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!

 

Current Challenges – Revisited

I thought I’d give a nice update on my current challenges for August just like in July.

  • Schooling

T and I have been visiting the library and we are done with our Summer Program. We shall be collecting our gift soon. As of this week, T has read over 250 unique books. [Our reading count is higher since T likes to read her favorites over and over again. This is why we had finished the ‘1000 books before Kindergarten’ summer program last year with ~120 unique books. Not bad for a four year old!]

We are learning about time thanks to the Melissa&Doug clock from our library.

Cycling and walking are among our physical activities and making polite conversation constitute our social activities list.

  • Positivity

I finished more than three weeks of logging my positivity ratio; so, I have learnt what boosts my mood instantly and what automatically puts me in a slump. Accordingly, am trying to increase the good moments and avoid the bad ones. Read about my attempts at measuring positivity here and here.

  • Reading

I finished yet another book this week. Hurray! I am reading three books as of now. One is a physical copy, one an audio book and another an ebook. Having discovered how all the spare moments add up, I have resorted to having books around in multiple formats. This means that I can utilize every extra minute for absorbing a great book depending on the situation. Baby sleeping in my arms, go with the ebook. Ironing my never ending pile: listen to the audio book instead of songs. Supervising the li’l angel: read the hard cover. It’s not a perfect technique, but it works.

  • Camp NaNoWriMo

The one glaring blip on my list of challenges. I did NOT reach my target. No excuses or reasons. I am just glad that I learnt some useful lessons that will aid me in this year’s NaNoWriMo.

Make an outline.

Flesh out story and characters beforehand.

Don’t think, just write, never edit.

  • Personal Projects

I finished my MOOC with 95% score. Yippee!!

My pro bono project is in progress. I need to finish that within this fortnight.

 

It’s amazing how simple, ordinary lives too have so many challenges, big and small! What are you tackling now? Leave your thoughts and challenges in the comments below.

Enjoy the weekend!

 

 

 

Stats and Thoughts

WordPress offers excellent analytics on its dashboard, and I love looking at my stats.

Here is a snapshot of my posting activity:

postingactivity

As can be seen, Feb followed by December are my most active months. Feb is T’s birthday, and December is start of winter holidays; so, I have so much content that I can share. Blogging becomes so easy as I have huge pile of adventures and reviews and experiences to share!

I did discount Feb of 2013. T was born in the first week; and had an unfortunate stay in NICU. Naturally, blogging was the last task on my mind)

poststats

It is obvious that I have not posted regularly; not even weekly. And I am yet to surpass the maximum views on that amazing day in 2014. I hope to excel that mark this year by becoming better at the art and craft of blogging.

blogfollowing

This is one statistic that I am surprised by! I mostly post on Fridays on this blog. My Mute Mondays posts appear on Mondays. Yet, the most popular hour is Thursday. Fascinating and useful! As can be imagined, going forward- I shall try and publish my posts on Thursdays! 🙂

The one insight that WordPress does not show me is how amazing the people who read my posts are! Followers or not, every Like, Comment and View fills me with delight and gratitude. I am humbled that you, dear reader, chose to spare time and energy on my work! So, a huge, heart felt THANK YOU for supporting me, and for being on this platform and making it the joyful, supportive community it is!

With a heart full of gratitude and cheer; I wish you all a happy (and warm) weekend!

[P.S.: I know the weather is forecast to be dismal over the weekend; but I’ve learnt from native Chicagoans to bundle up and be toasty and happy anyway! Plus, the last weekend was such a marvelous bonus- I am still counting my blessings!]

 

Alphabet Time

 While attempting to reinforce alphabet recognition, this is a repurposed game that T and I made ourselves.

We used an old alphabet page, cut up the letters (scissor practice is a pre-writing skill) and placed them in this chocolate box.

  Now we do letter recognition as well as matching upper case and lower case alphabets. 

While not exactly original or wonderful, activities like these help pass time (especially in winters) while having fun and being educational! Plus, the actual creation of something useful from waste/ unused items itself is so enjoyable! Win win! 
On that happy note, enjoy the weekend folks! 

Welcoming Fall

20131104-193235.jpgOk, Fall began a few weeks ago, but our community’s Fall Decorations went up only yesterday. That means it is time to Welcome Fall!

That means:

  • Fall Cleaning: deep cleaning the entire house
  • House Makeover: Every Season, I move around our furniture and revamp our closet to keep up with a growing child and changing climates.
  • Halloween: Gearing up for Halloween and more importantly, bracing myself for an avalanche of candy and chocolates.
  • Fall Art and Crafts : Fall also ushers in our major Indian festivals. T and I tried our hand for a few arts and crafts last year and discussed festivals, significance and even culture. We both enjoyed it immensely. I am hoping to make it a kind of tradition. (Fingers Crossed!)
  • Gear up for Winter: Unlike Hubs and T, I am not a big fan of cold weather. In Windy City, I start bracing myself for the coming cold from Fall season- Youtube Scarf & Cloak Fashion Videos, I am coming!!!
  • Renewing Friendships: Since Winter is Coming, I start renewing all the acquaintances that temporarily wane with summer (trips, holidays, etc.). After all, winters mean stay at home (did I mention I am not a fan of cold) and that means boredom. Playdates are the perfect antidotes for kids and mommies alike, so, most of my friends with kids start coming over more often right around Halloween and continue all the way up to Summer. (when our schedules clash but the absence makes our hearts grow fonder?!!)
  • Baking & Frying: Nothing like a warm kitchen and piping, hot food on a chilly day! This time marks the onset of regular baking and frying for me. I am delighted because I’ve taught T to measure and pour carefully, which means we can bake and cook together. (Only safe stuff though!)

So, what does Fall entail for you? Have a good weekend and stay safe!

 

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!