Essence D'Etre

Exploring the Essence of Being Creative

Enginerd Moment: 2013 Time Balance

New Years Eve is one of my most favorite times of the year. I especially relish the convergence of the past, present, and future. On New Year’s eve, I feel a sense of accomplishment (and relief) that I survived the year’s ups and downs. I enjoy the present moment festivities shared with family, friends, and champagne. And as always, I am recharged with the anticipation of a whole brand new year, waiting to unfold ahead of me.

Starting in high school, I would start each year in much of the same way by setting some ridiculous litany of goals to accomplish over the next 365 days. However, each year I would lose steam on the majority of my goals or become distracted by new ones that I randomly picked up (squirrel!). Although I always enjoyed the experience associated with each half completed project, I would have very little to show in the way of concrete accomplishments. Recently, I have come to realize (with the help of my fiance) that I have a boundless appetite to start things, but I need to work on my project/hobby/initiative completion rate like  Tim Tebow needs to work on completing a pass.

So with 2013 freshly upon us, I tried to determine what I could realistically achieve over the next 52 weeks. Since I am an enginerd (engineer + nerd), I decided to do a time balance for 2013. Below is a graphical form of my personal results.

2013 Time

First I listed my must-have activities and the average hours per day or week that I spend on these core activities:

  • Sleep I am one of those people who do no function well on less than 8 hours of sleep, I need me some sleep!
  • Work  Definitely budgeting more than 40 hrs here. The 40 hour work week may be a myth for young professionals, but I am thankful that I have a job.
  • Eating I think technically this is a hobby since I look forward to every meal, but this activity is not optional.
  • Routine I didn’t realize how long it took me to get ready in the morning for work and how much time I spent ambling about before I went to bed, but it’s a good chunk of time.
  • Chores and Cooking Entropy is a pain, the apartment always manages to get messy again. Also, I’m sad that I don’t get to cook as much I use to, but the last item on this list is blocking my inner Julia Child.
  • Commute This is a particular sore point for me. For the last four years, my commute to work was never more than 15 minutes one way. Now that I live in Chicago, the time spent in my car has more than doubled. Chicago traffic is mind-numbing and such a time hog!

The above core activities consume about 82% of my time, which leaves a little less than 5 hours a day or 35 hours a week for discretionary stuff.

Next, I tried to budget how much time I should dedicate to my two new big endeavors for 2013:

  • Wedding Planning Since I revel in DIY aspect of planning a wedding, I set aside a decent chunk of time per week to dedicate to wedding planning activities.
  • Part Time MBA I am counting my chickens before they have hatched, since I am still in the midst of writing my application essays. (Confession: blogging is way easier than writing the application essays!) But if all goes well and I am accepted, I hope to start dedicating the majority of my Saturdays starting in September to furthering my education.

The above two items take up another 5% of my time, which leaves 13% of the time for relaxing and other fun activities. I split the remainder of my time among the top three things I want to work on this year:

  • Essence D’Etre  I look forward to the experience of exploring the creative outlet of creating polymer clay jewelry and nurturing my fledgling business to achieve some level of success (no matter how minuscule or modest). 
  • Golf Game I got back on the horse, so to speak, last summer and I am interested in improving my game in order to A) Remain competitive with my Dad and B) Try to break 90 consistently (I have not achieved item B yet).
  • Working Out This one is related to my vanity (and perhaps my long term health as well), but I am pretty close to the antithesis of people who like to work out, so this will be the hardest initiative to work on. I am considering getting a FitBit to help provide some motivation/momentum with this activity.

When all is said and done, the remaining free time I have left over is a little less than 5 hours a week or 3% of the year. Eeeek!! I really wish that I could get my hands on one of Hermione’s Time Turner necklaces!

Time Turner

Now, I know better than to believe that I can realistically spend 97% time carefully planned. Let’s face it, I’ll have stretches where I am so drained from addressing the core activities (work, chores, cooking)  that I will mentally/physically slack off and not make progress on any of the “fun activities”. I also know that I’m going to have some break in projects such as gardening and volunteering. But there is a certain power in having a plan, even if it you are going to deviate from it eventually. I can make conscious decisions on how I want to spend my time, understanding that there are trade offs if I chose to spend time on random endeavors or spend it on negative activities (such as worrying or being angry). It also encourages me to be more efficient in my core activities, so I can spend more time on my MBA, Wedding planning, and other 2013 initiatives. For example, I may try to be more organized with my wardrobe so I can reduce the amount of time I spend getting ready in the morning. Luckily, the consequences are not dire if I do not meet the prescriptive time budget for my fun activities such as my Etsy shop, golf game, or work out schedule and it’s important to maintain this perspective when mapping out the next 8,760 hours of your life.

I know all of us our super busy, so I encourage you do to a similar exercise to understand what lies ahead of you for 2013.

  • What does your 2013 time balance look like?
  • Did you find any surprise time hogs?
  • Are there any areas where you can improve your efficiency and funnel that time towards more fun activities?
  • Do you have enough time to realistically accomplish all the goals you set out to do in 2013?

I would love to hear your time balance and comments on this exercise! Feel free to comment directly to this post. Happy time balancing.


3 comments on “Enginerd Moment: 2013 Time Balance

  1. Michi of Delphina Luxe
    January 14, 2013

    Wow, it’s rather amazing you were able to put this together. So organized! I think my mind is too allergic to math to try this out… and if I did, I’d probably frighten myself with the amount of time I waste on the internet. Haha!

    • essencedetre
      January 14, 2013

      Hi Michi! Thanks for the comment. Yeah, I feel a little self concious revealing how dorky I am. I go easy on myself by putting internet time under a “constructive” category such as my Etsy shop and this blog. There is a lot of internet research required to create blog content and relevant Etsy products! Or at least that’s what I plan to keep on telling myself 🙂

  2. josefinephotography
    January 25, 2013

    Thanks for stepping by and following my blog! I hope you have a wonderful day today! =) //Josefine

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