Funny about Money

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ―Edmund Burke

Time Management: The Meta-List

So once again I find myself feeling that I spin my wheels a lot, I loaf a whole lot, and I don’t get many things done. This, as it develops, is not entirely true…but an investigation shows that I surely do not make the best of all possible use of my time.

The other day it occurred to me to list the things that have to be done, and how often (i.e., how many times per week), and the things that I’d like to do but that are not required for survival or sanity maintenance. This produced a couple of interesting lists:

Note that this does not include paid work. This is just the stuff that needs to get done to maintain the house, the human, and the dogs…more or less.

Doesn’t look like much, does it?

Soooo….WTF am I doing that blows away day after day after day with seemingly little or nothing gettin DONE??? That is the question.

Presumably, I answer that question presumptuously, what I’m doing must be LOAFING. Procrastinating. Staring into space. Surfing the Web (which is the same as staring into space).

What always gets me off my duff is a list. So the natural response to this presumption is to create a list. But what came to mind was not a daily list but a kind of weekly list: something that would posit all those things, above, which could be used to drive a daily list. Or rather, seven daily lists a week. How to construct such a thing?

Based on the frequencies suggested in the neurotic accounting above, I wondered how much time do I actually spend on these activities? Assuming I were to do them as often as I think they need to be done… Here’s what developed:

Decimals represent portions of an hour: .25 = 15 minutes, for example.

So…on a day when I was accomplishing all these things (and often I do have to do all those things in one day), I’m spending between 6 hours, 40 minutes and 12 hours, 30 minutes each day just on living tasks…not counting paid work. That comes to a potential weekly total of almost 62 hours.

Total waking hours vary by the season — I tend to sleep more in the winter because it’s dark longer. In general, I’m awake 15 or 16 hours a day, or 105 to 112 hours a week.

So in theory, the demands above do leave time to do paying work. To break loose enough time to handle a major project — approximately 40 hours a week — I would have to cut out cleaning, gardening, networking, physical therapy/yoga exercises, dog care, shopping, surfing the Web (i.e., reading daily news), blogging, and writing. Obviously, this isn’t practical…but as a practical matter, I rarely have a project that demands a full 40-hour work week.

But…think about that:

Just to keep up the house, the yard, and the pool, care for the dogs, care for myself, and have THE most rudimentary of all possible social life occupies almost 62 hours a week! No wonder I’m so tired by the time I stumble off to bed.

Admittedly, a seven-day week…but life does not stop on the weekend. When you’re freelancing, work does not stop on the weekend, either.

So, with this meta-list in hand, what would a typical daily routine look like? Days of the week would differ, of course, because not all of these things have to be done every day.

From the meta-list comes a slew of daily task lists:

Washing the hair is a major project — it requires several hours to dry, and so time must be negotiated around that process. On Wednesday, for example, the hair would have to be done early in the day so as to have it manageable before I have to leave for choir practice. And the job had better be done on Saturday, else I’ll be charging out of the house Sunday morning with dirty hair. 😀

What with the new allergy to something — very probably dog hair & dander — the floors now have to be cleaned every day. Fortunately the house is completely tiled…but this task includes cleaning under all the furniture as well as schlepping up dog hair in more visible places. Oh well. At least the house always looks nice…

Cleaning the pool is easy, but time-consuming. Blogging is time-consuming in a big way. Cleaning the house includes laundry, a multi-taskable job.  It also includes ironing, a nonmulti-taskable job…unless you regard watching Rachel Maddow while ironing as a form of multi-tasking. Writing is by its nature time-consuming, if you make yourself sit down and do the job. A mile-long walk with two dogs, one of which drags you forward and one of which drags you backward, is good exercise but can also absorb 30 or 40 minutes. The physical therapy exercises only take a few minutes, but if I were to actually do the yoga routine that I should be doing every day, that bit of self-care would consume an hour or so. “Water and tend plants” doesn’t look like much till you realize that I live in a xeric jungle. Today, for example, I started hacking back the blue plumbago and the Lady Banks rose at 10 in the morning and knocked off at about 3 p.m.

Come to think of it…I need to knock this off and get on with the next project. And so, to work..

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Author: funny

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  1. I thought you gave one of the dogs to your son. Did I miss its return?

  2. Yup. When it developed that the wound on Cassie’s face was not from a bite but the result of a dental abscess, Ruby came back home. My son kept her for about a week or ten days, until Cassie recovered from the surgery and was about back to normal.

    My son was very kind to allow Ruby to be foisted on him. However, it was not the best of all possible arrangements. Although he’d like another dog, he wants another golden — he much prefers larger dogs. And Ruby is a strange little character, a bit of a pest. And she pined. She would climb on the table next to the front window and sit there peering out, waiting for her human to come pick her up.