Thursday, October 18, 2007

How DOES she do it?

I get a lot of questions about how I do what I do during the course of a day. The most recent of these is inferred in this post from Doug Belshaw, which also includes a challenge to me to do a "life in the day" (no - that's not a typo) type video of the same sort as he has done. I'll get around to that eventually, although I would like to warn readers that I'm nowhere near as technically skilled as Doug is.

I won't steal my own thunder by laying out my daily timetable here, but I thought I would reveal some of the timesaving devices I have in place.

Email alerts and aggregators
I seldom go looking for the material I read. It comes to me. A combination of my aggregator and email alerts keeps me in the loop whenever there has been an addition to any of the myriad conversations I follow.

Internet shopping
I buy the groceries (and a whole lot else besides) online. It takes me less than half an hour to do the week's grocery shopping and then a wonderful person comes and delivers it to my door within a two hour slot of my choosing. Thanks to my nagging, the delivery is (almost) carrier bag free, btu such carrier bags as they are get whisked away the following week by said wonderful person. The online service I use keeps track of everything I buy in their store or online, and stores it in a list of "my favourites", making it even more convenient. I am also notified if there is a special offer on any of the products I usually buy. There is a small cost for the delivery service, but I calculate that it is far less than the cumulative costs of my time, my fuel and the extras I would buy while strolling the aisles.

Cleaning service
At enormous expense, I have a weekly cleaning service for the house. When I worked freelance, I made sure I always kept the workload light enough to allow time for my children and the housework. When the kids were well established at school and I went back to work full time, the load of housework got spread across the family - all four of us pitching in. Gradually, as they got older and I took on extra activities, my sons were taking on more and more of the load around the house (and not with any great skill or enthusiasm, it has to be said). Then their own lives became too full: guitar lessons, sport, paper rounds, and we found ourselves spending our precious weekends doing the housework. We decided to splurge on a cleaning service. I'm too embarrassed to tell you what a dent it makes in the family coffers, but it frees up th
eir weekends to spend socialising and ours to do run other errands. Occasionally we might even get to do something together as a family ;-)


I keep Twitter open in the background all the time I am working and take mental breaks from my work to catch up every hour or so. I might do the same with a blog post I'm working on (such as this one) - adding to it every now and again when I need to come up from under on a task. I never just watch TV. I do so while doing the ironing or working online.

I have all the depth of a pondskater, and am usually moving on to the next thing before I've finished this one. I am incapable of tranquility unless I am halfway up a mountain far from civilisation with nothing but nature filling up my every sense. I tend to skim read the posts in my aggregator. If they delve too deeply or get too technical, I either abandon them or mark them for later consumption when I am able to focus my scant attention on them.

What's that? In Doug's video, we see him rising at 6am and back in bed by 10pm. I wish. I get very little sleep. I'm seldom in bed before midnight. I make up for it by getting up at 11am on Saturdays.

I used to exercise 4 times a week, including training with the local masters' swimming club. Since starting my Masters' degree, masters' swimming has gone by the board and my thrice weekly workout sessions are no more than a pipe dream. I promise myself that I will return to it the moment I have submitted my dissertation.

Convenience food
I hate ready meals and I am very suspicious of what they contain. Usually I cook proper meals from scratch. However, on Tuesday nights I have lectures and no-one else has the time to cook, so that's what's on offer. On Friday nights we might grab a takeaway. The kids call it chip night, since it's the only night of the week they ever get to eat genuine junk food. Once my Masters' is behind me, Tuesday nights will once more see the my family eating home cooked food, but I don't think I will be able to wean my family off chip night!

Once or twice a week, I work from home, which saves me a total of over 3 hours of travel time per week.

Social life
I don't have one. Apart from my husband and sons, all my friendships are now conducted online. We have not formed any meaningful social relationships since moving to the UK eight years ago. There is no way I would ever have had the time to do what I do online if we were still living in South Africa where our lives were filled to overflowing with "people with skin on". Thankfully, the wonderful world of web 2.0 has enabled us to stay in touch with friends and family in the far flung places in the world or we would have withered away long since.

There are a few other minor things, but I will leave those for the video project.


Anonymous said...

Illuminating Karyn, thanks for that! You're right about the lack of a social life, although ours centres around church.

This doesn't let you out of making a video though... :-)

Anonymous said...

Loathe as I am to draw lines, I would nevertheless differentiate between church social activities and socialising with people from church. We have a fair amount of the former, but none of the latter.