What Did You Do Today?

Today’s topic is time allocation. Over the last few years, I’ve had a lot of time to think about what I do with my time. Also, what I should be doing with my time.

I’m not sure who should get the attribution, but I think it would probably be one of the Stoic writers I’ve come across, but I have come to believe that knowing how you spend your time, and being deliberate with your time is of primary concern. Why? Because you are what you do. Not what you say, what you tell yourself, what you tell others, etc. You are what you repeatedly do. If I were to give a secondary level of attribution it would be from the book Design Your Life? I might have gotten that name wrong, time permitting I will check against my bookshelf when I get done with this entry. That book encouraged readers to be more deliberate with their choices regarding what they do and why, which resonated with me and re-enforced the Stoics beliefs. Finally, at the third level would be quantified self. I got introduced to QS from Kevin Kelly, and it immediately appealed given it lined up with my work, and it made me want to create personal metrics similar to the business metrics we produced on the job.

When I was working my time was spent working, sleeping, preparing for work, recovering from work, social interactions with with work undertones, etc. By necessity my time centered around my job. With my job no longer in the picture, my days became completely open and unstructured. I lived the dream life of doing whatever I wanted for several months, and enjoyed it a lot, but found that things that greatly appealed at the onset were starting to lose their luster. Going to a matinee movie, spontaneous mid-week trips, etc. Everything was becoming a drag, and it was clear that this type of life would not be sustainable for 40-50 years.

So I started to put more thought into what a normal, day-to-day life should look like, lined up with my priorities and values ideally. As you probably would suspect, I came back to something pretty similar to what is prescribed by norms in society. 8 hours of work, time on either side to prepare and arrive there, some free time for yourself, basic hygiene, and sleep. Here is my target allocation at the moment

24 Hours

Sleep for 8-8.5 Hours per night. This is foundational and I stick with it. I fully-appreciate that it is much easier for me to get this amount of sleep every night since I’m not working and have no kids or pets, but it is a foundational piece.

1 Hour hygiene – this is strange to think about, but I tracked it for a few weeks and found that I spend about an hour in the bathroom everyday. Brushing my teeth, showering, washing my hands and face, using the toilet, etc. Hidden lost time! I was surprised by the amount of time lost here each and everyday, 365 days per year!

2 hours preparing meals and eating – I eat three times per day, and usually prepare my food when it’s time to consume it. Again, was slightly surprised by the time I spend on food everyday, and this is one category where I do feel like there’s room for efficiency gains since I watch TV or read while I eat which can extend the sessions.

20 minutes of meditation – every morning right after I wake up.

40-50 minutes of exercise daily – usually mid-morning, 7 days per week.

1.5 hours of writing daily – one hour here, and thirty minutes in my personal diary each day.

2-3 Horus of reading daily – Internet long forms, magazines, newspapers, and books.

1 hour of listening – I aim for 1 album per day, but this can also be podcasts

1 hour of dedicated reading / watching / listening for professional purposes – this is kind of vague, but currently using the time for technology learning and a little finance too.

1-2 hours of TV – sports generally, sometimes I will watch 1-2 episodes of a TV show. Rarely, will watch a film. I don’t have the attention span for two hours anymore.

15 minutes per day tracking my media consumption – this is related to a project I’m working on, maybe should slot into my professional hour.

1-2 hours a day with my parents – overlaps with meal times, but I spend an hour or so with them in the evening to catch-up, or can also be general housework.

Then I have one-offs, that I don’t do every day, but usually more like once per week.

2 hours per week on Laundry – usually on the weekend

1 hour a week on added hygiene – finger nails, beard clean-up.

You get the idea? I think this is pretty boring, and you probably are thinking the same. Day-to-day life is pretty mundane, but I’ve found that pre-determining time allocations for reading, writing, listening to music, exercising, and spending time with my family locks me in and keeps me on the right track. These actives all line up with my values, and I would consider them to be hours well spent.

When I want to introduce something new into my week, it goes through the scheduling window. When it gets scheduled, and I write it into my day planner, it’s going to get done! These posts are examples of that principle in action.

A few more things – you’ll notice that my summary of actives doesn’t sum up to 24 hours. Yes, I still waste time, usually on the internet, sometimes with TV, and a lot of times daydreaming. I haven’t figured out how to easily keep a record of my “Wasted time” and I also wonder if there is any practical value in doing so. That’s a general question I have with all of quantified self, which is one reason why I’ve slowed down with it. What am I going to do with all of this information? Yes, if I did it long enough, I could make some pretty cool trended graphs, but then what? It’s not like this data is going to foster some type of scientific breakthrough. Further, I am not sure if it is teaching me more about myself than internet applications like google and twitter already know about me via my data inputs. So what’s the point?

That small bit of what’s the point aside, I find value in making sure I have at least a loose idea of where my time is going. Taking it all the way back around, if how I actually spend my time doesn’t line up with what I say my values are, I need to reconcile the conflict, or at least understand what the circumstances around it are. This framework keeps me away from my natural tendency to sleepwalk through life. Although, again, I would question that if I’m being honest with myself. What have I done over the last 4 years? I could come up with an answer, but it would be more of a story rather than a formal chart of time spent. So maybe this is all made-up!

I am going to cut this one off, the writing feels even more all over the place than yesterday. Maybe a regroup is in order! Second-guessing myself. 1276 Words. 39 Minutes.

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