Investing Time and Other Musings

A number of my recent posts have been about managing time and using all those spare moments that make up the bulk of this Stay-At-Home-Mom’s day. Following this quest, the book I am currently reading is Laura Vanderkam’s ‘I Know How She Does It- How Successful Women Make the Most of their Time’.

I am only half way through the book, and already am delighted by the many inspiring but practical techniques to follow. One concept that stood out to me is mindfulness and measurement. Being conscious of your time and the need to log your activities makes one really mindful and cognizant of what we are doing. I know this by personal experience because I logged my time for a few weeks. Read more on that here. One of the best benefits of time logging was how involved and engaged I was. I actively tried to maximize my time, energy and tasks. This means batching tasks and mindful multi-tasking.

Also, from my recent Positivity Ratio tracking, I realized that planning my day and time with T to include a mix of routine and novelty keeps her and me both happy. Planning what I will do in spare moments, being prepared for all those spare moments keeps me away form distractions. After all, time is like salary. Like my father (an accountant) is fond of quoting:

It is not about how much you earn, but how much you save!

Or more appropriately:

It is not about how much time you have, but what and how we invest that time in!

I am hence trying to invest my time in high return activities:

  • health : cooking, exercising, eating consciously
  • career: studying, doing personal projects, working on my online biz presence
  • reading: keeping books of all formats at hand, saving book lists and finding which are in my library.

I would also like to mention her how I tackle the books on my reading list:

  • I maintain a list of books to read on my iPhone.
  • Whenever free, I check if it is available in my library.
  • If yes, I add the accession number.
  • On my next visit, I know what aisle to head and grab the book.
  • If not, I check if available on Hoopla Digital, the online platform. I access it via my library and borrow if available.
  • If not, ask around: interlibrary loan, friends. Usually: works!
  • If not, check a different book. 🙂

Being intentional helps me read the books I want to and not just any fluff. Plus, it keeps the preschooler form whining as I search for the books I need as opposed to carting her off to the kiddie section.Win-win!


Spare Moments – 2

I last wrote about Spare Moments here. This week I am adding my current activities in those spare moments. Like everyone knows, a few minutes here and there can add up to quite a bit. If used judiciously, they can be directed to completing small tasks of large projects.

So, below is my list of spare moment activities:

  • Read ‘To Sell is Human’
  • Peruse Twitter 
  • Complete reading articles from Entrepreneur, Inc., Forbes, HBR that I have saved on my reading list.
  • Squats and stretches (not too often though)
  • Complete any super short task on my to-do list (if any)
  • Clear a corner or surface (plentiful of mess in our bustling home☺)
  • Answer a survey for charity on

Beginning July, I shall also be working on a novel draft as a Camp NaNoWriMo participant. Hooray! 

So, what are you spending your spare time on? Have a great week ahead!

Read, read, read

Trying to catch up on my reading list even as T and I zealously finish her large stack of books form the library.

I did not neglect my reading too much while on vacation. Read two books, sneaking in my reading in all those spare minutes! I am also using all my disjointed free time to read all I can. What with T’s vacation, family over for holiday; it is a bit tough! But, religiously following the Spare Time  principle. Every page read counts!!

My list is as follows:

  • Asian Efficiency (self-help)
  • Bhima (pseudo-fiction)
  • Think, Write, Grow
  • Back of the Napkin

I am striving to stay disciplined even on the weekend; hopefully the above success will see me through!

Until Monday’s post; Adieu! Have a splendid weekend ahead!


Time keeping and Making time

It seems like only last month, I was lamenting to my twin about how I am always hard pressed for time and there is too much work and too little time to do it in. I actually stated that while I know everyone has the same amount of time; it feels sometimes, that someone is possibly stealing my time! I feel that over worked! But no more; I no longer feel so rushed.

The change is definitely because of my time keeping. I followed Laura Vanderkam’s time tracking and in just one week, I got so many insights and ideas. With every activity written down, it is hard to fabricate my over work or miss glaring trouble spots. Also, I have the satisfaction of not having to wonder where my time goes- since I know!

While I still am studying my time, especially our unpredictable weekends and the upcoming holidays, I have been able to identify/ change some activities to better use my time. Here they are:

  • Only work/ study while T is away at school. Those hours are precious and allow me to get solid work done, especially studying, coding and writing. I do not use this time for anything else. It’s doubly benefitting, I cross off important tasks and surge ahead during the day with that happiness of having completed my top priorities.
  • Cooking in the late evenings instead of mid evenings is helping. Since I devote all afternoon and early evenings to T, she is happy to play/ watch iPad while I cook. Staying in the kitchen and clubbing all my culinary and cleaning chores together helps get them done better.
  • Ironing has always been a trouble spot for me. Now I just listen to a good podcast/ video to take my mind off it. In fact I conquered my ironing load both these weeks! Yippee!!
  • I have blocked a few sites where I would mindlessly spend time surfing and waste it.
  • Using the ‘Double Dip’ strategy as suggested in the ‘No Regrets Parenting’ book is immensely useful.
  • Reading list and Save for Later Playlist is a good trick. Whenever, I am taking downtime or simply multitasking, I refer to this list. Since, I know what I have to read/ listen, I no longer go down then surf and lose track of time route.
  • Editorial Calendar is another great trick. I blog here and on my website, so, having a clear topic to write on saves me the heartache, cluelessness and succumbing-to-surf-instead-of-research mistake!

