Author Topic: Where/how to find more time  (Read 2721 times)

jo552006

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Where/how to find more time
« on: March 12, 2020, 05:06:46 PM »
I have a time problem, or at least I *think* I do.  How do other people "find the time" to get everything done that they have to?

I don't have time to do all the things I have to do.  When post fire people ask "How did I find the time to do X, Y or Z while working" I generally assume that they didn't.  I figure that like myself they slipped slightly further behind daily like I do.

DW and myself both work full time.  We have a young one at home and another on the way, but even prior to having kids the lack of time seemed obvious to me.  DW and I are avid DIYers, which is some of our problem.  I try not to pay people for things that I can do myself, and I can do damn near everything myself.

I'll admit, I'm probably slower than a plumber/mechanic/electrician at doing things, but I also don't pay $100/hour for services provided by these professionals.

DW and I are not perfect at time management, I'll readily admit that, but the difference between time I think I would need vs. time I'm wasting is overwhelming and honestly doing nothing but chores/work 98% of the time I don't think is healthy either.

I can't stop looking at my job and thinking how without this ONE THING in our lives everything would be better.  DW and I do NOT both have to work, and we will still reach FIRE.  However, I know I would be resentful if she wanted to leave work much before our planned FIRE date, which is why I would like to find other methods of increasing time.  (For those wondering, I'd be resentful 1/4 due to pure jealousy, 3/8 due to being resentful my fire date moved out and 3/8 resentful that I can do 95% of the household chores/projects, and she can only do 50%* of them just due to physical abilities and skillsets.  This means that if she were to leave work early, my life wouldn't change much as I'd still need to do most of the things that take up my non-working hours, but her life gets TONS better with more quality time with family/friends and hobbies, while if I leave early I *think* BOTH our lives get better.)  At this point, we are not considering leaving jobs to find time.

The only reliable method I've thought up is sleeping less but I'm already a horrible morning person and multiple days of <6 hours ends with me just sleeping in other times.  Occasionally I'll stay up all night working on this or that.  Honestly, if lack of sleep wasn't so damn unhealthy that'd be my solution, to stay up every Friday night and gain an honest 8 hours back. (Ironically NOT sleeping is WAY easier for me than getting up, even on a good night's sleep)  The extra 8 consecutive hours alone would help a lot.

Currently, when things finally come to a point where we I can't let them slip any further behind, I usually spend a weekend ignoring my family doing nothing but projects/chores and ending the weekend feeling like shit that I have to go back to work tomorrow.  Even when we do that weekend after weekend we slip further behind.  If all we had to do was maintain the status quo, things wouldn't be too bad.  Bills, dishes, shopping, cooking, laundry, we'd keep up but just barely and our child would not receive the attention they deserve at this point in their life.  As it stands, there are numerous projects big and small in addition to the status quo, and we DO make a point to spend time with family.  I'm beginning to worry from a health perspective as DW and I both are far less healthy than we have been in recent past due to lack of time to exercise and cook healthy meals.  I already don't spend as much time with my child as I'd like.

*Just to head this off.  My wife is no less capable than me.  She is smart and bright and can learn to do anything she puts her mind to.  HOWEVER, she hasn't spent the entirety of her life cultivating the skills to do a brake job, oil change, wire overhead lights, and plumb in a new RO system for our drinking water.  She also has no time (or want) to learn most of these things in the near future, and a bad back which would literally prevent her from say lifting tires.

jo552006

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Re: Where/how to find more time
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2020, 05:15:17 PM »
Some other notes:
DW does not want to downsize house and neither do I really, even though it is probably the ideal solution.  We want our children raised here.

We both have hobbies we'd like to do, but have no time for.  My hobbies include large projects (cars/tractors, but those haven't been touched in years and aren't doing anything except waiting for me to have time)  I COULD get rid of these types of projects, but that doesn't free up any time because I spend no time working on them.  It also feels like a punishment... too many projects > give up any hobby projects so your project list shrinks.  All the projects I am referring to not having time for are things like working on our water system (installing whole house UV and smaller RO system for drinking.  Ideally shock clorinating our well also.

We could pay people to do work for us.  I'm against that as a Mustachian, but even if I weren't what items do you outsource?  I can do a $300 brake job in literally 2 hours.  My lawn is so horrendously bumpy that if I wanted somebody else to mow they couldn't use my equipment or they'd probably break it. 

fell-like-rain

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Re: Where/how to find more time
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2020, 05:41:05 PM »
Itís hard to answer this without more details about what you spend your time doing- itís like someone saying ďhow to save more money?Ē and not saying anything about how much they spend. Have you considered writing down what you spend time on in an average week? That might make the solutions more clear, i.e. if youíre spending 1.5 hours a night cooking or doing a 30 minute grocery run four times a week or you have a 2 hour round trip commute, itís pretty easy to see where to make a change.

jo552006

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Re: Where/how to find more time
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2020, 06:16:40 PM »
Well, to start we sleep 10-6:30, and wake up once for diaper/bottle with toddler.  Mornings are getting ready for work and daycare.

Mom goes to work for 8am, and child goes to daycare around similar time.

8-10:30 IS productive time.  HOWEVER, that usually centers around dishes/bills/general things that have to get done, packing up myself for work.

11-7:30 is work

8:00 is home from work, make my dinner (generally mom & child have eaten) eat dinner and 1 hour of TV.  (I hate TV, but with another baby on the way at this point in the day feet up and zone out are much needed for mom)

10pm bed

Rinse and repeat M-F

Weekends are great.  I absolutely love them because of the fairly unstructured time that things can be done in.  This is where I balance family and chores/projects.  I try to go with 50/50 family/chores, but it's often more like 20/80.  If I REALLY have something to hammer out I basically don't see my child.  I *think* DW feels like productivity isn't the issue on weekends, but perhaps not enough family/quality time.

*note that we work different schedules.  This could change, but for first year of new baby's life grandparents will help watch baby and 8+ hours is too much.  With this schedule retired grandparents only watch child 10:30 - 5:00

I'd like to point out that this schedule works GREAT, but doesn't include healthy meals (maybe our healthy meals should be quicker/easier?) or exercise.  It also doesn't actually keep up as written.  Stuff that slips behind is: everything if there's a snowstorm, lawn/landscaping, projects, and everything when we have another family birthday to attend.  We LIKE going to family parties.

Bernard

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Re: Where/how to find more time
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2020, 06:19:32 PM »
I have a time problem, or at least I *think* I do.  How do other people "find the time" to get everything done that they have to?

Your post rang a bell with me.
When my wife of 14 years was young, and her daughter was 3 years old, her husband died at the age of 36 surprisingly of cancer. She was a single mom, made about $2K a month, and had to get up early, feed the daughter, herself, then drive her to school, then go to work. Her boss allowed her to pick up her daughter during her lunch break, so she ate while driving, dropping off her daughter at ballet school, then going back to work. After work she picked up her daughter from ballet, drove home, made dinner, helped her with the homework, often contributed to school projects, posters, costumes, etc, as she tells me sometimes 'til after midnight, then went to bed and got up at 5:00 again the next morning. I don't know how she did this for 10 years, and neither does she.

I'm now 62, she's 57. We get up at 5:00 in the morning, and when she gets home from work around 5:30 (unless she goes grocery shopping), she sits on the couch to take a break and often falls asleep. We have a home that is somewhat of a fixer-upper, so about every weekend we are slaving away, renovating. At the end of the day, we are beat. There's always something to do, and there's no way of catching up, ever. Worse, somewhat sleep deprived and exhausted, productivity goes south, so that's a catch 22.

You are not alone . . .

NotJen

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Re: Where/how to find more time
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2020, 09:18:52 PM »
Don't cut sleep, that's not the solution.

Think hard about your priorities.  Know the choices you are making and honestly evaluate them.  Sometimes it is worth paying money to have someone do a low-priority task so that you can do a high-priority one.  Time is worth something.

Simplify as much as possible.

Lower your standards?

Form habits - perhaps find the time to read "The Power of Habit" - it's so great when doing the "right" thing is easy because you've made it a habit!

If you want to get more exercise in your life - prioritize it, and make it count double as family time.  Go for long walks, get into hiking, coach a sport for your kid, etc.  Maybe find some kind of exercise routine you and your wife can do while you watch TV?  Easy enough to do push-ups, squats, jumping jacks, etc.  Perhaps modified while she's pregnant, but I'm sure there are lots of great ideas on the internet.

