:::this is the way the world ends:::


At long last, here are each of your responses to my questions about how we spend our time…

Response from J. E.:


5:00 alarm
5:10 out of bed, coffee and cereal
5:25 read, write, whatever
6:00 make sure Liz is up, make eggs and Liz’s tea
6:15 water plants, feed birds, tidy up, collect crap to take to work
6:25 eat with Liz
6:35 out the door!
7:20 at library, reading
8:00 at work
12:20 at library, coffee?, reading or getting books or CDs
1:00 at work
5:10 leave work
5:45 home, make tea, shower, surf internet, watch part of a movie, water plants, make supper or the like
6:30 eat with Liz
7:00 finished with supper, read, write, work in shop
9:30 in bed, light reading
10:00 lights out

My actual day varies quite a bit from this. It is very important to me NOT to have a rigid schedule. Sometimes I have deadlines for things. Like the Mennonite class. Rarely do I have self imposed deadlines. I’ve finally learned that for creative work I should do what I want when I want. When I want to read I should do that. When I want to write I should do that. I have so many varied projects going on that there is always something that I’m in the mood to do. Likewise if I’m really getting good work done at 9:30 I’ll continue to work until I’m tired and then not get up quite as early.

Response from Ned:

Okay, here’s my schedule during the school year. It is of course decidedly different when summer hits.

6:30 Get up, shower, in quiet and often darkness. Eat cold cereal and drink OJ.
7:00 Drive to work or be taken. Listen to music in van.
7:30 Prepare for class, reply to emails, etc.
8:00 Teach
12:00 Work in office, planning, grading, go to library, etc.
1:30 Arrive home. Check email, eat, play with kids, discipline, talk with Sara, write some checks, drink some coffee, etc.
3:00 Work in studio, run errands, read, write, or work on personal projects.
5:00 Come up to entertain Eliot while Sara cooks. Perhaps unload dishwasher, take out trash, etc.
7:00 Talk with Sara, read, write, or work in studio.
8:00 Play with Eliot, change a diaper. (Wednesday is the only consistent night of television for me. I hate to admit this, but since we’re being honest, I watch Lost and Law and Order along with millions of other viewers. Hey, you’ve gotta have some down time).
9:00 Read several books to Eliot and put him to bed.
10:00 Pick up around house, fold laundry, read, listen to music, talk to Sara. Sometimes complain to Sara about my metaphysical woes, write my daily schedule in an email to friends that are miles away. Iron clothes prepare for next day.

Basically the same, except that I go to work in the afternoon, and so I have down time and studio time in the morning, which is typically not as productive.

Basically the same as M/W except that I have long, tedious, unproductive, faculty meetings in the afternoons that sometimes keep me there until five.

7:00 Get up, drink coffee, lounge in the living room with Sara
8:00 Run some errands (this may include a trip to Target, the grocery, or to the mall; though to be perfectly honest, if I can avoid these trips at all, I do. Sara doesn’t really like me along because I complain about how materialistic I feel and how tight our finances are. So now she goes during the week if possible).
10:00 Traditional trip to library for books and perhaps a video. (This is often one of the highlights of the week for me).
11:00 Home or out for lunch.
1:00 If there are household chores or the car needs fixing (that kind of rigmarole) it gets done during this part of the day.
3:00 Studio or work time. I talk to my parents once a week for about twenty to thirty minutes and that call often takes place this time of day.
7:00 If we watch a movie during the week at all it is probably on a Saturday or Sunday evening.

7:30 Get up.
10:00 Go to church.
11:30 Go to lunch.
1:00 More or less similar to Saturday.

For what it’s worth,

Response from Toby:

[Toby originally sent a jpg of his original drawing of his time plan. Toby, if you can, perhaps you can post that in a comment to this conversation, so others can see it.]


[Note from Tob — I inserted the image…click on the thumbnail to open up a large version!] 