I have improved slightly- won’t say dramatically! But I am happy to feel more relaxed now. I actually did some amazing stuff this week:

  • Watched ‘London Has Fallen’ on Netflix
  • T and I watched ‘Zootopia’
  • On the day she missed school, T and I made Fairy wings, wand and a crown.
  • We also found time to play and do homework quite leisurely.
  • Hubby and I devoured Pani-puris and Dal Makhani on the same night. (I would definitely not have ventured 2 prep-intensive dishes on the same day earlier)
  • I did a lot of frying- 3 days in this week. Another activity I would not have thought possible previously.
  • We had company on 2 evenings- and my schedule worked just fine! I did not even ponder if my schedule would remain on track. (This I felt was a big Win!)

Signing off soon that happy note! Have  good weekend! And since the weather and nature are quite violent in places- stay safe folks!


168 Hours Challenge- Eye Openers

I am on my 3rd week of time tracking. And it has given me quite a few eye opening revelations.

  • Housework:
    • Doing housework in the evenings, including cooking, works better for me, as I actually do it a bit more efficiently. Assigning morning or afternoon time slots for such activities is like entering a time warp for me. One task leads to another and I simply never get anything completely done.
    • Mindless housework slows me down. Clubbing it with listening to inspirational videos quickens me up. Later, the rush of having used my time efficiently, aids me to get more work done. This was a big win!
  • Sleep:
    • I do sleep enough. I had previously thought the opposite.
    • On the same subject, finishing my food prep for lunch the previous evening helps me sleep better. The reason is simple: I don’t worry while going to bed about oversleeping or having a rushed morning the next day. Bonus: My mornings are more streamlined as I am not thinking about what to cook or how best to cram too many activities in too little time.
  • Emails:
    • Checking emails sucks me into surfing. Except in the mornings- when I am more brutally prioritizing about it.
  • Grooming/ Getting Ready:
    • Showering in the morning before I drop T at school makes my day more productive. (I think it has more to do with my feeling accomplished and the winning vibes that accompany this small success.)
    • Also, having T and my outfits ironed and ready helped save time not only in wondering what to wear but also limit T’s choices. (I have started limiting T from choosing her dresses for school because we never agreed on accessories and colors and stuff. So, she gets to decide and linger over her wardrobe after she comes home and needs to change. 🙂 )
  • Time Logs:
    • Logging time multiple times keeps me accountable. So, I make better choices when it comes to what activities I spend my time on.

Watch out this space for more lessons and hacks once I complete a month of time logging! Until then, please do share your tips for efficient time management and productivity hacks! Have a great weekend!

168 Hours Challenge- Lessons

My 168 Hours Challenge finished Sunday night. Seven days of tracking my time… honestly! The entire exercise was an eye opener and very enlightening.

Listed below are the lessons I learnt:

  • 15 minute time slots actually work very well. (Contrary to what I thought at the outset). With a young child, it seems my work gets done in 5 minute intervals. So, this was perfect. Plus, I actually got a great sense of my day’s structure and major activities. It also gave me insights on how I can plan my day to make best use of my time.
  • Mindful multi-tasking works. Food prep clubs with podcasts or speaking with a child-‘ double dip’ as ‘No Regrets Parenting’ book states.
  • Clubbing activities in the same room works better than going task by task from my list.
  • Regular sleep, healthy food and down time are essential for a productive day.
  • Timers are not just for kids. Racing against a timer actually spurs me on and keeps me focussed. It also frees me from distractions because I know I will be done in a finite time and can attend to other tasks/ activities then.
  • Having a reading list and playlist of podcasts really helped me. In spare minutes, I knew I had inspiring/ interesting articles and videos to engross myself in. This not only was a wise use of my time but also was  energizing and uplifting.
  •  The biggest win was that I was more mindful of how I used my time. Knowing I would have to log my activities made me treat every minute like the precious commodity it is.

Inspired by the success of last week, I am continuing the challenge this week too. Laura Vanderkam, who issued the challenge and has written wonderful books and articles on time management, has been doing this for over seventeen months. While my goals are not as lofty as hers, I am determined to go on till December to truly discover how I spend my time, especially, in the holidays.  Wish me luck!!