Healthy food isn't super hard, but you have to get into the habit of meal planning.  Once you do that, it can be pretty easy.  But it does take a lot of mental energy to make that change.  It seems like you have time in the morning to prep food for dinner - put something in the crock pot so it's ready when your wife eats dinner, or chop veggies so you just have to throw them in a pot or the oven when you get home.  Why doesn't your wife make dinner for you when she makes dinner for herself (at least sometimes)?  Batch cook together on weekends as family time?  Having everyone prepare separate meals on weekdays seems like a huge waste of time.

How much time are you spending on car maintenance?  Can you cut down on the number of cars you own?  Or 'upgrade' to a car that doesn't need as much maintenance?  It seems like doing a brake job yourself makes good financial sense, but realistically, how often do you have to do that?   Aside from an oil change twice a year, tires every 3-4 years, and whatever recall-of-the-moment is happening, my car doesn't require extra attention, so I'm not familiar with car maintenance taking a ton of time.

Same idea with the house, though you preemptively said you're not willing to change that.  But you can simplify landscaping so yardwork doesn't take a long time if you don't want it to.  You can also practice minimalism inside the house so there is less work there, too.

Cranky

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Re: Where/how to find more time
« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2020, 09:52:56 PM »
I agree that you need to prioritize. You canít do everything. What DIY do you enjoy? What is a good return on the time and effort? What do you want to do that you donít have time for?

I really like puttering around the house and cooking, so those were always high on my list of things to spend time on. I really donít care about hair and makeup, so Iíve never spent time on those. Everyoneís list is different.

Zikoris

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Re: Where/how to find more time
« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2020, 10:11:56 PM »
You've committed yourself to some pretty big time-sucks, which means you're probably looking at either just giving up on free time to do the things you want, or making BIG changes.  Think about the money equivalent - a person ties themselves down to an expensive home, fancy car, etc, but then finds they don't have money left to do the things they actually want to do. That's basically where you're at with time.

I'm a person who values my non-working time immensely, and I prefer to spend as little time possible doing boring or unpleasant things. Here are some of the key things I do to maximize my downtime:

I get out of bed at 7:36 and am out the door for work at 8:09. That's basically just shower, eat, dress, go. No makeup or fucking around with my hair. Same breakfast every day. Capsule wardrobe. I can practically do my morning routine in my sleep.

I walk to and from work in about 15-20 minutes. This is not coincidental. I have always chose to either move close to work, or find a job close to home, but I simply will not commute.

I churn out all the cooking over the weekend in bulk, so on a daily basis I do nothing more than heat up lunch and dinner. This also means I never have to think about food during the week, in addition to not having to make it, which is great.

My housework is about 15 minutes a day, because I chose a home based on minimizing housework - small, very minimalist, and a rental, so someone else can do the grunt work of maintaining it and fixing things. We also have no car, so another thing to never have problems with.

Automation is awesome. Why on earth is bill paying a thing you're spending time on? Automate your finances and move on with your life.

Television is boring so I don't bother having it.

The result of all that is about five hours a day of free time to do whatever I want on weekdays, and considerably more on weekends.

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: Where/how to find more time
« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2020, 03:11:51 AM »
It sounds like you are spending your productive morning time on low energy/focus tasks. If you need to manually pay bills, can you set this up so you do it in front of the TV in the evening, if not automate. How many dishes can you do while you are making food?

Can you make a big pot of something on a Monday and eat it for a couple of evenings so all you need to do is microwave it while you see to the dishes? Could you alternate so that you cook for your evening meal,  Mom and child's dinner the next day and your dinner the next day; then Mom cooks for them and child, your dinner and themselves the next evening in one go so that you get more meals out of every cooking effort? Use the freezer if you dislike the monotony of eating the same thing. Slow cooker for lower effort food (if you put it on at 10, Mom and child can eat whenever their dinner time is and it'll still be warm when you get home).

If you have a list of what you need for work or pack a bag in the evening it may be quicker than spending your most productive morning time on it.

Moonwaves

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Re: Where/how to find more time
« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2020, 04:37:31 AM »
... which is why I would like to find other methods of increasing time. 
You can't is the simple answer to this. There are 24 hours in a day and you can't increase that. All you can do if prioritise what you spend your time doing. To be clear, I'm pretty certain everyone knows this but if you're still thinking of it as increasing time, you may not have really internalised the fact that you cannot do it all. I did a time management course years ago and this was the first thing they brought up - you can't make more time, you can only choose to do the things that matter most to you.

Two other things I learnt in that course that I still do from time to time:
1. Write your to-do list and then assign everything a letter, A, B, or C (urgent, not urgent, some day it'd be good to get this done). After that go through each letter and assign each task a number, this is the order in which you will do the tasks. A1 is first, A2 is second and so on.
2. The other really useful thing (to me) was to write out a list of each of the roles you have. So, you have a role as husband, father, son, brother?, worker, DIYer, house-owner, neighbour, member of x religion/orgaisation/club, etc., etc. etc. And then you need to decide what things you are doing to fulfill each role you have in your life. I find it helps me with deciding what's actually important to me.

The only reliable method I've thought up is sleeping less but I'm already a horrible morning person and multiple days of <6 hours ends with me just sleeping in other times.  Occasionally I'll stay up all night working on this or that.  Honestly, if lack of sleep wasn't so damn unhealthy that'd be my solution, to stay up every Friday night and gain an honest 8 hours back. (Ironically NOT sleeping is WAY easier for me than getting up, even on a good night's sleep)  The extra 8 consecutive hours alone would help a lot.
There is feeling groggy in the mornings because you haven't slept enough (big shock to my system about twenty years ago when I started getting migraines and had to give up caffeine and learn to actually sleep enough instead) and there are things like Delayed Circadian Sleep Phase Disorder. Might be worth doing some reading about that and/or checking your sleep hygiene in general and/or chatting to a doctor about it. But don't forget that you have a young kid and are about to have another baby. Sleep is just generally going to be a bit of an issue for you and your wife for another few years (I'm not a parent, but I hear that's how it goes :-) )

We could pay people to do work for us.  I'm against that as a Mustachian, but even if I weren't what items do you outsource?  I can do a $300 brake job in literally 2 hours.  My lawn is so horrendously bumpy that if I wanted somebody else to mow they couldn't use my equipment or they'd probably break it. 

That is not really what Mustachianism is about. It's more about optimising your life. That may mean doing things yourself because you can do a better job faster and for less money than paying someone else to do it. Or it may mean paying someone, accepting a good-enough-but-not-perfect standard so that you can enjoy time with your family. Or a middle-ground of finding someone to assist you in doing these DIY projects so that they don't take as long or some other solution.

I am a recent convert to the Organised Mum Method and really recommend it if you find you and your wife are spending a lot of time doing housework. I particularly like it because it leaves weekends free, with just the basics like making the bed, and emptying the dishwasher to do.

I think someone on here once said that when estimating time for DIY jobs you should take the number of how long you think it will take you to do it and multiply by three. Then take the unit of time you think it will be and increase it to the next level. So if you think it'll take you half an hour, plan for 1.5 days, or instead of 1 hour, it may be more realistic to plan 3 days. Instead of 4 days, it might actually take 12 weeks. And so on. It's a bit tongue in cheek but also not really all that far off sometimes.

Finally, you should try and plan a weekend very soon (like this weekend or next) where you do nothing. Leave all the projects lying, go for a walk or a swim or something with your family, hang out and read books, or just spend a couple of hours watching your kid play, chatting to your wife. Bonus if you make it a non-digital/non-screen time. Just take a breath. It can make a difference.

Apocalyptica602

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Re: Where/how to find more time
« Reply #10 on: March 13, 2020, 06:39:26 AM »
Lots of good advice here. My family is also 2 working parents, and we have a 18mo child.

One of the things that was shocking to my wife and I was the amount of time we spent staring at phones. Now you can do things on your phone while doing other things, she often plays a show on netflix while washing dishes, for example.

However, we installed an app that helps us track screentime and review it together weekly. I have a mobile phone game that I play, I feel like its pretty casual and I play it here and there. The data:10-20 hours a week. I was FLOORED.

I think people say they have absolutely no time left in the day but just like with mustachian finances, if you take a hard look you find things that most people take for granted.

mistymoney

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Re: Where/how to find more time
« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2020, 08:00:23 AM »

DW and myself both work full time.  We have a young one at home and another on the way, but even prior to having kids the lack of time seemed obvious to me.  DW and I are avid DIYers, which is some of our problem.  I try not to pay people for things that I can do myself, and I can do damn near everything myself.

I'll admit, I'm probably slower than a plumber/mechanic/electrician at doing things, but I also don't pay $100/hour for services provided by these professionals.


ok - you need to figure this out stat. As I think you know. Given everything you've said - I think outsourcing - perhaps on just a temporary basis - is something you can do that will help immediately.

