In preparing my last blog post I got carried away doing research on the history of the modern calendar and ignored my original plan to describe the calendar I created for 2019. Today I’m returning to that topic. My calendar is not for hanging on the wall nor is it a date book. It’s but a small notebook with blank pages in which I write the date and make a bulleted list of how I spent my time. I don’t include how much time I spent on each activity, just list what I’ve done during the day. It’s not that different from my first grade school diary in which I noted the day’s highlights: went to school; played with Darlene after school; had my piano lesson; Jimmy Butler smile at me today. I started that one with the goal of capturing my secret life. Having none then or now, I just want to get a picture of how I spend my time.
The inspiration for this investigation came from questioning why I never seem to have time to explore two projects that interest me. One is sketching. Years ago, when we spent a month each summer in Mexico I sketched and turned my drawings into greeting cards, primitive looking greeting cards, but ones I enjoyed and my friends did too.
The other is digging deeper into my family tree. I receive at least one message a day from MyHeritage.com notifying me of someone waiting to hear from me as to whether we share a great-great-great-great-great-great uncle on my father’s side of the family, one who was the third husband of an aunt preceded by the same number of greats and not a blood relative at all. Given the arrival of these announcements, I calculate that a possible 400 relatives are waiting for my response. I don’t feel guilty about not answering. I only want to know who my real relatives were. Without time to research, I can only create fantasies about my Viking ancestors, residents of Normandy, France, who fought alongside William the Conqueror. I do have speculative documents that suggest the latter but no proof they are accurate, and I made up the part about the Vikings on the basis of my Swedish great-grandmother named Mary.
Ten days into the year I’ve already learned something important: though I’ve slowed down some I’m not a big time waster, but I eat a lot. My daily writing, exercising, reading and less frequent volunteering take sizable amounts of time, I’m also — with my husband — doing chores, cooking meals, shopping every few days for groceries, paying bills, answering emails, trying to solve one annoying tech problem after another, and feeding the cat (if you saw him you’d know he eats a lot too). I would have much more time to devote to the important stuff if I had 1) a butler 2) a cook 3) a volunteer to take over my volunteering 4) a teenage grandchild who understood technology 5) a personal shopper and 6) a nail technician who made house calls.
However, something tells me that if I had all these attendants I still wouldn’t be drawing or digging into family history. I’d be trying to escape from all the extra people running about the house making me wish I were alone. And where would they sleep? The only one worth wishing for is the teenage grandchild.
Although I now have a picture of my days, I’m still going to keep track of what I do. My calendar has a limited number of pages so I don’t have to bother with it for long. Over the course of a month or so, I may find some holes in the schedule. And perhaps someday I’ll give up one of my current projects and go back to one waiting for me to return.
Could it just be less a question of how you spent your time and more a question of what priority and importance you give the activities on which activities you choose to do ?
Yes. And for now I’m not unhappy with the priorities, though the ones I’m not doing are nice to think about too
You have pin pointed a couple of worthwhile pursuits. I hope you get started on one of them, and have the satisfaction that brings!
Thanks. I might work on these once I complete the 2nd draft of my novel and think it’s time for a break.
I loved your idea of writing down how you spend your day—I’ll have to try that one. As I do journal and actually have for years, I like the idea of noting just what a typical day might look like. Sorry I didn’t do that more when I was teaching and had children, albeit I’m probably learning enough of what my life was like as I watch my daughter, teaching and raising three children.
You didn’t have time when you were teaching and raising three children.