Two Days in the Life

4 February 2012 · 6 comments

Kris and I have dinner together at least once a week still. I was over at the house for tacos the other night, for instance, when she asked me, “So, what do you do with your time now? What’s your day like?” Then, in a recent discussion at my personal finance blog, a reader asked the same question.

So, in true blogger fashion, here’s a look at what I’ve done with my time over the past two days.

Note: To set the scene, I now live in an apartment in NE Portland, where I’m walking distance from almost everything. I love it. The divorce isn’t finalized — and won’t be for days, or weeks, or months — but Kris and I have been living apart for about a month now. We’re still finding our future path together, but we’re both committed to remaining friends.

Thursday
On Thursday, I slept in. In general, I try to get up at 5:30 so that I can make the 6:30 Crossfit class. That hasn’t happened much since I moved to my apartment though. I’ve had chronic insomnia, for one thing. For another, I’ve discovered that I enjoy visiting other class sessions throughout the day. So, Thursday I slept in.

Note: I didn’t do any formal exercise on Thursday. That happens about twice a week. I take “rest days” from Crossfit to give my body a break. Still, Thursday wasn’t sedentary. As you’ll see, I walked more than six miles around Portland.

I got out of bed at 7:00 and immediately went to work. For the next four hours, I answered e-mail. (If I keep current with e-mail, it’s not a problem. If I fall behind, it takes hours — or days — to catch up.) I also jotted outlines for three blog posts. As I worked, I did my laundry, which is something I haven’t had to do in years.

At 11:00, I stopped working and began to study Spanish. This included reading a book (El Alquimista) and creating some sentences involving different ways to express the notion of “becoming” in Spanish. (There’s no one way to do it.)

At noon, I left the apartment and began walking to my Spanish class. Along the way, I stopped for a couple of errands. I reveled in the uncharacteristically warm and sunny February day. I also listened to a Spanish-language podcast.

From 13:00 until 14:30, I had a Spanish lesson with my tutor. She answered my questions (I always have questions), we read El Principito, we discussed how Americans and Peruvians view time differently, and so on. For homework, Aly gave me a poem she had read in high school and asked me to translate it.

After class, I walked two miles from one coffee house to another. (As I walked, I listened to Spanish-language pop music.) At 15:30, I joined Mark Silver to talk about life. We met briefly at last summer’s World Domination Summit, and have been meaning to get to know each other. We had a fine conversation about business, marriage, children, goals, and more.

Note: I meet with people like Mark all of the time. That is, I meet colleagues and readers for lunch or coffee, and we have conversations about random things. I love it. There’s rarely a specific goal in mind for these gatherings — and I definitely consider them part of my work — but I enjoy them anyhow.

At 17:00, I started walking home. I passed one of my favorite restaurants just as it was about to open. Because there was no line for once, I stopped for dinner. As I ate fried chicken and mashed potatoes, I studied Spanish. I translated the poem that my tutor had given me earlier in the day.

I reached home at about 19:00, and promptly returned to work. I needed to get a post finished for Get Rich Slowly. Fortunately, I already knew the topic. By 21:00, I was finished and ready to climb in bed. I spent an hour surfing the web and reading bits and pieces from books and magazines (in both English and Spanish), then turned out the lights.

Note: I actually had insomnia Thursday night. I didn’t fall asleep right away. In fact, I didn’t fall asleep until around 2:00. Blarg! Instead, I tossed and turned. It was miserable.

Friday
On Friday morning, I got up at 05:30. I drove to the 06:30 Crossfit class, where I ran a 5k through Lake Oswego. Those three miles were miserable. I was tired. My legs were sore from workouts earlier in the week. And so on. I finished the run in 24:21, which is my second-fastest time ever, but I felt sluggish and heavy the whole way.

After Crossfit, I drove back to the apartment through heavy traffic — another reason I haven’t made the 06:30 class lately. I showered, ate breakfast, and dashed out the door to drive to Canby. There, I spent two hours in Naomi’s classroom, helping her kids with their reading and writing. (For the past few weeks, I’ve been volunteering in Naomi’s classroom for two hours every Monday and Friday morning. She teaches a Spanish/English second-grade class where most of the kids are native Spanish speakers. Their Spanish is much, much better than mine, but I get a kick out of reading and writing with them. And I think they like it too.)

At noon, I dashed back up to Portland for a lunch meeting with the World Domination Summit board of directors. While a larger team is planning this year’s conference, the four of us are beginning to think about the future. How large do we want the conference to grow in 2013? 2014? 2015? Who is our target audience? How can we make the event even better as time goes on?

After lunch, I returned to the apartment, where I spent ninety minutes answering e-mail and doing behind-the-scenes blog work. I also tried to plan the next week. Kris and I leave for Argentina soon, and I need to be efficient with my time.

At 16:00, I drove to the house to see Kris. She watched Biggest Loser while I fell asleep in my chair. (Blarg. Not an efficient use of my time!) At 17:30, we ate dinner at Five Guys Burger and Fries. I’m not a fan, but Kris wanted to try it.