One thing that I realized is that while a professional might indeed charge 100/hour - that sometimes that meant they did the job in 1-2 hours vs my 6-8. So - think about that. The time.

Also consider hourly rates. If you are good with doing the plumbing chores for example even though it might take you 3-4 hours to do a professionals 1 hour job, Think about renting out the mopping/toilet scrubbing, etc.

As you've shown - you and DW can do absolutely everything but I think you need to grapple with the fact that you while you are doing that
1- you seem pretty miserable
2- you are making choices that are negatively impacting your health in order to do so, and
3- you have another baby on the way - it is going to get worse long before it gets better. Sleep now while you have the chance!!

Progressive outsource tasks until you feel like you can at least relax and catch up on sleep on the weekends. The easiest and cheapest is likely to engage a weekly cleaner, and that can free you and DW up to do the tasks that would be more difficult/expensive to outsource. Do it for just a temporary time period and reassess after you feel like you are refreshed and have caught up sufficiently on sleep.




wellactually

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Re: Where/how to find more time
« Reply #12 on: March 13, 2020, 08:53:54 AM »
So after new baby comes, you will be watching the baby in the morning until grandparent can start watching them at 10:30? So you'll help get kids up and toddler ready and eat breakfast etc 6:30-8 when wife leaves for work and drops toddler at daycare. Then you'll have infant with you 8-10:30, trying to probably get a nap for baby in that time which you currently use for washing dishes and doing chores, then you'll work from 10:30-8pm and by the time you get home, wife will probably already be doing bedtime routine and getting baby down and may need your help with toddler. Then you'll have ~9-10pm unscheduled. Yeah, it's going to feel a lot worse soon.

I think you have two giant things contributing right now to this feeling: your stage of life (and that you decided to add another baby while feeling this way) and your decision to structure your work schedules this way. Baby is coming, so you probably need to address the second thing.

Do we outsource things to help? yes, absolutely. I'm due with my first next month and after maternity leave, that kiddo will be going to a daycare. That is outsourcing care. You've outsourced that care to grandparent, but while it might be saving you money or giving you some kind of peace of mind, it's adding stress on your schedule.

So yeah, you should probably do the dishes at night and automate bill paying or save it for Saturday morning, but your real problem is the schedule and it's only going to get worse after the new baby is here. There are several options for how to resolve your schedule problem.

-You could get traditional daycare for baby and both work 8-5 thus giving you more family time during the weeknights and the ability to work together to get chores done. (It's really hard to do laundry and get toddler food and breastfeed baby, but if both of you are home during that key time, you can be a lot more efficient together).

-One of you could be a stay at home parent. But first you'd have to work through any resentment issues. Being a stay at home parent is more effort than I probably use at my desk job, so resentment isn't really warranted IMO. There could be cost savings here to offset loss of salary and it could be temporary. If for some reason you don't want to do daycare for an infant, this sounds like a much better option to me than grandparent care with your current schedule.

-One of you could stay home part time. 3-5 hours a day at work with grandparent watching kiddos then 3-5 hours with kiddos. Still gets you more time with two parent care giving in the evening crunch time.

As for other outsourcing, I also love to do a good DIY home project. But sometimes you have to understand the true value of your time and the value of having the project done. I think you probably have the time right now to do the odd brake job or oil change. You're overwhelmed because of the daily stuff, not the odd job. Adding routines might help. Changing your schedule will help more.

Laura33

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Re: Where/how to find more time
« Reply #13 on: March 13, 2020, 10:45:18 AM »
You can't increase time.  All you can do is be absolutely ruthless about cutting back on the stuff that doesn't matter as much.  The reality is that you are in a sucky phase right now, and it's going to get worse.  Your goal for the next couple of years needs to be to get through it while keeping your sanity and maintaining a happy, healthy family.  That's it.

The analysis here is exactly the same as the financial version.  Your time is a fixed quantity.  That means that life is an "or," not an "and."  You, for example, have chosen two full-time jobs.  That by definition cuts back on free time.  You have chosen to live in a house that appears to be pretty high-maintenance; that sucks a big chunk of your remaining free time.  You have chosen to have a kid, which further cuts back on available time; now you've chosen to add another, so again, more time demands.  In addition, you have chosen to structure your jobs so you maximize the time at least one of you is with the kids -- so more time on kiddos.  And then you want to do all of the house chores yourself -- again, more demands on your time.  Add on the basics of cooking/bathing/billpaying/sleep, and all of those choices mean that you are left scrambling through the day just to keep up with all of the things you have decided are necessary.  There is no difference here between how you are spending your time and how someone else chooses a big house and a fancy car and a long commute and a maid and a nanny and nice clothes/vacations then ends up wondering why it is that he makes a ton of money but still can't manage to save for retirement.  Your values are better than that guy's, but you are ending up in the same place:  too many "needs" that are spreading you too thin.

So the answer is, if you want to "find" more time in your day to get things done, you need to make other choices.  And your first choice should be figuring out what expectations you can drop entirely.  For me, honestly, I gave up on the idea of regular exercise -- I just flat-out gave myself permission not to go to the gym, because I wasn't going anyway, and I didn't want to go badly enough that I was willing to sacrifice something else for it, so instead of not going and feeling guilty about it, I just decided not to go.  No change in the normal daily routine, but much less guilt and feeling overwhelmed.  For you, ask yourself:  which of those projects do you actually need to do, right now, as compared to "like to have."  Is the well water unsafe, or is that just a desired improvement?  Be ruthless in cutting stuff from your list that doesn't absolutely have to be done right now.  Triage your life to get through the next couple of years.

Next, lower your standards on the things that must be done.  Look, I'm a cook, and I take pride in making delicious, varied foods that I and my family really enjoy.  But when my kids were little, you know, if we had a box of mac and cheese and an apple for dinner, that was fine -- no one was going to starve.  And my kids only ever did one outside activity at a time, because that's all we could manage without losing our minds.  How often do you need to cut the lawn?  Can you make that every couple of weeks instead of weekly?  What else can be done to a "just good enough to get by for now" level? 

And, yes, look to outsource, partially or fully.  It's ok if you take the car to Jiffy Lube once in a while when you're in the thick of things, or use grocery delivery or buy a pre-made roast chicken or whatever.  Again:  this is not forever.  This is a temporary measure to get you through an extremely time-intensive and exhausting period of your life.  Take a hard look at all the stuff that you need to do.  What is your least favorite stuff -- the things you really dread doing, or the ones that take the most time and give you the least pleasure?  Outsource that.  Now. 

Once you've done all that, look at how you spend your time during the day and figure out how you can use it more efficiently.  You have a lot of good ideas so far -- automating your bill-pay, using your morning to get dinner going in a crock pot, batch cooking on a weekend so dinner is ready to go for the week, etc.  Look at how you can take advantage of slower times that are not currently particularly satisfying (e.g., flopping in front of the TV for an hour) to either get something else necessary done or to do something that really is relaxing to you.

And if all of that doesn't work, then you may need to go back to your initial "givens" and make a different decision about childcare or work hours.  It's great that you want to maximize both your time with your kids and your savings for FIRE -- those are healthy choices that show you have the right priorities in life.  But if you have structured the other aspects of your life in a way that doesn't leave enough time or money to achieve both of those goals at the same time, then you need to decide which one is going to give to some degree to give you some sort of balance.

zolotiyeruki

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Re: Where/how to find more time
« Reply #14 on: March 13, 2020, 11:18:53 AM »
The simple answer is that almost nobody gets everything done that they "have" to.

There's an old saying about budgeting: "You can afford anything, but you can't afford everything."  The same is true of our time, and to an even greater extent, since we cannot increase the amount of time we have.

I'm in a similar stage, where my "to do" list always seems to simply get longer.  I have learned to accept the fact that while I can tackle just about any project, I cannot tackle them all.  This has led me to "declutter" my to do list, or at least put some projects on "indefinite hold."  For example, "replace the broken sprinkler controller" has been on my list since we moved into our home almost nine years ago.  We never run the sprinkler system, so I don't let it bother me that it's not done.  You've recognized that there are projects (like cars) that you simply won't have time for.  It's good that you recognize that now.  Yes, it's sad to see those languish.  But that's life.  Like it or not, parenthood is now your hobby (and second job).

It's emotionally hard, but physically divesting of projects can feel quite liberating.  Sure, you're not spending time on your car/tractor projects, but you *are* spending mental/emotional energy on them.  Selling them means you no longer need to suffer guilt/FOMO/whatever about not working on them.