Have a refreshing weekend and a productive week ahead!

168 Hours Challenge

It is Day5 of the 168 Hours challenge- head over to Laura Vanderkam’s blog for more on that.

While I do have today and two whole more days to go, I am so glad I joined. I always wondered where my time just went and now I am getting a very good picture. Since, it is only for seven days- I do not even have the pressure of sustaining this effort. (At least that’s what I told myself when I debated joining the challenge initially). It’s seven days only – no big deal, I thought!

And I  am soon glad I joined. Yes, that joyous, that I had to repeat my previous statement. I am getting all sorts of insights into my days and how I am using my time. In fact, I am getting great ideas to use my time more wisely! Yippee!

So, below are few fun facts and Eureka moments:

  • Eat and sleep well. 

I am sleeping well- almost seven hours in the night. Sure, I woke up three nights for T’s cough and mine- but still… It sure beats short bursts of sleep and really, really late bedtimes! Woo-hoo!

  • Unstructured Playtime with T.

This week was marked with lots of unstructured Play time with T- oodles and oodles of it. I always felt in the past that I could have played more with T… and now it is apparent that I do. Even though, a lot of occasions I do club with mindless chores, I made time for loads of pure play with her. That is the significant point, after all. Double Dip, as the No Regrets Parenting book says!

  • Every day is different.

Monday morning, I wondered if I should quit. Yup, even before I started. T had a cold. She was not going to school. Hubby needed to leave early. My house was neglected and messy, thanks to Hubs and my cooking projects and two potlucks. I was tired due to two bad nights. And Aunt Flow was in full, nasty form. Luckily, I had read in Laura’s blog about how every day is typical. With a child, every day is different. So,  I just decided to plunge ahead and see what happens. Am I glad or what? Despite everything, we did manage to have some semblance of a schedule. I ate and slept on almost the same times and carved out time for myself. How cool is that? (Plus, Laura and her blog posts are my inspiration- she works, has more kids than me and travels too!! )

  • Mindful multi-tasking is key.

Purely physical and purely mental tasks can be combined- with caution. I talk to T and play with her when I am doing jobs like putting away laundry and cleaning or we are snacking. But, I do not shift my attention when cooking, esp. in oil or while driving or when snacking on hot items. Seven with food prep, I ask T to help when she can or just chat with her while cutting veggies. Again, not always -I usually stand well away from her and just drop knives in a dish in the sink if I have to exit the kitchen. An extra load of dishwasher is well worth the peace of mind. Like I said, mindful multi-tasking works.

  • Ditch perfection.

Club activities. Better some time together than no time at all. I do strive for undivided attention . But, sometimes I have to be content with clubbing activities. Like Hubs had a crazy week these past days. Naturally then, watching an episode of TV and chit-chatting or sipping tea together was our time together. Or we would wake T together with hugs and tickling.  Considering we had a sick child and both of us were beginning colds ourselves, moments like these are all you get! Life gets in the way- ditch an ideal, elusive, perfect moments for multiple, great, practically viable moments.

  • Plan key activities/ main tasks.

I approached every day of this week- with only two or three items that I wanted to accomplish. That helped destress me than a bunch of long items that I needed to do. Sure, I did add a lot of tasks to my list. I’ll be honest- I like checking off activities from a to-do list. It’s thrilling. But, knowing I only had 2 or 3 major activities, helped keep me focussed. Another confession: On Monday & Tuesday, my list said- make T feel better, give her medicine and serve warm meals. (Let’s face it- A Mama’s priority is her child)

  • Use technology.

I use an Excel sheet for my editorial calendar- I do not have to think about topics or ideas. I just view the sheet and day, and bang, start writing. These topics are added form my ideas list (on phone) with notes, so, the process is really smooth. Plus, any new idea that I have material for easily can be inserted . Like , this post on 168 hours challenge. I knew I wanted to write it and had materials, so, quickly replaced the post that I had planned originally. I use food trackers, budget trackers, Hootsuite to schedule my tweets, Google Calendar for reminders and Goals (it is so awesome), Notes to capture my shopping list, Reading lists for saving articles I want to read later. Any time I want to share news about a great event or  person or article, I simply email/message or email immediately. Sure, nice to phone or video call, but I find it slips my mind, or takes too much time or mostly, I am just occupied when the thought strikes me. Enter instant messaging/ emailing. Even if I can’t call or chat for long or I forget while in the call or in-person meet up, at least the info was shared. And people feel good that they are in my thoughts. [I’ve just got a Mommy Brain now! 😦 ]

So. these were some of the observations and insights that I got. Do you track your time? Were you following the challenge or plan to? What hacks/ strategies do you use? I am always all ears to fun suggestions and tips. So, share your recommendations and tips in the comments below. Have  great weekend!