Obviously, the fact that I am getting this to you last and such a long time after you initially asked for it says a lot about how I spend my time from day to day 😉

There’s different “realities” of how I spend my time:

• There’s the “Ideal Reality” of how I’d like to have my time set up during the week. I created a timeline when I first started doing freelance as to how I imagined this (although, at the time I thought it’d be an actual schedule). I think I still aim towards this schedule as what I want to “get to” for now. If I ever get there, I may imagine something that works better. I’ve attached the original drawing of my plan. I’m a little surprised at how closely I do follow this every day. I separated things out into blocks of time, with major sections broken illustrated as time bricks, with lines coming out of them representing what the time is made of. In some places the time can be used as needed, but still sticking to the overall plan. The main deviation from this model is when I wake up in the morning…I usually stumble down to my computer immediately and start working. I really want (and believe I need) to start the day off by pushing back the concerns and getting grounded in my thoughts. Spiritual contemplation, if you will. I let the worries rush in at me as soon as I am awake, and I think it’s detrimental to my long-term sanity. I also neglect investing time in marketing myself and finding new work (marked as BB Develop). I imagined dedicating one day of every month, and one week of every year specifically to this. Still think it’s a good idea.

• There’s the “Micro Reality” of the day-to-day. As I’ve said above, it follows my ideal with the exceptions above…oh, and I forget to eat breakfast a lot too. I have implemented in daily running. I run at least 2 miles a day, for 5 days a week. It’s really helped things out greatly. I usually do this either over my lunch (around 1:30 to 2:30 most days) or in the evening before dinner. Sometimes, to fit it in on hurried days, I’ll do it late.

• There’s the “Macro Reality,” which is more of a long-term use of time. Hang out with friends at least once a week, have time at the pub with my guys friends twice a month, church on Sunday, family at least once a month, a date with Steph at least once a week. We’re trying to get more time to walk and have leisure time, but first we have to make it through lots of house projects. We realized the walks can’t wait, though, so we’ve been doing that together at least once a week. I desire to bring in more time to correspond with friends through (e)mail, phone and visits.

• There’s the “Gross Reality” of where we want our lives to move long-term. This is measured in years, rather than weeks or months. I want to get back into painting. I want to have a sustainable business that generates enough revenue to explore and develop some of the “big ideas” Steph and I have. I want to travel. Family vacation. Kids. Retirement near all of you guys, so we can hang out and play the vintage Playstation version of the “Masters of Teras Kazi,” not eat pistachios any more, make heart shaped burgers, and meet up on Coronado Heights with cigars, pipes, and cigarettes from time to time.

Hope this is what you were looking for, Shotts. Time is something I’m thinking about a lot lately. I am beginning to feel my mortality more acutely than before. There doesn’t seem to be all the time in the world anymore, like there used to be.

Response from Peters:

[This was shared in an earlier post on this site.]

Shotts- schedule is the following- Monday through Friday (varies slightly) up at 6:30 or so, walk the dog, get ready for work and depart at 7:30. Arrive and begin work at 8. See 4-8 clients per day, have lunch with Amanda at noon and commute home at 5:30. Work in garden, read, ride my bike or make dinner from 6-9. Walk the puppy again. Watch “good eats” at 10 and asleep at 10:30. Weekends have been very different and there has been no steady routine. will let you know more when we get things settled. If you want more information, let me know.

Response from Shotts:

Generally on the weekdays:
7:00 am: Wake, shower, eat
8:15 am: Go to work, often via bus, sometimes via car
by 9:00 am: Work
Noon: Lunch, often at work, sometimes walk to food co-op
By 1:00 pm: Work
5:30 pm: go home, often via bus, sometimes via car
6:00 pm: Open mail, make and eat dinner with Jen
7:30 pm: House duties (clean, mow, garden/yard, laundry, groceries, etc.)
8:30 pm: Read or watch movie or time with friends or go to reading or event
10:30-11:00 pm: Bed

Generally on the weekends:
At Aspengren lake place (most summer weekends)
Clean, organize house
Read, work on manuscripts for work, freelance editing
Out to dinner with Jen, maybe movie or some event
Read Sunday New York Times, catch up on The New Yorker
Write Organic Poetry column for food co-op newsletter
Walk around Powderhorn Park
Babysit niece and nephew


I have become interested in time and what we do with it and how that reflects our values. We are what we do with our time. It’s all we have.

