So we completed our time study experiment and it was more difficult to track than I expected. The days that it’s most important to track, our busy days, were the most difficult to track. Putting together all the data also took a lot of time. Why do this? To make time of course.
“You will never find time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.” – Charles Buxton
Exactly, so let’s make some time! First we had to figure out that we have been spending all of our time on.
Here’s the whole gross table with all the information.
The black area is sleep and the gray area is where we forgot to track our time.
I consolidated the data into 14 categories: Admin/plan, Blog, Clean/Housekeeping, Drive, Errands, Family Activities, Hangout, Kid Care, Meal, Meal Prep, Not Tracked, Self Care, Sleep, and Work. Here’s the Key:
In many cases we’re doing several things at the same time. Here for example:
Em was getting dinner ready, helping the kids with their homework, and washing dishes before dinner. I divided that into some kid care and some meal prep. Too much detail creates too many categories. It’s unwieldy. I also created a “corrected” chart and dataset that categorized some of the untracked time. I corrected the data by comparing typical days and activities, like taking kids to preschool and eating dinner. Here’s the full consolidated chart:
Time Study Results
A few interesting things can be seen from this graphic.
The sleep in the middle of the day is me taking a 20 minute power nap in my car at lunch, which I managed to do every work day in this two week period. I very highly recommend this. It allows me to sleep a little less during the night and I get a refresh in the middle of the day.
Em has a lot more untracked time since she is usually at home doing various things, while I’m at work for 9 hours plus 1.5 hours of driving. That’s pretty easy to track.
We actually got a date during this fortnight! (the second Saturday). We went to a beer festival/tasting at an amusement park. Yes, it was amazing.
So what to do with all of this information? Crunch it into charts:
I expected meal prep, eating, and clean up to be a larger part of time. Meal prep and meals is only 50 hours, which is less than the clean/housework category. Granted, a portion of that cleaning is due to meals, but I expected meal prep to be a larger factor. Em has already done great stuff optimizing the preparation of school lunches. She prepares the basic building blocks for their lunches and then they make their lunches each night before school. She has also started batching as much cooking on Monday after the weekly grocery trip.
Here’s our time broken down to a daily average:
I was surprised by the amount of sleep we get, since I almost always feel tired. It averages out to a little over 7 hours a night. This is due to sleeping in on the weekends. Sleeping in carries a price however. We can either get up early and relatively peacefully, or try to sleep in and wake up to the smoke alarm since someone decided to toast bread in a pan on the stove. I think the reason we’re always tired though is because our sleep is rarely uninterrupted.
We would be better off if we evenly distributed those hours throughout the week so our bedtime and waking time were the same every day. I just haven’t been able to get to sleep by 10:20PM during the week, which would be required to get 7.5 hours before waking to get ready for work. There are often kids still awake at 10PM (the oldest fights sleep like cat fighting a bath).
First, we are going to tackle optimizing meal prep and cleanup, even though this is not the largest non-fun time category. I want to do this first because it is a relatively discrete task. The largest category (cleaning/housework), is partly due to the age of the kids. It’s hard to get ahead in the cleaning department when a toddler is wreaking havoc throughout the house. This category was also skewed because I spent several hours replacing brakes on two cars and did a lot of landscaping. I suppose that could have gone under a “home improvement” category, but I was running out of colors for the graph…
Back to the plan. We are going to work on optimizing meal time and everything that goes along with it. As a secondary goal, we will be looking for ways to streamline cleaning/housework. I think most of that will be simply trying to get the kids to make less mess in the first place and repeating ourselves until we die or they move out, whichever comes first.
Besides minimizing our overall chore time, I know one of the things that we need to work on is being more disciplined in keeping the same schedule day to day. This can be very difficult with children however because sometimes they require much more help and love and care on some days. If the family gets sick, that can throw off the entire schedule.
Try keeping track of your time for a week or two. Even if you don’t capture everything that you do, there are things that can be learned to help improve your daily life.