Challenges…

Current challenges:  

Reading and following this to curb my urge to yell, thanks to a not-so-charming world:

  Following this Pre-K rule book and seriously considering if I should distribute copies to the adults around me:

 
 
What I feel like:

   

Ah! The challenges of ordinary everyday life! Who says it’s ordinary or even simple?!

Have a blessed week ahead! 

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Time Tracking

I had taken Laura Vanderkam’s Time Challenge in the second week of September and had fun finding out how exactly I spend my time in the new school year. Read bout that here.

With the 168 hours up (and another too), I finally analyzed the time slots. Here. are the results:

Category                          Weekly                                Average(Daily)

Family                              35.25                                    5.0

Work                                  15.25                                   2.2

Friends                              2.75                                      0.4

Cooking                             13.75                                    2.0

Chores                                36.5                                      5.2

Entertainment                  7                                            1

Sleep                                   57.5                                      8.2

Total                                   168                                        24

Conditions/ Assumptions:

Being an SAHM, I multi-task often. I have to or we would barely get anything done. Plus, my schedule is predominantly about making Hubby and Kiddo’s schedule go smoothly. Hence, I typically weave my tasks around theirs and club chores together. T is still in Pre-K and school just began (at the time of tracking), so, transitions did cause us a bit of grief and upheavals. (parenthood and childhood are both frustrating!) So, I have added my 15-minute time slots in categories based on what tasks it predominantly was composed of.

Family:

When it came to activities with my child, like reading to her, playing Legos and Pretend, coloring (for learning or fun), conversations about science and Paw Patrols  and WonderWoman, I found time slots where I was completely immersed with her and those where I also got mindless chores done. (like folding laundry and ironing) I put both under Family time because the chores were secondary. I even added one bathroom stint because T and I had an excellent conversation planning out mock-drive-through-play while on the commode. After all, inspiration strikes anywhere. 🙂 With Hubby, it was mainly conversations over dinner and snacks. I did not add watching TV together in this category, though we do typically catch a half hour episode on Netflix together.

When I looked at this time sheet, more than the numbers, I am happy about the kind of activities we had together, kiddo and me, Hubby and me and together as a family. This was one of the goals I had envisaged with my last time tracking. About improving the quality of family time. I felt I was a bit embroiled in the grind of everyday activities and could certainly do better in the quality of family time.

Work:

For SAHMs, work is supposed to be zero. Despite the fact that we are always on duty. But, I shall not debate that point in this post. Suffice to say, every family makes choices best suited to them and parenting is plain hard. So, wishing everyone success and strength to follow their duties and responsibilities to the best of their capabilities and within the myriad constraints we all have.

Coming back to my work, for me, it is is studying (my online classes) and my blogs :2 personal and one professional tech-related. Research and data analysis for my professional blog also comes under work. I did about two hours on average, and hope to bump that up with T being in school for a solid four hours. (My total drive time will eat forty minutes, but it still gives me  about 3.5 hours.)

Friends:

This is one sphere that I really need to boost. An average of 20 minutes seems good enough, but the details showed me two bursts of forty-five minutes. This is one key takeaway for me. To improve my friendships and community relationships.

Cooking:

The one unsurprising category in my time sheet. Being Indian, we cook a lot. My actual kitchen time is greater, but this category includes time spent exclusively in cooking, not multi-tasking with cleaning or packing lunches or chatting. It does seem a lot but happy that kiddo is eating her food groups and so am I.

Chores:

I am horrified to see that this made up the bulk of my day, surpassing even Family time! Argh! This includes Driving time, Cleaning, Getting the Kiddo ready, packing lunches, ironing, and of course personal activities like showering, getting ready, etc. Obviously, some activities cannot be cut down (like brushing) or multi-tasked (like driving). But, I did see certain activities with potential to be outsourced (kiddo and dusting) or eliminated (web surfing) or multi-tasked (more ironing while listening to child talk about her day or folding laundry with audio books). This again will require planning and determination. I did finish off reading/ listening to three books with a few multi-tasked activities, so, I know this can be done with a little more practice and deliberation. All the Best to me! 🙂

Entertainment:

Mostly TV time with Hubby, it also included time slots where I ate and read books, or simply watched videos for fun. Hurray! I am delighted to note that I do have solid time chunks for entertainment and not just spare moments grabbed from my time confetti-like days.

Sleep:

I sleep 8.2 hours on average. Weekends definitely improved my average. But, compared to last year, I gained more minute-wise and quality-wise since T is sleeping a lot better in the nights. No more disturbed sleep nights. Yippee!!! Definitely this was the best part of the tracking. Ah, blessed sleep!

Goals:

I gained a lot of insights by tracking my time once again. Knowing where I am spending my time, I have set the following goals to improve my life and relationships:

  • Arrange to spend more time with Friends
  • Aim for three hours of ‘work only’ while T is at school
  • Streamline chores to free more time for exercise and family
  • Add exercise [right now I only managed forty-five minutes of walking every weekday. Since, these were leisurely nature walks that involved more talking with Hubby and kiddo, I clubbed it under Family time]
  • Continue time tracking for a fortnight to gauge if using time better because of self-consciousness  and accountability

So, how do you spend your time? Did you take the Challenge? What did you find out?

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!]