Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

Where I spend my time, revisited

Back in March 2010 I wrote up a post that detailed where I spend my time over the span of a week.

It was pretty rough; I didn't account for a lot of the minutia in my life like walking the dogs or grocery shopping or blogging. Still, I wanted to see where I was spending my time from a high level and get a clearer idea how much time I spent writing, reading, and doing some of the other things I like to do like exercising (cycling, running, weights; sometimes more of one, sometimes less).

I'm revisiting this now because something is about to change in my life that is going to greatly affect my time in a good way. No, I'm not quitting my day job. But I am getting a new one. One that allows me to work at home 99.8% of the time. In other words, I should be able to reclaim the 10 hours/week I currently spend commuting. I say "should" because I'm fairly certain there's going to be an intense ramping up period with this job (from the moment I received the offer I've been boning up on the base technologies I think I need to have a firm grasp of from Day 1). However, once I get settled in and have adequately dazzled my new boss and co-workers, I'll slow it down a bit and work a more normal 40-45 hour work week. That's when things get interesting from a writing perspective.

The numbers in that older post aren't entirely accurate anymore. Below is a more current breakdown based on today.

Day Job 40 24%
Commuting 10 6%
Exercise 10 6%
Writing 14 8%
Reading 8 5%
Fun Time 21.5 13%
Outside work 12 7%
Consulting 0 0%
Sleep 52.5 31%
TOTAL 168 100%

Here's where I expect my hours to fall once the initial "breaking in" period is over:

Day Job 45 27%
Commuting 0 0%
Exercise 10 6%
Writing 25 15%
Reading 9 5%
Fun Time 14.5 9%
Outside work 12 7%
Consulting 0 0%
Sleep 52.5 31%
TOTAL 168 100%

This is pretty rough. I don't, for example, count the time spent driving to and from bike trails since I'll be heading out occasionally to meet the wife for some single-track fun. Also, I lumped things like grocery shopping into 'Fun Time', because isn't grocery shopping and running other errands fun?

Consulting work has already gone to '0'. I quit doing that a while back.

Commuting time will go to '0' with only the occasional trip into the office. How 'occasional' remains to be seen, but I know the person I'll be working for from a previous position so I know when he says, "I don't care where you work", I know he means it. Also, the work-at-home arrangement is a company policy, not something I set up because I know the person. I consider it rock-solid.

I expect writing time to increase by around 11 hours to 25 hours/week. That doesn't seem like a lot, but considering I work a 'regular' job I think that's pretty darn good. 25 hours/week in terms of hours anyway is a legitimate part-time job. Too bad the pay is so crappy. :-(

All in all, I'm extremely excited about this new position. It's going to eliminate my the wasted time and frustration of a daily commute, the work is going to be intense but interesting, and, best of all, I'll have more time to spend writing.

How do you spend your time?

clock I was driving home last night contemplating my schedule, where and how I spend my time, and, most importantly, where it all goes. That got me thinking… while I know how and where I spend my time in a general sense, I was curious as to how much time in any given week I devote to the major items in my life. Who knows? Maybe by analyzing this I might be able to make some adjustments and improve my overall time management.

For me, major items include:

  1. Work (my primary, day-time job)
  2. Going to/from work (4 days/week since I usually work at home at least 1 day/week)
  3. Exercise (cycling, running, weight-lifting; this goes up in the warmer months as I'm out on the bike more)
  4. Writing (my current novel, short stories, this blog)
  5. Reading (books, blogs, etc.)
  6. Breaks (TV watching, playing with the dogs, hanging out with my wife; everyone needs some down time)
  7. Outside work (mowing the lawn, etc.; less now but more as it gets warmer)
  8. Personal Technical Projects (various side projects I work on to stay up on programming and technology)
  9. Sleep (almost forgot this one…)

I'm not going to include some things, like listening to podcasts, which I do all the time but which I always do whilst engaged in something else. Which brings up another point: I don't consider the time I spend driving to and from work as wasted because I'm always listening to podcasts or sometimes audio fiction. I'm a fanatic about maximizing every minute.

Given the above items, here's how much time I spend on each per week (my first attempt at this I was 5 hours short; since I'm not working off a super-accurate log here, I just spread those hours out to get to 168):

Work 45 27%
Commuting 8 5%
Exercise 8 5%
Writing 16 10%
Reading 18 11%
Breaks 10 6%
Outside work 6 4%
Technical Projects 8 5%
Sleep 49 29%
TOTAL 168 100%

And, in pie chart format:


Some of these items are immovable: work, sleep (I only get 7 hours/night as it is), commuting. Others could be changed, such as exercise or reading (sometimes I think I spend too much reading blogs). Breaks… I'd have to take a closer look at what I do in those 14 hours. Writing and Technical Projects… if anything, I want to spend more time, not less, in those areas.

Of course, this is a somewhat rough idea where I spend my time as some of the figures are pure estimates. If I wanted to really perform a close analysis I should probably carry a small notepad around with me for a week and write down each activity and time spent on it. Maybe I'll do that at some point, but for now I just wanted to get a general sense where all the time is going.

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