It’s funny, I get a surprising number of questions regarding how on earth I manage to balance work, training, life and blogging.
And, to be honest. I don’t.
No, not ‘I don’t know’. But rather, ‘I don’t’ as in ‘I don’t very well’.
They all take up quite a bit of time, there’s no getting around that. Looking at the ‘splits’, you see:
– Work ranges from 8-18 hours a day, depending on where and what I’m doing.
– Training is usually 1-2 hours a day on weekdays, and 3-5 hours a day on weekends.
– Writing posts, answering e-mails, posting comments, etc.. takes about 1-2 hours a day minimum.
– Life takes up whatever is left.
So, if you’re doing simple math – that doesn’t leave a lot of time left in the day, let alone the week.
But I do have some tricks up my sleeve in relation to the whole balancing thing. So I’ll walk through each of the main categories, and hopefully let onto a few little nuggets of goodness.
First, on the sports side.
I train typically between 10 and 15 hours a week. Not quite as much as I had to last year for racing Ironman distances, but still quite a bit. The primary time saver is cutting down the length of the longer weekend ride and weekly long-run. However, I still spend an inordinate amount of time either getting to a workout location (pool, long ride place, etc…) or coming home. I only wish I had a pool out my front door.
If you ask The Girl, she’ll tell you I’m hardcore about starting my workout the second my work is done for the day. Much to her dismay, I don’t like to spend any extra time between these two activities doing anything. I find it’s super easy to slide from 5PM to 6PM and have accomplished nothing, except to push your night even later.
And for me, I’m the type of person that wants to get the workouts done and over with. I enjoy them, but I also want them done. But I’m also the type of person that really lets no excuse get in the way of training, so I just find a way to make it happen.
As an aside, I actually don’t often workout early in the morning. I usually only reserve that for days where a double-header involves a swim and functionally it just fits my schedule better. I’m NOT a morning person.
Work just happens. For me though, my work never really ends. I get calls at 11PM on a Saturday, and 8AM on a Sunday, and every other time something breaks badly. During the day though, it’s just a lot of work and nonstop phone calls. While I generally work out of my home office, that’s both a blessing and a burden – as while you have a bit more flexibility, you never really escape work, it’s always there.
The bigger challenge I have is travelling while working. As I write this, I’m sitting on a long plane flight going on a multi-week international work trip. This generally messes with my training schedule quite a bit. In fact, it’s one of the major reasons why this year I didn’t do an Ironman. My work schedule in 2010 just wouldn’t allow for a competitive Ironman race, due to lack of longer rides (100+ mile).
I do however, get my workouts done. See my recent San Diego trip for examples of how I’m up at 3:30AM doing multi-hour bike/run bricks to get everything in. And travelling in general, see my travelling and training post.
The challenge with blogging time-wise isn’t so much the actual writing of content. Though that does take up many many weeknight hours each week. It’s actually all of the follow-up and that takes up the most amount of time. Well, that and reviews. Reviews take up an ungodly amount of time.
But first, to help, I plan my posts months in advance. Not all of them of course, and many of them change based on current events, moon phases, or just pure laziness in not getting a given post done by the date I wanted. Tonight for example putting the finishing touch on this post, I also decided to post something else as I couldn’t get quite it the way I wanted it to. So things are still pretty fluid.
Below, for example is my redacted blog schedule. You can see some gaps for TBD days reflecting current events, as well as some ones I’ve blacked out for various reasons. But don’t take the below schedule as gospel, it changes constantly!
I also have a pretty in depth list of posts (over 40+) in the long range hopper at any one point in time (if you could see further in my notepad list above, that’d be there!). The majority of these I try and write while on plane flights. I use Windows Live Writer to compose all my posts offline, and then eventually publish them online. Below is an example earlier on the FR110 review process, all those XXX’s eventually get filled in with pictures, or text edits.
But, the bigger challenge time-wise as I mentioned above is actually answering all the e-mails. I feel constantly bad about the lag time until I answer a message. I do indeed answer each and every message sent to me, sometimes it just takes a bit of time. Sometimes you catch me at a good time and I get an answer back seconds later, and sometimes it’s a bad week and it takes a while. Sorry!
For reviews (the other big challenge) – the primary item that slows me down is actually getting all the pictures. I take hundreds of pictures in my reviews, and many times I take a specific picture numerous times on different days to get the lighting/clarity just right. In order to try and remedy this, I’m constantly taking pictures of the items I review. This allows me more flexibility when it comes time to write the review, and ultimately means less time I need to spend taking more pictures.
Last but not least, the final chunk of time I spend each day is visiting a few of the triathlon related forums and helping people out find the information they want. This is generally my favorite part of the day, as it’s usually pretty entertaining.
The Girl & Life:
Finally, the bit of the equation that sometimes gets less balance than the rest. The Girl. She’s of course a hugely important part of my life, and I try (though not always succeed) in spending time with her.
In most cases however, we spend quite a bit of time together training. We’re lucky in that we both enjoy the sport quite a bit, are both fairly competitive in it…and mostly importantly – both share the same coach. Coach Alan helps out considerably by being able to sync our training schedules as much as possible, providing us the opportunity to at least be in the same lane, even if not the same pace. And running the same laps on the track at the same time. It all makes it a bit better that I can spend all of those training hours generally right beside her. That’s always good!
The rest of the time we spend together cooking, wandering about town, or just simply relaxing. In fact, simply relaxing is probably the best slice of time out there.
So there ya have it…my sometimes unbalanced yet still sorta balanced day in a nutshell!