Other things that help me:
--Think of some tasks as insurance, i.e. a relatively small project that will prevent bigger problems down the road.  Make those a high priority.  Paying bills and fixing leaky plumbing falls into this category.  "Paint the bedroom" does not.
--Some tasks may not appear important now, but will have long-lasting positive impacts, like decluttering, or organizing things.  The term for this is "yak shaving."  For example, I added a couple more outlets to my workshop (went from 2 to 6) so that I spend less time plugging/unplugging tools.
--Combine tasks.  Fold laundry while you watch TV.  When preparing meals, put the dishes directly in the dishwasher instead of the sink.
--Automate routine tasks if you can, like paying bills.
--Be mindful of your downtime, specifically how long you will take, and why.  E.g. "I'm going to watch one episode of Hogan's Heroes because I need to relax, and it's funny."
--Take a moment each day to appreciate what you've accomplished.  Perhaps even write it down.  My to do list also includes a list of all the projects that are complete.

It's easy to look at the big time commitment of work, and to think that's the problem.  People fall into the same trap when it comes to finances.  What they don't realize is that all the little $10 expenses add up, too.  You can look at all the little 5-10 minute things you do, and find lots of ways to economize.

One more thing:  sit down with DW and discuss it.  Work together to find a solution.

mm1970

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Re: Where/how to find more time
« Reply #15 on: March 13, 2020, 11:28:44 AM »
You can't increase time.  All you can do is be absolutely ruthless about cutting back on the stuff that doesn't matter as much.  The reality is that you are in a sucky phase right now, and it's going to get worse.  Your goal for the next couple of years needs to be to get through it while keeping your sanity and maintaining a happy, healthy family.  That's it.

The analysis here is exactly the same as the financial version.  Your time is a fixed quantity.  That means that life is an "or," not an "and."  You, for example, have chosen two full-time jobs.  That by definition cuts back on free time.  You have chosen to live in a house that appears to be pretty high-maintenance; that sucks a big chunk of your remaining free time.  You have chosen to have a kid, which further cuts back on available time; now you've chosen to add another, so again, more time demands.  In addition, you have chosen to structure your jobs so you maximize the time at least one of you is with the kids -- so more time on kiddos.  And then you want to do all of the house chores yourself -- again, more demands on your time.  Add on the basics of cooking/bathing/billpaying/sleep, and all of those choices mean that you are left scrambling through the day just to keep up with all of the things you have decided are necessary.  There is no difference here between how you are spending your time and how someone else chooses a big house and a fancy car and a long commute and a maid and a nanny and nice clothes/vacations then ends up wondering why it is that he makes a ton of money but still can't manage to save for retirement.  Your values are better than that guy's, but you are ending up in the same place:  too many "needs" that are spreading you too thin.

So the answer is, if you want to "find" more time in your day to get things done, you need to make other choices.  And your first choice should be figuring out what expectations you can drop entirely.  For me, honestly, I gave up on the idea of regular exercise -- I just flat-out gave myself permission not to go to the gym, because I wasn't going anyway, and I didn't want to go badly enough that I was willing to sacrifice something else for it, so instead of not going and feeling guilty about it, I just decided not to go.  No change in the normal daily routine, but much less guilt and feeling overwhelmed.  For you, ask yourself:  which of those projects do you actually need to do, right now, as compared to "like to have."  Is the well water unsafe, or is that just a desired improvement?  Be ruthless in cutting stuff from your list that doesn't absolutely have to be done right now.  Triage your life to get through the next couple of years.

Next, lower your standards on the things that must be done.  Look, I'm a cook, and I take pride in making delicious, varied foods that I and my family really enjoy.  But when my kids were little, you know, if we had a box of mac and cheese and an apple for dinner, that was fine -- no one was going to starve.  And my kids only ever did one outside activity at a time, because that's all we could manage without losing our minds.  How often do you need to cut the lawn?  Can you make that every couple of weeks instead of weekly?  What else can be done to a "just good enough to get by for now" level? 

And, yes, look to outsource, partially or fully.  It's ok if you take the car to Jiffy Lube once in a while when you're in the thick of things, or use grocery delivery or buy a pre-made roast chicken or whatever.  Again:  this is not forever.  This is a temporary measure to get you through an extremely time-intensive and exhausting period of your life.  Take a hard look at all the stuff that you need to do.  What is your least favorite stuff -- the things you really dread doing, or the ones that take the most time and give you the least pleasure?  Outsource that.  Now. 

Once you've done all that, look at how you spend your time during the day and figure out how you can use it more efficiently.  You have a lot of good ideas so far -- automating your bill-pay, using your morning to get dinner going in a crock pot, batch cooking on a weekend so dinner is ready to go for the week, etc.  Look at how you can take advantage of slower times that are not currently particularly satisfying (e.g., flopping in front of the TV for an hour) to either get something else necessary done or to do something that really is relaxing to you.

And if all of that doesn't work, then you may need to go back to your initial "givens" and make a different decision about childcare or work hours.  It's great that you want to maximize both your time with your kids and your savings for FIRE -- those are healthy choices that show you have the right priorities in life.  But if you have structured the other aspects of your life in a way that doesn't leave enough time or money to achieve both of those goals at the same time, then you need to decide which one is going to give to some degree to give you some sort of balance.
I figured I could just read @Laura33 and just agree.

Two jobs and small children?  Just give it up.  You aren't going to get it all done, you are going to be in a state of exhaustion for a few years, accept it.

By all means, be ruthless at eliminating some things.

Unlike Laura, I did not eliminate exercise.  I needed it for my sanity.  I outsourced cleaning, streamlined cooking, and eliminated doing the kids' bedtime routine.
I had two friends who told me they "could not" exercise.  I explained to them our method:
1.  We took turns / alternated days.
2.  We went at 6 am.
3.  We only got 7-8 hours sleep a night.

So for one friend, she had "no time" because she slept 10 hours a night.  I told her "I get 8".  She started exercising.
For the other, it never occurred to her to work out at 6 am, and weekend mornings were "family time" and I said "for us it's individual workout time".

You can't have everything.

SunnyDays

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Re: Where/how to find more time
« Reply #16 on: March 13, 2020, 04:25:46 PM »
Decide on what your essential activities are (eat, sleep. work, bathe, laundry, groceries, etc) to keep everyone alive and in reasonable health.  Do only those things for one month.  Do these things in as basic a manner as possible, like bathe less, do laundry less often, get groceries delivered or use click and collect, keep a sink full of soap and water at all times, so dishes are quick to do, and so on.  Think through each routine to make it as efficient as you can.

Once you see how much time you have to spare, add in the non-essentials.  Keep your expectation reasonable and don't expect to do it all yourself.

Mustachianism isn't about not spending money, it's about spending it mindfully on things that improve your quality of life.  So spend what you need to in order to be in control of your life.

Villanelle

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Re: Where/how to find more time
« Reply #17 on: March 13, 2020, 04:50:45 PM »
Raising babies is basically triage.  You are in the middle of that.  Part of what you need to do is accept that.

Then, lower standards.  Vacuum your house half as often.  Clean your bathrooms 25% less.  Deal with dust and clutter.  Put laundry away unfolded (and or fold it during that hour of TV).  Even wash your hair half as often.  All these things are likely perfectly safe and will buy you maybe an hour or two a week.

You mention meals--do batch cooking on the weekend.  Yes, it will eat maybe 90 minutes more of your weekend time, but you will get that plus more back during the week. 

So there are a few things you can do. But mostly, you are going to have to realize this is the season of life you are in.  This too shall pass but until it does, there's likely not much you can do. 

lutorm

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Re: Where/how to find more time
« Reply #18 on: March 13, 2020, 05:03:38 PM »
I figured I could just read @Laura33 and just agree.
Me too!

And key for me was to learn to accept that those things that you want to do but don't have time for (and there always will be), they don't exist. Put them out of your mind. If you go around thinking about what you don't get done, you'll just make yourself unhappy. You can't do anything about it anyway, so don't worry, be happy.

jo552006

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Re: Where/how to find more time
« Reply #19 on: March 13, 2020, 09:32:05 PM »
I want to be clear on something I've probably not stated. DW and I are not unhappy.  In general, we feel like we've cultivated a near perfect life.  Sorry if that doesn't come across; I hate text/email/print... as it doesn't carry tone well.  I'm just tired of feeling like the project list is piling up and I'm only completing the bare minimum, and was hoping for some ideas for places to look.  Honestly, I'm finding many great suggestions here, and several that I'm actually going to look into implementing.  An example of a project that has been put off 3 years too long: my cellar *could* get water if the sump pump stopped working.  I have something like 12-18 pallets that I got at an auction to put under everything just in case, I EVEN RINSED THEM OFF AND MOVED THEM TO THE BASEMENT ALREADY!!!  I just need about 3 SOLID days to organize basement and get everything off the ground, or 1 day if I JUST get everything off the ground.  With the way things are going, it's likely that this year, next, or 5 years from now the sump will have an issue and we'll be picking stuff off the floor to dry it out instead of doing it AHEAD.  (I DO check the sump yearly/multiple times a year for proper operation but unless I rig up an alarm... like the roost one I looked at today... I can't be confident my sump won't quit working suddenly and take me a day or two to notice.)

