Time Allocation for Reading, Writing, Work, Life, and Sleep?

The number of very productive and helpful blogs on the Biblioblogs list causes me to wonder: How do they do it?

First of all, it is nearly impossible for me to keep up with reading all the posts I want to (not to mention the rabbit trails they lead to). Many of them are well researched and notated, how do the authors find the time to be so productive online? What about teaching or other jobs? I look at my own set of circumstances and sometimes feel overwhelmed or frustrated at my attempts to work on various projects. I want to know how some of you manage your schedules and how you prioritize.

Here’s my situation:

  • I work 20 hours a week. Occasionally during that time I can be online, but mostly not.
  • I want to swim/bicycle/run several times a week. Exercise is a priority and I am trying very hard for it to not be crowded out (as has been easy to do in the past).
  • I am married and have extended family very nearby. This means that there are things we do together that add events into my schedule. I am very grateful for family time and even for the opportunity to teach several of my young grandchildren Hebrew starting in August.
  • We own a house. My deck is currently in pieces waiting for me to finish putting it back together. There is a garden to tend. My husband helps with household tasks, but the bulk of that responsibility is on my plate (for various reasons).
  • I have a dissertation to finish!
  • I have several other writing projects. These include some reviews I am writing, three papers for presentations in the fall, and research/analysis/writing for a section in a book.
  • Reading, reading, reading. This is not a chore, but finding the time to do it sometimes is.
  • I have a blog (obviously). My list of draft posts is rapidly growing, while my list of published posts grows slower than I desire.
  • Sleep and rest. I’m convinced that 8 hours of sleep is physiologically (and mentally) best, but how to fit it in seems to elude me.
  • Working on Hebrew.

I also like to bake bread, make tofu, and cook. Add to that Church, visiting friends, hiking, and things like shopping at the Durham Farmers’ Market and you start to see that my list of “priorities” greatly exceeds the amount of daily time I have.

OK, so how do you use your time? How much do you sleep? When do you read (and how much)? I want to hear from people like John Hobbins, Mike Aubrey, Jim West, Ros Clarke, and Daniel & Tonya (to name just a few). Be practical. I need to learn from you!

10 thoughts on “Time Allocation for Reading, Writing, Work, Life, and Sleep?

  1. J. R. Daniel Kirk

    My 2 cents: I try to prioritize the things that have no deadline and won’t get done otherwise. So on an ideal day I spend 2 hours in the morning on my research and writing projects. That doesn’t happen every day, but it’s my goal. My blogging is usually an overflow of what I’m researching and teaching. My blog is where I keep my notes for future projects. Sometimes my blog alerts me to what I’m sufficiently passionate about to try to write a whole book on.

    I don’t work after dinner on most occasions. However, I do travel out of town about once a month during the school year and I try to maximize work on those nights away.

  2. Ben

    Make sure you are comparing apples and apples. I don’t know too many people that have that much on their plate: 20 hours work AND dissertation AND writing projects AND stay in shape AND be a great family member AND . . .

  3. art

    There are a couple of tools that help me prioritize my life.

    Things, which is a Mac GTD program that also has an iPhone app that syncs with the desktop version, is indispensable for me. I have daily tasks (journal, devotions, Hebrew translation, Greek translation, Aramaic translation, and Ugaritic vocabulary study), as well as projects (writing, wedding, and classes). I schedule all my work so that a project will be spread over a certain amount of time in smaller chunks. This allows me to both finish projects on time as well as not fall behind and have to rush to finish a project.

    Instapaper and Google Reader both help me keep up to date witht he blogs that I read. I usually only read the titles and if it is something I am interested in reading I will either star in in Google Reader or add it to Instapaper to read later. I schedule an hour early on Saturday mornings (in Things) to read posts for the week that caught my eye.

    As for prioritizing, I put my course work first, my academic writing and projects second, and blogging last. My blog posts usually take under 20 minutes to write because they flow out of my course work or my writing projects. If I don’t have anything to write on my blog, I never worry about it. I’d rather go three weeks without writing anything than wasting an hour of research time to try to come up with a thoughtful post.

    I’ve tried to focus my reading to books and articles that are central to what I want to focus on in my graduate studies. Right now that is a bit broad, but it’s slowly getting more focused. Right now I am reading a lot on Israelite historiography, the DH, and the reception history of the Hebrew Psalter. I’m sure that will become even more narrow in the near future and I’ll have to narrow my reading selections again.

    I always schedule Saturday as being my ‘no academic work’ day so that I can spend time with my fiancee. I’m sure we will have a ‘date night’ scheduled after we get married. When I spend time with her I make sure that it is always quality time, not just staring at a TV or movie screen. We take walks, go jogging, play basketball, go to a coffee shop, etc.

    I also run everyday, usually in the afternoon, although I’d like to start running in the morning. When I do it in the afternoon (around 3.00 or 4.00) I find that I am more energized to do more work in the evening.

    I’m not sure if any of that helped…but that was just a little glimpse into how I try to manage my time to get things done (and I took an exception and read this post on a Wednesday!).

  4. Ros

    Karyn, you really, really have nothing to learn from me about time management. I currently have on my plate:

    20 hours/week work (due to fall to 13 in September)
    The dissertation
    One paper to (re)write for November

    And that’s basically it. I spend way too much time faffing about on the internet; I also spend quite a lot of time making stuff or writing/reading for fun or cooking. I go to church but at the moment don’t have any other time commitments there. So there’s no actual reason why I shouldn’t be making good progress on the dissertation. But I can assure you I’m not.

    With respect to the blogging, I mainly write posts when I think of them. If I’m reading something interesting, or thinking about something for the dissertation, or because it came up in conversation or whatever, I’ll take a couple of minutes to blog about it straight away, otherwise I know I’ll never do it. That’s one reason why I rarely do posts of collected links, though I love it when other people take the time to do them.

  5. Angela

    Thanks, Karyn for sharing your thoughts and struggles. The question resonates with me too. I truly want to do it all and I think if I could just manage my time or find that balance… Then I pray: Lord, teach me to number my days, that I may gain a heart of wisdom. (Ps. 90:12).
    Thanks, Ben for additional ideas.

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