I have been intrigued with creating a livable and sustainable daily schedule, ever since reading _The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin_, where Franklin outlines very specifically what he does with his time, from first waking until retiring. In some ways, his _Autobiography_ is a template for a certain kind of frugal existence—“healthy, wealthy, and wise.” Most autobiographies and memoirs tell a story of the author’s time and place, or maybe tell a story about the author’s thought and beliefs, but they rarely show the daily humdrum of existence, which is where those thoughts and beliefs are truly played out. Memoirists and journalists tend to define a life by a single important event or a short series of dramatic events, but that’s not what a life amounts to. As T. S. Eliot wrote: “I have measured out my life in coffee spoons.” That may, indeed, be more real than “I was part of one big thing.” We are the accrual of minutes and what we do with them. And what we measure them by.

Thanks to all of you for providing your schedule, what you do with your time. I hope you find them all interesting and useful. This issue has grown out of a discontent with my own schedule, my own use of time. It’s a difficulty that I admit has come from wedding my own schedule so intimately and, in some ways, dependently on another’s. Marriage has complicated what had been, at times, a very regimented and habitual use of my time. After speaking with you all, this seems to be universal.

I’m interested in how each of you spend your day, hour by hour, in part because it’s good to know what each of you might be doing—at this moment, for instance. It’s 5:22 pm, and I imagine Ned entertaining Eliot.

But beyond that, I’m interested in how our values play out in the way we use our time. For example, Ned and Toby both mention church on Sunday as an important part of their schedule. They are putting a value to work. I am amazed and also jealous, to use another example, at how much time J. E. puts into reading—at least two hours a day and sometimes more. That is a significant value in his daily life. Peters values his dog, and mentions him twice as part of his routine. I am also jealous of how Peters has lunch with his wife during the weekday, which seems unusual and something they have decided is important for their relationship. Ned and Peters are the only two who admit to watching a regular TV program. J. E. and I both mention watching movies. Media in general are a huge part of our schedules, looking across all five. I’m impressed how early J. E. wakes up and what he does in a day, and I’m impressed with Toby’s running schedule of two miles a day. All of us mention our wives in our schedule, and make some particular time with them every day. I like how Toby’s schedule—the most “narrative” of our responses and in some ways the loosest—includes a wish list of how to spend time, and how he breaks down short-term uses of time and long-range uses of time. J. E. measures out his life in tea spoons. Ned measures out his in coffee spoons. Toby admits to forgetting breakfast altogether.

I’m interested here to how other people enter into these schedules. As I say, we all mention our wives, specifically. Toby and I are the only ones to mention time spent often with friends. Ned, of course, mentions his children. The presence of these others suggests values. So does the absence of these others.

Toby and Peters are the only ones to specify deliberate forms of sustained, aerobic exercise—cycling and running. I am frustrated by that absence in my own schedule. I am frustrated that, looking at my own schedule, my biggest value—based on how I spend most of my time—seems to be invested in my job.

As I wrote above, I am discontented with my schedule. It lacks meditation, exercise, and my own writing—three things I value but don’t seem currently to value enough to be regularly implementing into my life. Looking at the other schedules, I see that I can fit these in—I just don’t. Perhaps you all see such absences and possibilities, and hopefully you also look at your own schedule and the values they suggest with some amount of pride and affirmation.

Please comment here on other things you see while looking across these schedules. There are lots suggested by this exercise. I’m amazed at how little I know in terms of how to live and how little I’ve been taught in terms of how to make a right and balanced life. (This is why the “Self Help” section of bookstores are so well populated.) How to spend my time is certainly one of the largest issues. I would like to continue some of these exercises with the HM, if you’re all interested, and this blog site is the perfect medium for such conversation…


(Next up: What do you eat each day? How much and how often? Where do you get your food? How often do you eat out versus how often do you eat at home? Begin considering some of these questions, and I’ll soon post on the site and ask each of you to respond.)


