Hourly Tracker

Having your momentum stolen is defeating. I talk about it here but I also talk about two things I did to start moving forward again.

With my recent excuses about not having time to create, and the knowledge that my kids would be learning from home for at least the first 9 weeks, I knew I needed to gain back control of my time schedule and the first place I needed to start was by tracking my hours to see where they were going.

Besides immersing myself in inspiration, the second thing I did was to begin taking account of everything I did each hour of the day.

I haven’t done this in a long time and the first time I did it years ago I was skeptical.

Skeptical because it seemed like in itself it would take up a lot of time and wouldn’t give me much information because I thought I already knew what I did with my day.

But I decided to give it a day, even though a mentor had suggested going one week recording each hour. After a day I realized it didn’t take so much time to jot one word to describe what I did. But most important, after just one day I realized I probably needed to be recording every 5 minutes because I was always jumping around tasks. I knew this was a time suck. So I decided to take on the week and record each hour.

What resulted told me a lot about where I was spending my time. I had a toddler and a baby then, so time was so very precious. The first thing I did was to start blocking my most important items during their nap time – in what is most important – an uninterrupted time block.

Which opens up a new planning management tool I love to use that also saves me so much time because I’m not constantly switching tasks: Time blocking. By blocking in time, I’m not bogged down by transitions that cause me to either become distracted or procrastinate.

I know I have to give time to my daughters since they are learning from home, and I know there are things I should and want to be doing, but the mama in me tends to always put other people first. I let my own creating and business related activities fall to the wayside and I make excuses for doing it. I also tend to feel bad when I do those things while my kids entertain themselves.

A current mentor of mine just earlier in this week said this is OK – words I definitely needed to hear. She said first of all when kids are bored they are forced to start searching out the things they’d like to be doing, building passion for activities into their lives, not suggested or forced by us. They are trying out new things, exploring, and finding a way to solve a problem themselves. This is what our kids need. (By the way I started implementing this week and yes my kitchen ended up a mess because my youngest decided to bake cookies, brownies, and muffins – but she was discovering what she likes and she made some mistakes which helped her learn how to cook on her own because I told her I couldn’t help her at the moment. I am nice about it and offer to help later. Unfortunately she is helping us put on some weight).

My mentor also pointed out they need to see us working, being creative, our processes, and pursuing what we want to be doing. We are their best teachers by modeling. All of this was words I needed to hear. It gave me permission to create and work without feeling guilty or worried that I’m not being a good mom.

So here I was gaining permission this week to create but also tracking my schedule by the hour. Also this week, I took the same tracker, sat in my backyard with a cup of coffee one morning and day dreamed about how my perfect days would go if I could make them anything I wanted. I wrote down the perfect weekly schedule that I envisioned. The vision given to me is what I want to aim for.

Now I know I don’t live in a perfect world but I do know I can try to come as close as I can to this vision. So today as I finish up tracking my hours, I’ll create a schedule that takes into account when my girls will need me and when I can create and work. After that I know I won’t have many excuses to get as close to the realistic schedule as I can. I just need to be diligent about sticking to it.

Because I’ve been working on a new pattern collection, I created 2 hourly trackers that I used this week. I wanted to share them here with you because I know as we enter a new school year with everyone’s school schedules looking different it’s a great time to figure out where you can block out time to do the things you need to do!

You can download it below by entering your email (plus you get access to the download library and weekly little chats from me (smile)). Also, I broke down the steps above into a more readable format. Go ahead and give it a try!

Action Steps

  1. Download and print out the hourly tracker. As best you can  (it doesn’t have to be exact) track the hours in your day for 1 week.
  2. Analyze those hours to see if you have time sucks that can be addressed. Also determine where you are switching tasks too much and can replace by utilizing bigger time blocks or batching your tasks (for example I write all of my content for social media, this blog, and my email at once for the week – I don’t write different days or hours – it’s batched into one job, saving time).

    I find transitions to be difficult for me because I get distracted by other things and tend to procrastinate getting started on something new, so batching and blocking help me conquer this.
  3. Create an ideal weekly schedule – one that you day dream about  (yes, mine might have included sitting at the beach all day which is ok but also think about how you really want and need to spend your time).
  4. Create a new schedule that incorporates those things that you know have to happen based on your actual hours spent (like cleaning the kitchen is not on my ideal schedule but it has to happen) and on your ideal schedule. Block and batch and find pockets of time to incorporate what you need to do.