@Zikoris & others: I see a lot of people mention the bills.  Nothing automatically leaves accounts without my permissions, however as much as I can they are all online.  The term "bills" in our house REALLY means, office work.  Actually paying bills is really 2 hours a month.  The rest is going through junk mail, researching and ordering online stuff, and my favorite, arguing with medical offices/insurances.  In short "Bills" = any type of office work.  I'm not saying there isn't improvements to be made, just clarifying that actually PAYING BILLS is not very time consuming.  Driving around doing errands related to bills maybe an additional 1 hour a week.

@NotJen: With regards to car maintenance, similar to bills this doesn't ACTUALLY take up much time.  I was using it as an example of something that is a skill I can do, that my wife can't much.  We have 2 great older reliable vehicles which I've no complaints about.  Neither are truly mustachian, but my car was free and DW has worked and saved for too long for me to stuff her in a(nother) 2 door honda civic.  We're past that point in our journey.  Having said that, at some point, spark plugs and wires becomes general maintenance (before you ruin an ECU), and I'm about 3000 miles overdue.  That's going to be a decent morning as on my car I guess you have to rock the engine forward to get to the plugs by the firewall.

@almost everybody: I *hope* that some of the current food failings will get better in a couple months.  We are (were?) great meal planners, but DW hasn't had time/energy at the end of the days to cook (I often prep ahead of time).  Perhaps crock pot is an answer, but this is an area I'd REALLY like to improve as of late.  A couple months ago, we were prepping vegetables for snacking/cooking, making a pot of soup or chili, and maybe making another meal like tacos on Sunday night that would last for the first few days of the week.  Thursday/Friday ended up being, "okay what do we need to focus on eating so we don't waste food."  With Grandparents close enough to eat dinner with any night DW is tired, planning has been much less useful.  We've been doing more cured meats recently to try to allow for less than ideal planning/execution, but while I think carbs are the BIGGEST enemy of healthy, eating Sausages and bacon this often CAN'T be healthy.  As I said, I *hope* this is short term.

@Moonwaves: WRT delayed sleep phase disorder.  I've seriously considered the possibility, but from all my research I'm thinking it's more likely I either have un-diagnosed sleep apnea (I don't really have the symptoms except that I hate mornings), my body just really functions well on 8+ hours of sleep/loves consistent sleep schedules, or I'm just not a morning person.  Even if I DID have delayed sleep phase disorder, the "treatment" for somebody with as mild a case as I'd be classified with is a rigid sleep schedule and slowly working back to a reasonable wake up time (I'm awake at 6:30 - 7 most mornings already).

I'm planning to look up the organized mum method.  I'm also seeing that a lot of people here reference outsourcing stuff.  Easy target: Floors/Bathrooms/Dusting.  I'm thinking if we don't have a better handle on stuff when Maternity leave is done, then this will be the first place to look for some improvements.

@wellactually: I don't think I was clear in what wasn't being accomplished.  If we ignore anything more than minor projects, we absolutely can keep our head above water, and will be able to with new baby.  I think dishes and laundry would probably build up slightly as the week goes on, but Saturday morning we can solve those things.  It's projects that are the things that keep falling behind... The big frustration is that some of the projects are pretty important.  2 Years ago we sanitized our well.  Didn't do it last year, and had indicator bacteria in early winter.  This CANNOT be put off again and should be completed this spring.  Additionally, installing my whole house UV light (bought 3 years ago but wasn't installed) and purchasing a Reverse Osmosis drinking system are pretty important.  Also important is replacing all our smoke detectors that don't do carbon monoxide and don't all interconnect properly.  Other projects include hanging pictures, installing door stops, simple things that just require a 3-4 hour period set aside to do.  Though I assume it goes without saying, this list is FAR FAR FAR far far far from exhaustive.

@Apocalyptica602: I think there might be some time taken for granted on things and that's another great idea I've gotten from this thread.  I wonder if I can track screen time usage and see if maybe what I assume is 5-10 hours a week is more.  I barely use my cell except to look stuff up (I think), but maybe a tracking app might be eye opening.

@mistymoney: I don't actually find that DW or I have a sleep issue right now.  I'm looking at sleep as an obvious place where maybe cutting back a little could be helpful.  If new child is anything like the first, then sleep department isn't going to be too bad.  (First child slept through the night at 2 weeks old... then never stopped.  Also never learned to cry.  Literally, made noises to indicate stuff, but didn't cry)  Having said that, I definitely think that outsourcing might be a good start.

@wellactually: yeah our schedules make it hard to be productive on a daily basis.  No current plan to change anything but definitely could look into adjustments.  With regards to working part time, it's not something we could likely do with our existing jobs.  It IS basically what would happen if I left my job.  If I wasn't working on projects (I suspect project work would slow down after a few months of catch-up) I'd probably develop side work.  Maybe pick up a house to renovate and rent/sell, maybe even grab a car that needed a head gasket and make a few grand.

Wow @Laura33, that's a superb response.  I really do feel like my priorities are in the right place but you're accurately pointing out the fact that having priorities right might not be enough.  Thank you for your very thoughtful response.  With regards to well water, it wasn't a health danger a year ago.  Pushing out a year was likely fine, we've been drinking it, but now that we know we've got indicator bacteria, it's gone beyond "nice to have" and come back into the "needs to happen" category.  With regards to TV... DW is quite pregnant, and while it's a FAR less than ideal quality time, right now that is our quality time during the week.  Usually I'm eating my dinner during this time as well.

WRT tractors and car projects.  These honestly don't take up any mental energy and we have the space.  These have been safely put in a "when there's time" bucket and I full well know it probably won't be until FIRE that time for these exist.  The ONLY time those are problematic is when DW targets them as easy optimization.  She's right, we *could* get rid of all my projects that I've collected.  It would optimize the look of that portion of our yard... but that's where it ends.  We get no more time, and I lose out on a bunch of really cool stuff that I was looking forward to some day.

What I've gotten so far:
1. Continue to stay happy with life because at the end of it all, our life is pretty fucking great.  EVERY DAY we live this awesome life.  This might not have been said, but it is true and DW and I always try to keep this in mind.
2. A LOT of this is COMPLETELY and totally normal at this point in life.  I need to ACCEPT THAT (which I really don't yet)
3. Our schedules aren't optimal for productivity.  (Something we likely can't change for about 1 year.  Granted 3 months of it will be maternity leave.)
4. Try to outsource anything that is reasonable
5. Organized mum method? (Haven't looked into this year)
6. Meal prep & bulk/batch cooking.  Hopefully we can get back on the bandwagon in a little bit once baby arrives
7. Cell phone tracking app?

*One idea I've been toying with for a few weeks now is using FMLA leave in it's entirety this year, and not just the 4 weeks paid paternity.  I don't think my employer would be thrilled, but honestly if I use the leave to stay caught up on things that have to happen so that I can be spending that many more hours with my family instead of doing chores/projects...

SunnyDays

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Re: Where/how to find more time
« Reply #20 on: March 13, 2020, 09:53:44 PM »
I notice that you are looking for big chunks of time in order to tackle projects.  Iíve found it helpful to do small bits whenever the chance arises.  Walking past something that needs doing?  Do one little bit right then.  It means you have lots of things only partly finished, but theyíre unfinished anyway, so at least youíve made a start.  You know what they say about a journey of a thousand miles....

Two other things that make a difference are: never leave a room empty handed and clean as you go.  Once these become habit, life is easier.  Also, ďas long as Iím here, Iíll just do this...Ē

pk_aeryn

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Re: Where/how to find more time
« Reply #21 on: March 14, 2020, 12:45:09 AM »
OP you sound like you have an incredibly high maintenance house. Do you LOVE it or can you move somewhere that doesnít have a well or anything like that.

Iím from CA and so maybe I just donít understand weather but the most maintenance our house needs is lawn mowing, weeding, and some occasional drain snaking.  Once the sprinkler valve broke.  Itís an old house, too.

Look and see if either of your companies have a health care advocate.  They will fight insurance companies for you.

Any online purchases/research should be done at work during breaks. Donít waste time on this at home.

How much junk mail do you get? Just throw it out, donít even look at it. Mail sorting should take no longer than 5 minutes.

