Worried I wasn’t getting enough time to write and also trying to figure out how in hell I was going to find time to start riding again, I decided to take a good look at a typical week. I highly recommend the following activity. It’s illuminating, validating, and fun, at least for spreadsheet geeks. Like a film maker, I start with a tight shot of the details, pan, and focus, then zoom out for the overview. Working with a basic spreadsheet, I began with this:
Then I made some assumptions:
- 168 hours in a week
- 56 for sleeping (8 x 7)
- 14 in the kitchen
- 25 at work
- 84 hours a week scheduled (8am-8pm)
Much of this I already have figured out, but I needed to see it all in one place to see where to work in the fun bits. I suspected I had enough time, but I needed validation. After filling in my usual schedule, and taking into consideration the impossibility of doing anything outside in the afternoon heat of summer, I found two mornings for messing with the ponies.
Zooming out, I saw nice blocks of focused time, so I added color for fun. I tallied activity hours, added a percentage column, and came up with picture of a very balanced life. Fist pump! I live for things that look good on paper.
According to my calculations, my biggest priority is home-making. And that’s true. The pursuit of comfort and a high quality of life is very important to me, so it’s no surprise that it accounts for 40% of my time between 8am and 8pm. Bob and I like to eat and be comfortable, we like a clean house, nice yard, and laundry that’s never more than a load behind. We believe in the power of locally-grown food and that takes time. We’re vegetarians on a tight budget so I stretch our dollar by baking sourdough bread, using dried beans rather than canned, and making lunch “meat,” “hamburgers,” “ribs,” and cashew cheese. All that chopping, baking, bean-soaking, and menu planning takes an average of fourteen hours a week and is worth every minute. We dine like royalty.
My second priority is work at 30%, which is a lot like home-making in another place. I keep my eyes on things at The Plant, a robust eco-industrial park on the east side of Pittsboro. Grounds keeping, bookkeeping, sales and marketing, facilities, and tenants all need tending and I’m able to keep things running in roughly twenty-five hours a week.
20% for play sounds like a luxury but it is essential to my sanity. All work, as they say, makes one dull. Back in the day I had a full time job which left little time for play except on the weekends when I was cramming in all the cooking, house and yard work. I’m older than that now. At sixty-two, I will not work a full-time job. Those fifteen hours I used to spend grinding my mind numb have become me-time, time for horses, walks, and catching up with my friends.
So there you have it, a sure-fire way to put your life in perspective. I’m a visual person so get a lot out of laying things out where I can see them. You may already have everything you need for a balanced life. Using a plain old spreadsheet, I found out I did.