Time as Money - Live Like a Mensch
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Live Like a Mensch

Time as Money

I seem to have a bit of a time management problem.

(As a matter of fact, I have multiple time management problems, two of which are adorable and nicknamed LO and BB, but for right now I'm going to focus on the things over which I theoretically have control).

I currently have a generous 9 hours a week wherein I have the house to myself so that I can get writing done. Yet despite the fact that this "Pfew, there are no kids about!" time is specifically set aside for me to work, I find myself instead spending the time on Facebook, on Pinterest, brewing more coffee, staring dully out the window, and wondering what the kids are up to. While I know that discovering how John Travolta would butcher my name at the Oscars and what time period I and all of my friends ought to be living in are issues of incredibly pressing importance, I do need to actually get something written throughout the week.

Clearly, I need to be better at managing my time. So, earlier this week, I turned to Pinterest--where the answers to all life's questions can be found--and did a search for productivity. One article that I discovered suggested tracking your time in order to put it to better use.

My first instinct was to hurl the computer through the window. This Mensch is no fan of tracking. Way to suck all the fun out of the mindless waste of my daylight hours on ridiculous inanities.

Then, upon second consideration, I realized that I *am* actually a fan of tracking...money. As I've mentioned before, I get a bit of a weird pleasure from balancing my checkbook and paying bills, because I'm neatly tracking, categorizing, and organizing my money. Clearly, the way to get me interested in tracking my time is to pretend I have 24 dollars to spend over every day. I'm much more intersted in spending that wisely than I am in wisely spending my time. (Apparently, I have as-yet-latent Gordon Gekko tendencies. If you see me don red suspenders, slick back my hair, and start telling people that greed is good, please slap me silly).

I also discovered the ability to create rainbow-colored pie charts in Excel, which means I can make my time-as-money tracking both attractive and ridiculous:

My first goal: get that Me Time up from an equivalent of $0.01 of my overall pot (or 40 seconds of my day) to something that could realistically be spent on relaxing. (I'm thinking 90 seconds is a good goal.)

How do you keep yourself on task and manage your time? Is there anyone else who likes to track their day to make sure they stay on task?


By the way, it's not too late to enter to win a copy of my book, The Five Years Before You Retire. Just leave a comment on any one of the four Frugal Olympics posts by Friday, March 7!



haverwench said:

Silly question, but what is all that time spend on Facebook if it's not "me time"?

I mean, if you really enjoy spending all that time on Facebook, then shouldn't it count as "me time"? And if you don't really enjoy it, then couldn't that time be reallocated toward bubble baths?

March 6, 2014 10:07 AM

Emily Guy Birken said:

Excellent point. Facebook is theoretically enjoyable, but is more like a compulsion. (It actually fulfills the intermittent reinforcement requirement that hooks people on gambling). Part of the reason I want to track my time is so I can be absolutely horrified at myself for spending such a ridiculous amount of time on things like Facebook. I need that kind of kick in the behind to disconnect.

March 6, 2014 6:35 PM

frugal_fun said:

I'd say the first order of business is to stop using Pinterest as a data source. Amazon or Google is generally is safer. ;)

Also, I've tried time tracking in so many ways with the 'Net. I've only been able to really go cold turkey on most stuff, which includes Facebook. You may have to really actively manage it to keep the blogging going if that's an issue.

Plus what you really need is a "trick" to get started with work. Once you're started it's a not so hard moment. I've seen people also specifically produce (write) before they consume. If you haven't researched it or try it, try out the Pomodoro method. It's free and easy. :)

March 11, 2014 8:39 PM

Emily Guy Birken said:

@frugal_fun, I LOVE the Pomodoro method. I've done a modified method for years--FLYlady recommends setting a timer for 15 minutes to take care of dreaded tasks, and I always find that to be super helpful. My big issue is that I tend to think "Oh, I'll just check my email and then get to work..." which simply doesn't end well for me. (And even when I set a timer for my "email checking" I tend to ignore it when it goes off. What I really need is a timer with an impossible-to-ignore-super-annoying-klaxon-type-alarm.)

And you're absolutely right about Pinterest. What a beautiful, beautiful timesuck it is. (Although it really has helped me to find some awesome projects for myself, my Sunday school class, my cooking, my organization, the boys, etc.)

March 12, 2014 8:16 AM

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