Budgeting hours and minutes

I do not lead the kind of life where I should be short of free time. My work is part-time, I set my own hours, I don’t have kids, and as an introvert I don’t do much socialising even when there’s no pandemic on. I do run and blog and do a vague series of tasks (mostly accounting and logging) that I call ‘admin’ every day, but none by themselves have ever felt like they take up too much time. So where has it all been going?

In order to answer this question, last week I did what the TOMM website’s TOTT (The Organised Time Technique) book calls a ‘bootcamp’ and logged what I was doing every minute of every day for the whole week. I was expecting to find lots of periods of time lost to aimless social media scrolling and web browsing. However, while the latter did indeed account for an alarming amount of my time, I was surprised to find that I was already fairly strict about limiting the former to once a day. Although that ‘once a day’ was still taking up too much time!

In response to my findings, this week I’ve instigated a daily schedule that tells me what I need to be doing at all times. For the first half of the day, it’s very strict – this enables me to get all my daily stuff done and out of the way. Most of the afternoon is a bit freer, allowing me to work on the projects I choose (or day job work that comes in), and then I have the evenings free to relax. The main problem for me in recent years is that my to-do list takes up the whole day including the evening, and so I’m not getting any downtime. This is a good way of guarding against that – it does mean that my day is a lot less flexible, but I think I’ll get used to that. It does also feel a bit like ‘scheduled fun’, but scheduled fun is better than no fun at all because I’ve let the to-do list take over my whole day!

My new schedule also halves my social media time and eliminates random browsing from the ‘work’ part of the day. These things are huge time sinks, and I know a lot of people struggle with them these days. Social media in particular is very prone to making me feel worse about my own life (and guilty about not adding three hundred additional things per day to my already-crowded to-do list), so I really am better off minimising my time spent there.

I’ve only been doing the new schedule for a few days but I already feel so much better and more relaxed and in control!

So, what have I been using my newfound free evenings for? Well, at the moment it’s videogames (of course), but the important thing is having them free so I can unwind. In the future I might listen to music or watch favourite TV series… the world is my oyster!

Not much in the way of home improvement going on this week, but I’ve really settled into the groove of daily cleaning, especially now I’ve got the new schedule to keep it manageable.

Now for a lot of strictly-scheduled-in downtime over the weekend!

Fireplace
This fireplace needs fixing as it’s not putting out nearly as much heat as it once did, but at least it looks nice.

This week’s earworm playlists:

Saturday

Traditional – ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’
Duran Duran – ‘Save A Prayer’
Lindisfarne – ‘Lady Eleanor’
Men Without Hats – ‘Safety Dance’

Sunday

Audrey Hepburn – ‘Moon River’

Monday

Nintendo 3DS eShop – ‘Main Theme’
George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin – ‘I Got Rhythm’
Audrey Hepburn – ‘Moon River’
Peter Hames – ‘Ordinary Man’
The Boomtown Rats – ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’

Tuesday

Joe Hisaishi – ‘Kokoro No Kakera’
LunchMoney Lewis – ‘Bills’
Peter Hames – ‘Ordinary Man’

Wednesday

Audrey Hepburn – ‘Moon River’
Christina Aguilera and Redman – ‘Dirrty’

Thursday

The Marcels – ‘Blue Moon’
Mark Ronson and Lykke Li – ‘Late Night Feelings’
Spandau Ballet – ‘Gold’
Duran Duran – ‘Five Years’

Plus a bonus track that Geth was humming that day:

3 Daft Monkeys – ‘Paranoid Big Brother’

Friday

Duran Duran – ‘Five Years’
Nintendo 3DS eShop – ‘Main Theme’
Abba – ‘One Of Us’

Batteries gone flat

I managed a run and a drive to the post office to post presents and cards today… but that was about it! From about mid-afternoon I just didn’t have any mental or physical energy left, which I think is the last few weeks catching up with me. I’m going to have a really quiet evening with music and TV and hope that I’ll be back to normal tomorrow.

A couple of (very slightly!) longer runs planned for the weekend, but other than that I’ll just be working on my game. I hope!

Back for an update again on Monday.

Christmas jumper
Last year’s Christmas jumper, which will be back in the rotation soon.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Duran Duran – ‘Girls On Film’

Let’s escape

A mile again today…

…which was for the best as I didn’t get much sleep last night.

I’m an absolute bag of nerves regarding the US election results, so I’m just going to escape into my 3DS for the rest of the day!

3DS
Hello old friend!

Today’s earworm playlist:

Bananarama – ‘Really Saying Something’
Ludwig Göransson – ‘The Mandalorian [Main Theme]’
Glenn Miller – ‘In The Mood’
Sheena Easton – ‘9 To 5 (Morning Train)’
Duran Duran – ‘The Edge Of America’
Aaron Carter – ‘Crush On You’
Simon & Garfunkel – ‘The Sound Of Silence’

Taking a day off

Rest day mile today…

…and I’m now taking the rest of the day off to read, watch Hallowe’en TV, and play videogames, which is a Monday habit I’ve wanted to get back into for a while.

The extra hour gained over the weekend has helped a bit with sleep, but not much. I think I just have to accept that I need a bit of extra sleep right now and schedule things accordingly.

Back to work tomorrow.

