I’m going on a time diet

I’ve got an accounting problem on my hands.  Accounting was my worst grade in college–the only class where I earned a C.  Overburdened by responsibilities in other classes and woefully behind on and confused by the material, I capitulated mid-semester.  It’s amazing how dramatic life seems at age twenty-one.  At the time, I felt that getting a C in accounting was the end of the world.  I worried endlessly that my degree in economics and my future plans to work in business would be ever-marred by this blemish on my transcript.

Ah, how different life is 15 years later. I care less about accounting in an economic sense. I’m summoning my knowledge of debits, credits, and amortization to solve the time loss I’m experiencing in my life.  I’m losing time every day–time to spend with my incredible little girls, time to spend with my husband, with my family and friends, time to spend on my writing or reading or just sleeping.  I’ve been wandering through time since the start of the semester and chalking up poor communication, deferred tasks and loads of stress to loss of time.

Conservation of time is kind of like conservation of money or some other resource.  In other spheres of life, when you want to conserve something, you instate a diet of sorts. If I was shoring up my finances, I might log my every expense.  If I was trying to lose weight, I would note every calorie consumed.

Can the same strategy apply to time?  In order to understand time loss, first, it’s important to account for the time.  (I am only now realizing that this post may be full of unintended punning and wordplay).  In light of the recent and unexpected loss of our uncle in September, I have been wondering whether I am spending my time well.  How can I conserve the time I have to use it in a way that makes me happy?  And how do I figure out where the lost time goes?

I am the first to admit that I give in to distractions far too easily.  When I am able to carve out blocks of time to write or read or grade or whatever, I am shocked at how productive I can be.  To use my time efficiently, I have experimented in the past with work strategies–sometimes focusing on one big task and other times allowing work to consume me.  Practically speaking, I learned about an app called Toggl where you can log your time (especially your work time) to figure out where things go.  Without more efficient use of my time, my energy feels misdirected or I find myself apologizing for not accomplishing a seemingly important task.

Another way I’m clawing back my work time, finding a community of writers to keep my accountable for my work.  In the coming month, I’m committing to a productivity push with the Academic Writing Month (#acwrimo) movement.  Consider adding yourself to this spreadsheet and reporting your progress.

My average knowledge in matters of finance should serve me well in accounting for my time.  I’m still curious about how other people manage their schedules, though.

Tell me about your time diets.  I’m hungry for them.

About rglw

Sociologist mom writes for work and for pleasure.
This entry was posted in academia, blogging, community, higher education, lessons learned, personal, work, writing. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to I’m going on a time diet

  1. AcWriMo is new to me but it sounds like a great idea. I’ll go and check it out! 🙂 The thing I struggle with is when I don’t have uninterrupted blocks of time to work, read and write. I work best in the morning and I like to get up early to get a couple of hours work done before the day begins in earnest.

    I find it really hard to work in noisy spaces and the best way to be productive, for me, is to avoid the internet unless it is strictly for work purposes. It is so easy to procrastinate on YouTube, Sporcle or Facebook.

  2. Pingback: Time diet update | rogue cheerios

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