  1. Pete

    Shotts- your study on time is interesting to me as are the things you have inferred from the usage of time. For me, for example, the mention of the time with the dog is, yes, in part for the dog. In a bigger sense, however, it is for me. It is mandated exercise. It is a built-in, indisputable, mandatory exercise period of at least one hour per day. A way to meet my needs by while benifitting our dog. This weekend we spent time visiting our friends in Arkansas (Pakistani Tob and Steph) Asad and Rabia. we had a very relaxing weekend and had some good fun doing a variety of things. I hope that we break out the bocce balls in the autumn when we meet- it is a lot of fun. Anyways, my next bit of irreverence: At one point, while waiting for everyone to get ready, I found myself fascinated with our hosts’s fireplace. I thought to myself, “a great thing, a fireplace.” Further thinking made me wonder what it is about this thing, the fireplace that so enchants us. It is still as desireable a thing in our homes as when Prometheus stole the fire in the first place. And yet, with our efficient, modern homes, there really is no purpose other than to fill a room with the kind of crackling radiant warmth that the heater does not provide. Of course, with the fancy alters we build around them, I find it to be a shrine to one of man’s better acheivements, capturing fire and keeping it. we have even given it a “place” in our home. Traditionally, it made sense and gave a home a corporeal feel, a heart in the hearth, pumping out its warmth like blood through capilaries. But now there is little organic about the experience. Push button convenience. I need to recollect my straw and restuff my headpiece, excellent blog, though, Shotts.

  2. J.E.

    My posted schedule is a bit out of date. I have improved upon it.

    1) I’m getting more reading time (don’t mean to rub it in Shotts) as Liz has changed jobs and drops me off earlier and picks me up later. I spend about an hour more in the library each day than I did in April when I sent this schedule.

    2) On Tuesdays and Thursdays I’m taking Anthropology 301, Physical Anthropology at UT. UT will pay for one class per semester and I am finally taking advantage of this perk. Studying for class takes up that extra hour in the library. (As a side note, tomorrow I am to chart my waking activity for class. Every 15 minutes I am to record weather I am sitting, standing, walking, jogging, running, hanging, swimming, or reclining. Presumably my data will be compared with the other primates in the class and primates of other species.)

    3) I have filled the aerobic gap! On Tuesdays and Thursdays Liz and I swim after work which makes for a late night. We don’t get home until 8:00 or so but it is worth it.

    4) This blog is taking a lot of damn time too.

  3. Shotts

    Peters and J. E.–

    I’m glad you found this conversation about schedule and time interesting.

    Peters–You point out the need to maximize time, to synergize needs–i.e., walking the dog for the dog but also for you and exercise. So there are several values placed on any one activity that each of us listed. I also think a fireplace is an excellent thing: Jen and I use ours quite a bit, in the fall and spring, and it has become the centerpiece of our living room, and in some ways, the center of our whole house. We’ve tried to keep the “altar” feel at a minimum, and yet we have a mantel with a clock and a vase of flowers, which does have a temple quality. What has always fascinated me about a fireplace, and any fire that we frame enough to capture our serious attention, is the quality fire has of being simultaneously an ever-changing entity while always remaining the same thing. It’s a paradoxical element, in that way, and seems to me symbolic of human existence: we are constantly changing and yet we are the same person.

    I agree that bocce is an excellent pasttime. Thanks for the set you and Amanda gave us as a wedding gift. We have used it several times over the summer…

    J. E.–I am only that much more jealous, by your additional amount of reading time, by your being able to take a class and fit that into your schedule, and by your fitting in regular swimming. It’s really impressive to me. I can’t seem to accomplish that kind of well rounded discipline.


  4. J.E.


    Likewise, I am jealous of your MFA. Chalk that under Macro Reality.

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