Clothes
Just some of the dresses I’ll be selling online soon. I need to get them all photographed this week.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Ozzy Osbourne – ‘Shot In The Dark’
Glenn Miller – ‘In The Mood’
Sia – ‘The Greatest’
Sheena Easton – ‘9 To 5 (Morning Train)’

A grey Monday

A tiring mile in the strong breeze today…

…which I’m going to take as a sign I worked hard on my running over the weekend. Hopefully I’ll have recovered a bit of energy by tomorrow’s interval session!

I’m struggling quite a lot with anxiety today. I think I’m just getting a bit worn down by all the small stresses of the last few weeks and months. I need to find some forms of escapism, possibly via getting back to my writing and videogaming again. Geth is playing a tabletop RPG online with friends this evening so doing some of my own gaming might be a good idea.

I’m waiting for work to come in at the moment so I think my non-running activities this week will mainly be admin, house sorting, and trying not to worry about stuff.

Hallowe'en tealight holder
Now that it’s dark by 6pm, the tealight holders are seeing a lot of use.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Ultra Naté – ‘Free’
Cast of The Greatest Showman – ‘The Greatest Show’

Recovering slowly

Just a mile for my run this morning…

…though I then ended up walking six miles trying to find a shop that would repair my phone screen! Going to try and take it a bit easier the rest of the week.

(I’ve also added my big long video about my challenge to yesterday’s blog if you’ve not seen it already!)

I’m still not feeling 100% – I can’t concentrate and feel pretty fatigued in general – so I think I need a few more days of catching up with sleep. Hoping to be back to normal by the weekend.

One more walk tomorrow to pick up my repaired phone, and then I think I’ll finally be able to settle down and get some rest!

Autumn tree
A lovely autumn tree from my walk today.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Nick Heyward – ‘Take That Situation’
Foo Fighters – ‘Times Like These’

The other side

I’ve done a long video about yesterday’s running challenge…

(though you’ll have to wait till tomorrow for the video, as it’s soooo long it’s taking forever to upload to YouTube!)

(UPDATE: here it is!)

…and I honestly didn’t expect to feel quite so flat today. The whole thing was incredibly intense and I think it’s going to take me a good few days to recover both physically and mentally. I’ll blog about it once I’ve had some time to reflect, in about a week or so.

I expected I’d sleep all day today but I was awake at 7:45am – probably for the best as some urgent day job work had come in, and I was able to get it done nice and quickly. I didn’t intend to do my daily run until the evening as I thought my legs would be too sore, but by mid-afternoon I was climbing the walls and just wanted to get out there. My legs complained a lot, but surprisingly I managed my usual pace, pretty much. I had to find a new mile-ish route as I couldn’t face the usual one after doing it 24 times yesterday!

Tomorrow I’m heading to Timpsons first thing, as a slight bit of misadventure during the 24-hour challenge meant that my phone screen got smashed and I need to get it fixed. Other than that, I think I’m just going to try and enjoy some free time, as it looks like I might actually have some this week!

Pre-marathon
A picture from just before the challenge started, when I was still marginally sane.

Today’s earworm playlist:

U2 – ‘Elevation’
Idina Menzel – ‘Into The Unknown’

A lighter day… sort of

Just a mile today…

…and then a short walk. It felt like a much lighter day exercise-wise than I’ve been doing recently! As such, I feel like I’ve got a bit of energy to get rid of, but that is best saved for the virtual race on Sunday.

I spent most of today working – I’ve had a lot of day job work this week, which is great and is keeping me from obsessing about the race too much. I also did a quick clean of my car, which I’d been putting off for months. I managed to get some of the glitter off the backseat from last year’s Christmas wrapping paper, but not all – I think it will always be glittery to some extent!

One last day of work tomorrow, and then I’ll be able to enjoy the weekend – last weekend was really busy with work and I haven’t managed to take a day off during the week, so I’m really looking forward to it!

Car bumper sticker
This bumper sticker arrived this week, so other drivers will now be able to… tell what running club I’m in 😀

Today’s earworm playlist:

Vangelis – ‘Chariots Of Fire’

A good day to stay indoors

A mile in the pouring rain this morning…

…and then I immediately went straight back out to get my walk done for my online game so that I wouldn’t have to go out again after my shower. I’m really appreciating being inside in the warmth this afternoon!

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m taking my day off today, so I’m just getting a bit of daily admin done and then will be videogaming for the rest of the day.

Pasta al forno
Pasta al forno, ready to go in the oven tonight. Perfect comfort food for a cold wet day – I foresee making a lot of this over the autumn.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes – ‘(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life’
Sacre – ‘The London Marathon’

Winding down!

An attempt at a slow mile this morning…

…because the last week has been a bit speedier than usual running-wise. I think it’s partly been the adrenaline generated by Thursday’s announcement about the London Marathon. I’m very excited about my training for my replacement October challenge and beyond, and have now also signed up to the Virtual Great North Run in order to provide me with a mid-training focus. However, I do need to make extra sure now that my mile runs are strictly recovery pace, hence my deliberate slow speed today.

It’s Monday, so I’m taking the rest of the day off. Back to it tomorrow!

Bridges of the Tyne
Bridges of the Tyne in central Newcastle during our walk on Friday. It was overcast but very muggy.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Pulp – ‘Disco 2000’