One of the things I find most interesting about the new New York Times series I discussed last week is the insight it gives into the ins and outs of scheduling in different families. Since I was a little girl, I’ve loved calendars, decorating my grade school wall calendar with bold stickers and color-coding my high school planner with my four-color pen. I still cling to a pen-and-paper calendar and find myself relying on it more and more as my kids come to have schedules of their own (even though I am ever tempted by my friend Sarah’s hybrid system).
Not surprisingly, I guess, given my book project, I’ve also long been fascinated by the daily routines of creative types. I read more closely whenever I come upon an article or interview where a writer shares the rhythm of her days. I find inspiration in knowing how others – especially other moms and writers – structure their time and reassurance in the reminder that there’s no one formula for doing it “right.” I also enjoy studying the picayune details of other people’s systems in the way an athlete might look at his teammates for any possible tweak or competitive edge: their vitamin supplements and isometric exercises are my highlighters and walking desks.
Having just moved and still settling into a new routine, my own schedule is still in flux, but here’s what my average workday looks like right now:
7ish get up, get dressed, eat breakfast, get the kids dressed
8-12:30 kid duty (including various and sundry adventures like going to the playground, visiting the library, shopping for groceries, and making and eating lunch)
12:30-5 work (My husband and I both work at home; we don’t have any regular childcare so we split the workday into two blocks, with each of us alternating work with taking care of the kids)
12:30-1 household CEO stuff (e.g. paying bills, making doctor’s appointments, returning phone calls)
1-4 work on my book for a three-hour block in three 45-minute tranches à la this post at PrawfsBlawg
4-5 freelance projects
5-7 make dinner, eat, family time
7-8 bath, books, and bedtime for the kids
8-10ish hang out with my husband (these days, that means watching that day’s stage of le Tour)
10ish-11 read for pleasure
11 lights out
This routine is working pretty well – for me, for now. I really enjoy having the whole morning with the kids. The lazy pace of the summer suits us as we get to know our new home and new town. I also find myself totally immersed in my book project in the afternoons. This whole work-life balance thing feels on an even keel.
But here’s what’s missing: with the exception of a weekly yoga class and incidental activity I get from finishing unpacking and hanging out with the kids, I’m not getting any regular exercise and my back is starting to protest. I also both need and want to put in more hours on the book, especially during weeks when intensive freelance projects take up the majority of my working hours. One look at the schedule above shows me that I could find plenty more time every day by waking up earlier, going to bed later, or working in the evenings. Given how much I covet my sleep and my time with my husband, I’m hoping that I can find more free time without compromising either once the kids start school in September.
As in all things, I guess, we shall see.
What’s working right now for you with your schedule? What would you like to change?