From 19:00 to nearly 22:00, we were in Canby playing board games with the MNF group. Well, we were mostly chatting. The board games were simply an excuse to get together. The kids ran around and played while the adults talked about life.

Note: Because it’s been a long time since I wrote regularly here, I should define “the MNF group”. When I was in high school, I attended Zion Mennonite Church and was active in the youth group, the Mennonite Youth Fellowship (or MYF). Many of us became close friends. In fact, as adults, we’ve actively maintained these friendships. The MYF group eventually got together to watch Monday Night Football (MNF) every week. When kids came along, that faded and instead we began to have one gathering a month with some pre-planned theme. So, after thirty years, this group of friends still gathers for fellowship. How cool is that?

At the end of the night, I drove Kris home and then returned to my apartment, where I did a bit of cleaning before turning in.

Commentary
Were these two days typical of my current schedule? Yes and no. Friday involved a lot of driving and very little work, which is unusual. But taken together, this pair of days illustrate the various aspects of my life.

  • I spent 7-1/2 hours working on Thursday but zero hours working on Friday. (Well, the WDS board meeting was work, but not writing work.)
  • I spent 4-1/2 hours actively studying Spanish on Thursday and another two hours actively studying on Friday. Plus, there were several hours of passive learning (meaning: listening to music as I walked or listening to an audiobook as I drove).
  • Between the two days, I spent many hours with friends. The folks on the WDS board are my friends. Kris is my friend. I count my Spanish tutor as a friend now. And so on. It’s good when work and play can mix.

Actually, that last point is important to me. While I’m very much trying to shed the workaholic mode I’ve adopted over the past five years, I still prize efficiency. If I can make my time do double duty, that’s great. So, for instance, walking around Portland while listening to a Spanish podcast lets me accomplish two things at once. I like it.

But, as you can see, I don’t really have a “typical day”. That’s both good and bad. I generally don’t like routine. It bores me. I want to have flexibility built into my schedule so that I can take advantage of opportunities.

That said, some routine provides structure, and structure can help keep me focused. Since moving to the apartment a month ago, I haven’t had a chance to develop structure or routine, and my work has suffered because of it. Now I find that I’m behind on many, many things. This weekend, for instance, will mostly be spent here, sitting in front of the computer, writing about money. I’ll get out for Crossfit, for yoga, and for a two visits with friends, but the rest of my time will be in work mode. That’s the price I pay for being unfocused lately.

Maybe when we return from Argentina and Chile, I can begin to establish some sort of minimal routine. The only thing stopping me is…me!

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jaime 6 February 2012 at 16:37

That’s pretty cool. You have some structure, yet you still have flexibility. That’s so awesome. I have a couple of questions though.

Will you write about other things besides money? In past GRS posts you’ve written that you’d like to write science fiction. Will you ever do that? Do you ever get tired of writing about money?

Thanks.

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2 Mutant Supermodel 8 February 2012 at 09:08

While in Argentina can you go here for me?

http://flavorwire.com/254434/the-20-most-beautiful-bookstores-in-the-world#7

I didn’t know about it when I was in Buenos Aires several years ago for my honeymoon.

I went to the zoo and to the Japanese gardens and danced tango and went to the art market and ate such yummy food and wine. I’m dying to go back.

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3 Melissa 10 February 2012 at 11:35

Lapsed GRS reader. I’m sorry to hear about the divorce.

You probably already have an itinerary, but while you’re in Argentina, if you get the chance I would recommend checking out the Parque Nacional de los Glacieres in the South and in the north Iguazu, the waterfalls from the newest indiana jones movie. You’ll want to pay the money for the Brazil visa as well for the stunning view of the falls from the old airport. Also, Mendoza and Bahia Blanca are great places to visit.

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4 Crystal 22 February 2012 at 15:52

I lived in Bahia Blanca for 2 1/2 years and would actually highly suggest Ushuaia (south) or Iguazu (north) way more. Both of those places are where we would escape from Bahia Blanca and its random white sand storms, lol.

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5 Martin 21 February 2012 at 00:36

You want to talk about efficiency? I just read about two days in the life of someone two decades older than me lol!

This is pretty cool stuff to be honest. It’s funny how life changes when you’re single. Do you find yourself unfocused because you don’t have that life partner any more?

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6 David 27 February 2012 at 17:01

It’s amazing how your life changes when the people you spend every day with change, isn’t it? Mostly, in my 700 square foot apartment, I feel freedom. Freedom to pursue reading, or writing, or guitar-ing, or knitting, or whatever. Sometimes I do these things, sometimes I (like you) am my own most limiting factor.

What I wonder, and what you don’t really say, is this: Are you happy? You’re effective, you’re working in a job that you invented and doing things that you love. Are you finding the kind of happiness you hoped you would? Do you ever feel a longing for the old routine, the comfortable things, and spaces?

I feared that a traitor part of me might feel that way, not that I would deny it if I did. I think this is the best choice for me, but I accept and almost expected to be lonely at times, to feel a loss. I haven’t felt that. I wonder if that’s because I’m comfortable with myself and with being alone, or because my friends and family are filing those spaces in my life that need companionship.

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