After Lil' Man goes to bed
Lunch Out 1x / week During lunch (duh.)
Date Night 1x / month Any Night

So...I started trying. I started small. On Sunday, I worked on the Washington Post crossword online while I drank coffee and made breakfast. Granted, I then didn't have time to shower before church, but hey...I did a thing.

I found an online devotional that I liked, and added a shortcut on my internet taskbar to make it as easy as possible to NOT ignore my daily lunchtime reminder.

Then on Tuesday night, I played card games with The Hubs instead of vegging on the couch.  And it was nice.  He slaughtered me, but it was still nice.

And then the next night, I grabbed some yarn and started working on an infinity scarf while we watched Expedition Unknown.

The next morning, I had to get up early for a work meeting. Both The Hubs & Lil' Man were still asleep, so I did on the USA Today crossword while eating breakfast. (I suspect that USA Today's puzzles don't get harder as the week goes on, because there's no way I could finish the newspaper's Thursday crossword in 17 minutes.)

Friday night, I cut out of work a little early and met The Hubs for happy hour at our favorite watering hole.  Then after picking up the kid, we played outside in his "water table" (read: storage tote filled with water and toys) while waiting for dinner to cook.

On Saturday, my brain woke up early, so instead of rolling around for another half hour, I got up, ran up & down the stairs 10 times, did about 10 minutes of floor exercises in the basement, then made a cup of coffee and read for a bit. Was it a LOT of exercise? No.  But it was better than none.

And obviously, I found made some time to blog, otherwise you wouldn't be reading this.  Did I hit all of my items? No.  But I had a great week.  And that's the real point, right?  I made time to do things that bring me joy, and it didn't require any sacrifices--I just used my time more wisely. Hopefully I can keep it up.  I suspect the exercise will be the hardest part--because it's not really something I WANT to do, but it's something I know I NEED to do.  So I'll work at it.

Hope you all have a joy-filled week and can make the time to do things you love.


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