Definitely crock pot.  I donít even have kids and this is all I can do to find the time for home cooking. Seriously donít make new recipes every night, eat as absolutely simply as possible. Batch cook proteins and starches, heat them up, add a fresh veg on the side. Use a different spice mix. For a new flavor. Done.

zolotiyeruki

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Re: Where/how to find more time
« Reply #22 on: March 14, 2020, 10:46:16 AM »
I notice that you are looking for big chunks of time in order to tackle projects.  Iíve found it helpful to do small bits whenever the chance arises.  Walking past something that needs doing?  Do one little bit right then.  It means you have lots of things only partly finished, but theyíre unfinished anyway, so at least youíve made a start.  You know what they say about a journey of a thousand miles....
This is a fantastic idea, and one that I've used, and I can't believe I didn't think to post it.  When I find myself saying "I don't have time to do that project," I turn it around and think "well then what *can* I do right now?"  If it's hanging a picture, maybe you don't have time to tackle the whole thing, but maybe you can measure where to hang it, and mark the wall.  And later when you have a few more minutes, you can find the wall anchor.

Or with the UV system, break it into smaller steps.  Decide where you'll mount it, figure out what materials you need, etc as separate tasks.

RetiredAt63

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Re: Where/how to find more time
« Reply #23 on: March 14, 2020, 02:06:23 PM »
Others have talked about life time management, so I won't.

Your house sounds like a country house.  So, as a former country house owner, the sump pump issue  popped out at me.
 
Get a plumber to put in a second, battery operated sump pump. Make sure you have an outlet handy for the battery part to plug into so the battery is always charged.  I did this after a small basement flood, and the peace of mind was worth the $1000 CAN it cost me. The plumber also moved the original pump to a better spot in the sump and made sure it was well anchored.  One of the unappreciated joys of life is hearing the backup sump pump running during a power failure.   ;-)

The CO monitors: analyse your house,  you and your wife together. Make a list for an electrician: where do you need more outlets. Do you need another light someplace. Do  you need something on a timer.   Do you want to change a light fixture. Identify where you need new CO detectors. Take a month to do this, adding to the list every time you identify a need.  Buy the supplies as you go, this gives you time to shop and hit sales. Then get an electrician in to do all these things at once. I did that and it made a huge difference to how well the house worked.  Cost of materials (3 new light fixtures, extra outlets, industrial timer and new protected exterior outlet, new CO detectors, new line to furnace room) and electrician was about $500 CAN.


DIY is great, but sometimes getting a pro in to blitz a problem is better.

GuitarStv

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Re: Where/how to find more time
« Reply #24 on: March 14, 2020, 06:36:13 PM »
Lower your standards?


It's very easy to kill yourself attempting to meet impossible standards that you've set yourself.  Don't do this.  An important part of living a happy life is figuring out how often you can just say "good enough" for minor things.

zolotiyeruki

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Re: Where/how to find more time
« Reply #25 on: March 14, 2020, 09:09:20 PM »
On the subject of CO detectors, two thoughts:
1) You can get CO detectors that plug into outlets.  Sure, they're not networked, but see #2
2) CO is heavier than air, so it's more beneficial to have them located lower anyway.  Also, the potential sources of CO are limited to things that use natural gas or propane in your home:  stove, furnace, water heater.

This is one of those projects that will cost you a hundred bucks at the hardware store and 10 minutes at home to finish.

Laura33

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Re: Where/how to find more time
« Reply #26 on: March 16, 2020, 12:40:03 PM »
An example of a project that has been put off 3 years too long: my cellar *could* get water if the sump pump stopped working.  I have something like 12-18 pallets that I got at an auction to put under everything just in case, I EVEN RINSED THEM OFF AND MOVED THEM TO THE BASEMENT ALREADY!!!  I just need about 3 SOLID days to organize basement and get everything off the ground, or 1 day if I JUST get everything off the ground.  With the way things are going, it's likely that this year, next, or 5 years from now the sump will have an issue and we'll be picking stuff off the floor to dry it out instead of doing it AHEAD.  (I DO check the sump yearly/multiple times a year for proper operation but unless I rig up an alarm... like the roost one I looked at today... I can't be confident my sump won't quit working suddenly and take me a day or two to notice.)

* * * *

I *hope* that some of the current food failings will get better in a couple months.  We are (were?) great meal planners, but DW hasn't had time/energy at the end of the days to cook (I often prep ahead of time).  Perhaps crock pot is an answer, but this is an area I'd REALLY like to improve as of late.  A couple months ago, we were prepping vegetables for snacking/cooking, making a pot of soup or chili, and maybe making another meal like tacos on Sunday night that would last for the first few days of the week.  Thursday/Friday ended up being, "okay what do we need to focus on eating so we don't waste food."  With Grandparents close enough to eat dinner with any night DW is tired, planning has been much less useful.  We've been doing more cured meats recently to try to allow for less than ideal planning/execution, but while I think carbs are the BIGGEST enemy of healthy, eating Sausages and bacon this often CAN'T be healthy.  As I said, I *hope* this is short term.

. . . . 

The big frustration is that some of the projects are pretty important.  2 Years ago we sanitized our well.  Didn't do it last year, and had indicator bacteria in early winter.  This CANNOT be put off again and should be completed this spring.  Additionally, installing my whole house UV light (bought 3 years ago but wasn't installed) and purchasing a Reverse Osmosis drinking system are pretty important.  Also important is replacing all our smoke detectors that don't do carbon monoxide and don't all interconnect properly.  Other projects include hanging pictures, installing door stops, simple things that just require a 3-4 hour period set aside to do.  Though I assume it goes without saying, this list is FAR FAR FAR far far far from exhaustive.

. . . .

With regards to working part time, it's not something we could likely do with our existing jobs.  It IS basically what would happen if I left my job.  If I wasn't working on projects (I suspect project work would slow down after a few months of catch-up) I'd probably develop side work.  Maybe pick up a house to renovate and rent/sell, maybe even grab a car that needed a head gasket and make a few grand.

. . . .

One idea I've been toying with for a few weeks now is using FMLA leave in it's entirety this year, and not just the 4 weeks paid paternity.  I don't think my employer would be thrilled, but honestly if I use the leave to stay caught up on things that have to happen so that I can be spending that many more hours with my family instead of doing chores/projects...

OK, so there's a lot in here.  A few thoughts:

Have you considered that you just really like to be busy, and that your frustration is because you're too busy on stuff you don't value and not busy enough on the stuff you do?  Your list of what you'd do in retirement is, well, not exactly kicking back, is it?  It's more projects, and more complex projects.  I suspect that you are adjusting to the reality of life with kids, which is that there is a lot of monotony and just grinding through it, without the mental payoff of being able to look at/point to a "thing" when you're done.  I get a little of that sometimes -- my husband woodworks for relaxation, so people will come through the house and admire stuff he's made and gush all over it, and I'm like, "well, I watched an ADHD toddler and an infant so that he had the free time to do all that, give me something too!"  So maybe part of the answer is finding a way to remind yourself that what you're doing with your wife and kid(s) is just as important as all that other stuff -- if not moreso.  It just doesn't give you the immediate payback.

I am also laughing at the basement story.  Because, dude, if that is one of your higher-priority projects that you are frustrated you aren't getting done, well, welcome to life with an old house, you know?  This is the kind of thing where "don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good" comes into play -- that seemed to be an issue with a number of your examples, like "I'm not going to hang a picture because I need 3-4 hours to do it all, and I don't have that."  Why do you need three days to organize your cellar, when the "need" is to get stuff off the floor?  Why can't you spend 30 minutes each night moving a few things onto pallets while your wife is watching TV?  You'll be done in a week.  Or -- here's a thought -- find a way to do a crappier job that is much, much easier?  We have an old basement, too, and we had a big storm and a window popped open and we got a bunch of stuff wet and had to toss it.  Yeah, that was frustrating having to throw stuff out.  My solution?  Now we store stuff in the attic instead of the basement.  And honestly, I need less stuff anyway, so the real "solution" would be "just throw crap out or give it away when you're done with it, and you wouldn't have all that extra stuff to fret about organizing and taking care of."  Lower the bar.  Make it as easy as possible for you to fix the actual problem that needs fixed.

