Sep 24, 2010

Your Time is your Life

I need your help. A little over two years into this self-re-creation gambit, it's time to see if it's working. And being the man I am, I'm creating an Excel spreadsheet.

This new life is one of intentionality and integrity. It's simplicity in its truest and most complex form - striving to have all our energies invested in things that matter and reflect our faith. So what I'm proposing to do is to measure how I use my time, then see how it maps onto or creates the image of the new Me.

We've done this before with money - followed Your Money or Your Life and charted every penny spent into a myriad of columns. When it came time to review the data, we not only found places to cut back, but places to add on. Gardening, for example, was something that meant a lot to Sarah (not to me at the time), so why was so little of our life energy (as measured by money) being allotted to that passion?

Time should be even more central to this intentional living. If I find that I'm spending more hours cleaning the house than caring for my kids, that would indicate a failure to live up to my vision of how to balance responsibilities; my vision of what's most important (note the singular pronoun :)

So, where I need help is deciding on the columns. There should be enough to provide a useful analysis, but not so many that I spend more time tracking than living. For example, I originally divided "Housework" into meals, laundry, dishes, and cleaning, but now have it all as one column - it might be useful fodder during a marital spat, but not important for figuring out if I use my time according to my values.

Here's the first draft, divided up into my different roles (feel free to add to or alter those also):

1. Dad - a. logistics (school drop-off, playdates) b. quality time (play, homework, snuggles, work together...), c. School involvement

2. Homemaker - a. house repair/projects, b. farm, c. housework, d. logistics

3. Professional - a. FreeRange Consulting

4. Friend - a. Social (time with friends, facebook, wife time...)

5. Individual (need a more consistent label for this) - a. Writing, b. Rick (self-care, exercise, naps, music, hammock, art...)

6. Misc

I'll also have to figure out how to record cross-over activities, which in this life have blissfully increased. Gardening with the boys, yoga with a friend, volunteering on a school committee with wonderful other adults. Should packing lunches go under Kids logistics or housework? Is building a basement bedroom a house repair, an income-generator, social (to have more people in our lives), or mostly a "Rick" indulgence?

Much to play with, and any clarity you can help provide about whether or not I've drafted a useful breakdown of life would be most appreciated.


  1. I think I'd ditch the Excel spreadsheet and go with something that more easily accommodates the artful nature of your life, Rick. You are not living in rows and columns, thanks be to God. I picture a page with overlapping circles-- a circle for each of the categories you've identified already, overlapping with the "cross-over" activities you've also developed in your routines. It might be enlightening and encouraging to see how much overlap there is, and inspiring to see how you might nurture their "blissful increase." Draw circles of a size commensurate with how much time you devote to the activity in question.
    As for how to label the "individual" activities-- I'll dare to suggest that you add "writing" as its own category. (Is it not a calling on par with your profession? Is it not as much a part of you as your identity as a father?) Add another for solo time, for those things you do exclusively by yourself. The whole artful kaleidescope of circles (pleeeeease use colour with this!) IS you, the remarkable individual that is Rick Juliusson.
    Also, isn't "quality time" (now a subcategory of "Dad") a descriptor of something that would/could infuse EVERY category?

  2. Whoa! How come I don’t see the ‘Husband’ category?

  3. Make time alone with Sarah a separate category, however you decide to do this! :)

  4. Just have fun with the spreadsheet, why not? but Feeeel whether it all works. :)

  5. I like Sandra's suggestion a whole lot... I think I might just do it myself! Also, if you're anything like me (though I know you're not), I don't see how you can put cleaning and dishes and cooking in the same category... do they all give you equal pleasure and personal reward? If so, we truly are not alike.