I know I promised a newsletter this week on food, but I need to postpone it one more week. I’m short on time again today—exams, yeesh. (But also spending time with friends to stay balanced, yay!)
Exam season is unique. The unstructured stretch of time excites me: I have total control over my days! I can do so much! But it also drags on me: I very quickly struggle to motivate myself. Fortunately, I’ve hit on a strategy that helps to keep me going.
As a freelancer, I used to bill by the hour. This required tracking my time quite closely. A few years in, I stopped billing by the hour (it’s nuts!). I didn’t stop tracking my time, though. I liked to be able to calculate my effective hourly rate, to make sure I wasn’t undercharging for my services.
At the start of this year, I expanded my tracking. In addition to client work, I now also track my school work and my domestic work.
Examples of school work:
Examples of domestic work:
All of these activities are essential to my life. School is a full-time job (I have the hourly figures to prove it!) and domestic work is important, too. Without groceries, laundry, and cleaning, I wouldn’t be able to do my other work. (I described my rationale for including domestic work in a Twitter thread the other week.)
This may seem a bit obsessive or overly strenuous, but I assure you it’s useful for me. Tracking all these activities keeps me motivated. I feel rewarded when, after completing some work, I can enter some hours into my time-tracking system. It’s also rewarding to look back on a past week and get a feel for how productive I was and how that activity broke down. When I’m feeling anxious about not having done enough, I can check in with my hours worked and assure myself that taking some time off is nothing to worry about.
In the long term, this tracking is useful in other ways, too. I can calculate how much time I put into different categories of courses (e.g. history vs political science vs French grammar) and estimate how busy I’ll be with courses during a future term. That estimate will always be rough, of course, but it allows me some preview of how busy I might be, how many other activities I might fit in.
How do you stay motivated to work? Do you have strategies similar to this? I’ve got to go update my hours for the day (hehe) before doing some more studying, but I’d love to hear from you.
All the best for the week ahead!
Sent on April 22nd, 2018.