I’ve been reading and re-reading some time management books by Laura Vanderkam. Starting Monday, I’m doing two weeks of hardcore time-tracking. I’m not exactly looking forward to it… I know it will reveal a lot more chunks of “watching Netflix” and stuff than I’d like it to. But those chunks of time that I feel bad about represent chunks of time that I can repurpose towards things like writing and reading.
The only issue I see with this method of revealing free time is that with a young baby, you can’t count on exact spans of time at exact clock-times. For example, one day the baby might take a midday nap from 11:55am to 1:30pm. But today, he has been asleep for more than two hours starting at 12:20pm. Had I known that he would sleep for this long, I would have chosen to spend my time differently than I did! However, his consistency is rapidly improving and his sleep is becoming somewhat more reliable. If the next two weeks of time-tracking don’t feel relevant a couple of months from now, I can repeat the experiment.
I’m also focusing on three key elements of digital minimalism suggested by Cal Newport:
- Identifying how I can use the Internet to feel connected without using it as an excuse to browse. Towards this end, I’ve used an app and some phone functionality to block social media apps on my phone every day from 1pm until 8pm. I plan to expand this timeframe as it gets a bit easier, but it has already improved my evenings. Now I can’t look at social media until after both kids are asleep.
- Leaving my phone somewhere in the house when I get home rather than carrying it with me. This sort of happens by itself when most of the apps are blocked anyway. But there are times when I feel I need my phone available, like when I’m working from home with one kid at daycare; they could need to reach me at any time. Luckily, in an emergency I expect a phone call and not a text, so I’ve been turning the ring volume up and leaving my phone in one place. Knowing that social media isn’t available to browse has reduced my anxiety.
- Re-engaging with quality leisure, and perhaps finding local, physical community involvements. Community involvement is a tough one for me, given where we live. But, I have been reading on my Kindle when I would normally browse my phone. I’ve also downloaded and made available the Kindle phone app. I’ve scheduled time at the gym and working on our yard this weekend, and next week I am having dinner with a friend. Tonight, my husband and I have set aside time to make a good, healthy dinner together and split a bottle of wine. I also still need to make one phone call to a friend; I’ve been struggling with this because phone calls make me nervous. I’m out of practice.