My suggestion:  start making a list of all the stuff that you think needs to be done.  And by this, I mean the problems you're trying to avoid/fix, not your proposed solutions.  After a week or so, take one of those spare hours, and prioritize the problems in order of severity -- both the likelihood of the problem occurring and the seriousness of the consequences if it does.  For example, making sure you have safe well water is a much higher priority than making sure the stuff in your basement doesn't get wet IF it rains a ton and IF the basement floods and IF the power goes out at the same time and the sump pump fails.  Right?  Once you have that list, start with the most significant problem, and brainstorm all the ways to fix that problem.  What's your "perfect" solution?  What's the easiest solution?  What's keeping you from doing things the easy way?  Is there something in-between that you can do to fix the problem with very little time and energy, even if it isn't as perfectly done as you'd like?  Once you settle on something acceptable, figure out how to break it down into little bits that you can do here and there, and/or talk to your DW about getting a chunk of time on a weekend to get that done.

Oh, and FWIW:  don't take all your FMLA leave on the theory that you will get everything pending taken care of and life will go back to being easy.  Because no matter how much gets done, there are always, always more things to fill the void -- particularly when you are wired to notice those sorts of things and want to get them done, as you seem to be.  So by all means, take a week or two extra -- not just to slam through some projects, but because boy 4 weeks is not enough time even to settle into a new routine with a new baby.  Use some of that time to clear through some of the projects that are annoying you.  But don't go into it with this expectation that if you could "just" do XYZ, then everything will be fine.  Because, trust me, there's no such thing as "perfect" or "normal," particularly once you have kids.  And part of the job of parenting is just making your brain adjust to the new normal.

lutorm

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Re: Where/how to find more time
« Reply #27 on: March 18, 2020, 01:36:40 AM »
I notice that you are looking for big chunks of time in order to tackle projects.  Iíve found it helpful to do small bits whenever the chance arises.  Walking past something that needs doing?  Do one little bit right then.  It means you have lots of things only partly finished, but theyíre unfinished anyway, so at least youíve made a start.  You know what they say about a journey of a thousand miles....
Yeah, this is super important.

I'm an aspirational airplane builder; we're talking a task that takes thousands of hours to complete. One thing that most people who have completed one say is exactly this: If you're going to wait for the perfect all-day-free opportunity so you can get a bunch of stuff done, you'll get nowhere. Small steps and steady progress is key -- "do something every day" is a common refrain, "even if it's just cleaning up or prepping for the next task so you can just knock it out next time."

This is something I struggle with myself, because it feels very inefficient since you've barely gotten started when you have to stop. But now as a parent, the only way I can get any projects done is by taking an hour before going to bed, and I'm getting better at "just doing it".

jo552006

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Re: Where/how to find more time
« Reply #28 on: April 16, 2020, 08:56:35 AM »
Sorry for not coming back here sooner!  My life has gotten even busier of late between adding a child, and being the sole person who shops for multiple houses.  I have checked back here frequently and read/reread every response, just haven't taken the time to come back and post any updates or respond to comments.  Thank you all for the helpful responses.

A few general comments.  I DO look for chunks of time to do things in.  I still WANT big(er) chunks of time, but am trying to get better about using smaller chunks.  DW and I have recently tried to institute a policy of "a little better every day".  This pertains to everything, but is pretty easy to maintain as "a little better" only takes a tiny amount of effort beyond "treading water".

I think a lot of feeling like I don't have enough time is normal, especially considering a high maintenance house, 2 small children at home, and being a DIWK family.  Laura33 very accurately pointed this out.


@SunnyDays You are very right that I'm really looking for big (bigger) chunks of time to do things in.  I understand what you're saying about doing what you can when you can, but it is a hard mindset to get into.  I also feel like there's a minimum amount of time that is actually useful for projects.  <30 minutes and all collecting tools for a job does is make a mess somewhere else.  This is in opposition to my "little better every day" campaign where 5 minutes of picking up kids toys at the end of the day really moves the needs to making the house feel like it's not a shit show.

@pk_aeryn With regards to moving, that is not in the cards right now.  Mrs. jo552006 loves where we are and wants to raise a family here.  I really like this place as well, but am acutely aware that 90% of the time/work issues comes from having too large of a house and too many things.  I have had serious converations with DW to point out that a LOT of our time/effort ultimately goes to keeping up with a house that is as you point out, incredibly high maintenance but she loves it here (so do I), and she's made it clear she is not even entertaining the idea of moving.

@RetiredAt63 There have been many times where people have assumed I have an old country house by my descriptions of things. As it was a foreclosure, I've done work that typically people assume I had to do becuase it is an 1800's house or something.  I DO have a very high maintenance house, but it is FAR from an old country house, it's just big.  Wiring is up to date, cable in every room, the house was finished in 2001.  The sump issue is not related to being old, there is a perimeter drain (possibly wrong terminology) underneath the perimeter of the basement running into the sump hole, as well as a large cross house drain under the slab to ensure water goes TO the sump hole where it belongs.  It works splendidly, but knowing that it would flood if the sump failed means that storing stuff on the floor is just dumb... so I want to fix that.  Additionally, I want to ensure a backup or alarm so that I have a chance to solve problems before they become too large to solve.  Water in the sump hole is only a 2 month a year issue, and the sump pump only runs about 1 month of that time.  I guess, in short I don't really feel like I need to pay an electrician or plumber to fix most things as the house is in REALLY good shape and smoke/CO2 alarms, sump pump backups, things like that I can do with just a little bit of free time.

@GuitarStv A LOT of my time problems come from me being unable to properly determine "good enough".

@zolotiyeruki I did buy 3 smoke/co2 alarms and installed one of them so now out home is "offically" safe.  However I have some older non-interconnected alarms mixed in and want to make sure that all alarms work properly, interconnect, are in date (or close to in date), blah blah blah.  2 hours of time to go room to room, checking interconnects, replacing old ones, making a list of how many new ones I need to order is all I need to finish that project to completion.  For the moment, I've got smoke and CO2 alarms installed so my family is safe.

@Laura33 Wow, outside of the assumption I have an old house (I don't)... you're response basically hits the nail on the head.  I think a lot of my feelings right now really do come down to "this is entirely normal for having kids".  Due to the coronavirus pandemic, I have been forced to take some LWOP which I am looking forward to very much.  I'm hoping they'll let me take it in 1 week increments instead of forcing us to spread out.  If they do, I'll be very pleased.

RetiredAt63

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Re: Where/how to find more time
« Reply #29 on: April 16, 2020, 09:25:20 AM »

@RetiredAt63 There have been many times where people have assumed I have an old country house by my descriptions of things. As it was a foreclosure, I've done work that typically people assume I had to do becuase it is an 1800's house or something.  I DO have a very high maintenance house, but it is FAR from an old country house, it's just big.  Wiring is up to date, cable in every room, the house was finished in 2001.  The sump issue is not related to being old, there is a perimeter drain (possibly wrong terminology) underneath the perimeter of the basement running into the sump hole, as well as a large cross house drain under the slab to ensure water goes TO the sump hole where it belongs.  It works splendidly, but knowing that it would flood if the sump failed means that storing stuff on the floor is just dumb... so I want to fix that.  Additionally, I want to ensure a backup or alarm so that I have a chance to solve problems before they become too large to solve.  Water in the sump hole is only a 2 month a year issue, and the sump pump only runs about 1 month of that time.  I guess, in short I don't really feel like I need to pay an electrician or plumber to fix most things as the house is in REALLY good shape and smoke/CO2 alarms, sump pump backups, things like that I can do with just a little bit of free time.

I wasn't assuming old, and it doesn't even have to be country  I've lived in 4 houses, none old, 1 suburban and 3 country, and they all had sumps and sump pumps, because of soil type and drainage.  Complete with what you describe for drainage.  For most of them, the pump only ran after heavy rains or in early spring when there is a lot of snow melt.

The worst flooding was in the suburban house, freezing rain and then rain in December when the ground had frozen, and a power failure.  We had a good 2 feet of water in the basement. We were lucky, the volunteer fire department came around to everyone once the power was back, and pumped out basements. A battery operated pump would have been wonderful then.  A battery operated pump also has the warning beeps.  If you don't do this, at least move the outlet for the pump up high.  We were lucky the power outlet for our flood was high and not under water.

Villanelle

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Re: Where/how to find more time
« Reply #30 on: April 16, 2020, 11:56:17 AM »
Sorry for not coming back here sooner!  My life has gotten even busier of late between adding a child, and being the sole person who shops for multiple houses.  I have checked back here frequently and read/reread every response, just haven't taken the time to come back and post any updates or respond to comments.  Thank you all for the helpful responses.

A few general comments.  I DO look for chunks of time to do things in.  I still WANT big(er) chunks of time, but am trying to get better about using smaller chunks.  DW and I have recently tried to institute a policy of "a little better every day".  This pertains to everything, but is pretty easy to maintain as "a little better" only takes a tiny amount of effort beyond "treading water".

I think a lot of feeling like I don't have enough time is normal, especially considering a high maintenance house, 2 small children at home, and being a DIWK family.  Laura33 very accurately pointed this out.


@SunnyDays You are very right that I'm really looking for big (bigger) chunks of time to do things in.  I understand what you're saying about doing what you can when you can, but it is a hard mindset to get into.  I also feel like there's a minimum amount of time that is actually useful for projects.  <30 minutes and all collecting tools for a job does is make a mess somewhere else.  This is in opposition to my "little better every day" campaign where 5 minutes of picking up kids toys at the end of the day really moves the needs to making the house feel like it's not a shit show.

@pk_aeryn With regards to moving, that is not in the cards right now.  Mrs. jo552006 loves where we are and wants to raise a family here.  I really like this place as well, but am acutely aware that 90% of the time/work issues comes from having too large of a house and too many things.  I have had serious converations with DW to point out that a LOT of our time/effort ultimately goes to keeping up with a house that is as you point out, incredibly high maintenance but she loves it here (so do I), and she's made it clear she is not even entertaining the idea of moving.

@RetiredAt63 There have been many times where people have assumed I have an old country house by my descriptions of things. As it was a foreclosure, I've done work that typically people assume I had to do becuase it is an 1800's house or something.  I DO have a very high maintenance house, but it is FAR from an old country house, it's just big.  Wiring is up to date, cable in every room, the house was finished in 2001.  The sump issue is not related to being old, there is a perimeter drain (possibly wrong terminology) underneath the perimeter of the basement running into the sump hole, as well as a large cross house drain under the slab to ensure water goes TO the sump hole where it belongs.  It works splendidly, but knowing that it would flood if the sump failed means that storing stuff on the floor is just dumb... so I want to fix that.  Additionally, I want to ensure a backup or alarm so that I have a chance to solve problems before they become too large to solve.  Water in the sump hole is only a 2 month a year issue, and the sump pump only runs about 1 month of that time.  I guess, in short I don't really feel like I need to pay an electrician or plumber to fix most things as the house is in REALLY good shape and smoke/CO2 alarms, sump pump backups, things like that I can do with just a little bit of free time.

@GuitarStv A LOT of my time problems come from me being unable to properly determine "good enough".

@zolotiyeruki I did buy 3 smoke/co2 alarms and installed one of them so now out home is "offically" safe.  However I have some older non-interconnected alarms mixed in and want to make sure that all alarms work properly, interconnect, are in date (or close to in date), blah blah blah.  2 hours of time to go room to room, checking interconnects, replacing old ones, making a list of how many new ones I need to order is all I need to finish that project to completion.  For the moment, I've got smoke and CO2 alarms installed so my family is safe.

@Laura33 Wow, outside of the assumption I have an old house (I don't)... you're response basically hits the nail on the head.  I think a lot of my feelings right now really do come down to "this is entirely normal for having kids".  Due to the coronavirus pandemic, I have been forced to take some LWOP which I am looking forward to very much.  I'm hoping they'll let me take it in 1 week increments instead of forcing us to spread out.  If they do, I'll be very pleased.

You can buy, cheaply, an alarm that will let you know if there is moisture spreading in your basement.  I can't recommend this one personally, but I found it on a quick Amazon search.  About $11, so you can buy several if your space requires that.  https://www.amazon.com/Glentronics-Inc-BWD-HWA-00895001498-Basement/dp/B000JOK11K/ref=sr_1_5?crid=14PMLS0CFBJTL&dchild=1&keywords=sump%2Bpump%2Balarm&qid=1587059572&sprefix=sump%2Bpump%2Bala%2Caps%2C156&sr=8-5&th=1

Should you still move that stuff off the floor?  Maybe, but ordering and setting this up probably takes about 15 minutes total, and then you can use your energy and time on other things. 

Fishindude

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Re: Where/how to find more time
« Reply #31 on: April 16, 2020, 12:34:13 PM »
If you have a full time job where you have opportunity to earn more by being more productive, doing a better job, working extra hours, etc. in most cases I feel you would be better served to spend your time at your regular job earning more, then hiring out the misc. projects around home such as were mentioned.

Changing your automobiles oil is a good example.  You can probably only save $10-20 doing it yourself vs a dealer oil change special and it will take around an hour of your time.
Most can make a whole lot better than $10-20 by putting in an extra hour at their full time job.

zolotiyeruki

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Re: Where/how to find more time
« Reply #32 on: April 17, 2020, 07:12:16 AM »
I dunno, changing the oil is like a 20 minute job for me, plus I don't have to go anywhere.

@Villanelle WRT to the backup sump pump, I recently installed one for a family member, with no previous experience except for knowing how to put PVC pipe together.  It only took me about an hour. It's very straightforward.  What's preventing you from getting that off your list?

jo552006

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Re: Where/how to find more time
« Reply #33 on: April 17, 2020, 08:21:10 AM »
@RetiredAt63  Sorry for my confusion.  I assumed your use of the term country house implied old country house, lots of problems, etc.  That was my mistake.

As far as sump and all basement outlets go, they are all several feet above the floor.  I could do a battery backup but we don't lose power here (basically ever) and if we did, we have a large Miller trailblazer welding machine that could run anything including the sump pump.  We also have a gas powered trash pump as well.  That's why I'm thinking about alarms and getting stuff off the floor... If I were confident that I'd know about an impending basement flood I have several ways to correct it regardless of the power situation.

I understand now that you weren't saying get an electrician/plumber in becuase my house is old and I'm over my head and/or have too many projects, but because the money is worth the time saved.  Thanks to some unpaid leave I've recently been given, I can hopefully get a bunch of projects going and not have to choose between money, time, and family as the choice has been made for me.

As always, appreciate the comments and hope everybody stays healthy in these times.  Thanks

Ichabod

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Re: Where/how to find more time
« Reply #34 on: April 17, 2020, 01:40:12 PM »
I have young kids, and I relate.

1. I try to have one chunk of time a week that's several hours long for "me-time". Sometimes it's a project, sometimes video games, sometimes books. Before kids and a professional job, I had this every night, and it's an adjustment not having it. I hope that this isn't a forever thing. Kids will get older and be able to join me in more of "my" activities, and eventually, they'll have lives of their own.

2. Looking at your schedule the thing that sticks out to me is most of your unallocated time is before your job. I would struggle with this as I need hours after my job to wind down, and I don't like starting interminable tasks before work. Hopefully, this isn't an issue for you. If I were your shoes though, I'd challenge myself to be as intentional as possible with those morning hours.

SailingOnASmallSailboat

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Re: Where/how to find more time
« Reply #35 on: April 17, 2020, 04:06:38 PM »
I'm struck by something you said earlier about "being the sole shopper for multiple households". Not sure what you meant by this, but if you truly are the only one grocery shopping for multiple households this is majorly time consuming. Grocery delivery, or pickup, saves way more time than the additional cost. Check it out.

Tim Ferriss has his negative points for sure. But his "Four Hour Workweek" has many brilliant moments - some that might apply for you include the idea of batching and also the idea of figuring out what it costs you to hire out stuff. I will add that the mental energy required to keep track of items like house cleaning costs something. Outsourcing that can be a lifesaver, regardless of the dollar cost, if you can afford it (and right now that's not really an option from a safety standpoint.)

There's no extra time in a day. Everyone has 24 hours. It's what you prioritize that winds up happening in the end.

RetiredAt63

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Re: Where/how to find more time
« Reply #36 on: April 17, 2020, 07:58:51 PM »
Shocking the well takes 10 minutes, and half of that is finding the right size hex key.  Of course you then have to flush the chlorine through the system, which means running all the taps for a while to get the chlorine through all the pipes.

I didn't see any mention of alcohol there, but I know that when I used to have a glass of wine (literally one 4 oz glass) with dinner on week nights I was useless for anything productive for the rest of the evening.  One beer before dinner would probably have the same effect.

One way to be more productive is to time yourself on various activities.  You are more likely to start activity X if you know it takes 10 minutes, if you used to think it took longer.  And habits - things like emptying the dishwasher while the coffee starts, or whatever fits your household.  Put them on automatic.  Just like you brush your teeth before bed, you don't think about it, you just do it.

zolotiyeruki

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Re: Where/how to find more time
« Reply #37 on: April 17, 2020, 10:15:36 PM »
Shocking the well takes 10 minutes, and half of that is finding the right size hex key. 
There's a $3 solution to that:  buy an extra hex key of that size, and hang it RIGHT THERE.  Tether it, too, so that it's not tempted to wander off.

Hmmm, I should do that with our towel bars...same issue.  Seriously, who decided that 9/64 should be the size of the grub screw!?