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Having 3 of the 5 Instead of Having it All

I read an interesting article last week from a Facebook link about how you can segment your life into 5 big sections: work, sleep, family, fitness, or friends.  According to Randi Zuckerberg’s 2011 tweet, entrepreneurs (and… um… I’d probably use a more inclusive “everyone” since entrepreneurs do not magically have a more limited time base than the rest of the world) can have 3 of the 5 at any given time, and it’s up to you to choose which 3 segments you want.

I would probably segment my life in a different way: work, sleep, family, friends, me-time. Fitness is sort of a no-brainer that takes place in the first half hour of the morning. If I want to do it, I wake up a half hour earlier. If I don’t want to do it, I wake up a half hour later.

But work, sleep, family, friends, and me-time are all in competition with each other for the minutes of my day. I give sleep about 7 hours. I give work about 9 hours. Which leaves about 8 hours. That’s actually quite a lot of time. I can give 4 hours to the kids and Josh and 2 hours to friends and still have 2 hours for myself. It doesn’t work out that way most of the time, but it’s completely feasible to actually have all 5 things + fitness for a total of 6 things in any given day.

Randi Zuckerberg may very well have a busier life than I do. Maybe she can only accomplish 3 out of 5 segments of her life on a given day. I guess I don’t see this as the entrepreneur’s dilemma or even the every-person’s dilemma. I see it as the Randi Zuckerberg dilemma and the rest of us are playing fuck, marry, kill with our time for the fun of it with her tweet.

I don’t know — time always feels strained, but when you look at the facts on paper, it doesn’t make sense at all.  7 hours of sleep.  9 hours of work. (Which is a totally respectable amount of work hours per day.)  8 hours are left.  Can we really not eat meals, clean the house, help the kids with homework, have sex, grab cup of coffee with a friend, and play a video game in 8 hours of time?  8 hours is a lot of time, right?

I don’t know why Zuckerberg’s tweet bubbled up to the top of everyone’s mind this month, but it’s certainly food for thought.

Do you agree or disagree that we only have time for 3 of Zuckerberg’s 5: work, sleep, family, fitness, or friends?  And which of these do you manage on a regular basis?


1 Wendy English { 03.02.16 at 7:43 am }

So are you saying that you think one can have it all? I’ll re-read to see if I got that right. The idea that it’s a “pick 3” world actually gave me some comfort. When someone with high executive function skills (I would imagine) has the same dilemmas I do it says to me that the struggle is real. Thanks for the food for thought. Now to re-read your post and check out the article you linked in it. Have a great day!

2 Charlotte { 03.02.16 at 9:03 am }

I guess it seems like 8 hours left would be plenty. I honestly think the real problem( which is my problem 100% of the time) is time management. Spending too much time in any one thing can throw your entire schedule off. Think about how much one one can lose being sucked into the Internet, even if you only meant to log on to do one small thing.
Also, please share how you can fit in fitness getting up just 30 minutes early! Because I need time to wake up, pee, get dressed to workout, set up the dvd or whatever…I would only end up with 10 minutes at that point.

3 Jodi { 03.02.16 at 9:19 am }

I found this article 100% true, especially since going back to work FT. When I worked PT, I used to work out every day, since going back FT I’m lucky if I can do 3 days a week. (I’m going to change up my workout routine to change that.) And I barely see my friends anymore. So my 3 have become sleep, family,, and work. It may also depend what kind of job you have. If I worked out of the house, I would have plenty of time to work out. Or, next year, when Michael goes to school earlier, I would have plenty of time to work out. Also, I think “having it all” is a bill of goods our generation was sold.” Even when I worked pt I still did not “have it all.” I had it LESS.

4 Noemi { 03.02.16 at 9:59 am }

8 hours feels like a lot, I do not feel like I have 8 hours, but maybe I do? I probably do because I sleep less than that and work that much. I think what it is that most of those 8 hours are spent doing something that isn’t really a part of any of those “segments” of my life. Like 1.5 hours in the morning is getting the kids (and myself) ready for school. I don’t consider that me time or family time, since it’s supremely stressful and no one is enjoying themselves. There is my commute, which is an hour (total) and I try to listen to a book or call a friend so it can have the semblance or me time or “friend time.” And pick up generally takes an hour, even though both kids are within a mile of our house, because just the general loading and unloading and parking and checkung backpacks for all.the.things and cojoling to stop what one is doing and actually leave with me takes forever. So again I don’t consider that any kind of time at all. Even the first hour home when I’m making dinner and they are playing or watching TV doesn’t feel like one of those times. So I guess that is where I get tripped up, because so much of my day is spent just transitioning, there aren’t 8 hours left for all the other stuff. On any given day I feel like I can have work and sleep and one of the other things: family, me-time or friends. But there isn’t time on a given day for all of them. Maybe I’m just doing it wrong.

5 Charlotte { 03.02.16 at 11:34 am }

Yes, this makes sense. I absolutely agree with you. And I am doing it wrong right along with you then!!

6 Jjiraffe { 03.02.16 at 10:32 am }

I tend to agree with her. It probably varies based on your career too. My job entails me being in an office and being really focused for 10 hours – no lunch no breaks really. I need 9 hours sleep (more than most, I know) so that leaves me 5 hours Including commute (30 min – 1 hour), homework with kids (1-2 hours) , housework (varies), talking to my husband (varies) and usually more work (varies) then I need to read before bed to get best sleep. No time for friends or working out.

I try to focus on those areas on the weekend.

7 Mel { 03.02.16 at 12:23 pm }

No breaks? Even the President takes breaks. And 2 hours of homework in elementary school? The twins are older with more difficult homework, and I couldn’t say that I spend more than 15 minutes or so helping them, usually in between doing other tasks such as making dinner. Are you really sitting there with them for 2 hours, not doing anything else? Their homework is not supposed to be your homework.

The point is that we all have busy periods, but few people are busy all the time as Zuckerberg is implying. You can’t shift certain things — such as a long commute — but most of us can shift other tasks subtly in order to find time for the things we want to do.

8 Turia { 03.02.16 at 12:27 pm }

I agree with Noemi- I think the issue is there are parts of the day that cannot be split up neatly into these segments. This was something that came up in Brigid Schulte’s Overwhelmed where she had someone analyze her time diary and he came up with this ridiculous amount of “leisure” time, but it turned out this included things like standing on the side of the road for fifteen minutes waiting for a tow truck, which certainly didn’t feel like free time to her.

If you have to commute, and you can’t work on your commute or read or call a friend, then your “work” time easily takes up well over eight or nine hours.

And I also have this large chunk of time (around 90 minutes) in the morning between when I’ve showered and dressed and when I have to be out the door with E. for school. Is that family time? It doesn’t feel like it, but I suppose it can’t be categorized anyway else.

And for sleep, I would have to include not just the actual time sleeping (for which I really really need eight hours) but also the time spent in bed before falling asleep, plus time getting ready to sleep, plus time getting up in the morning.

I can see that I do have unassigned time each day, but it’s rare that it’s in a block large enough that I feel like I can assign it to something. When my “me-time” is in bits and snatches of fifteen minutes on the subway here, and a few minutes to finish my tea there, it doesn’t feel restorative.

9 deathstar { 03.02.16 at 12:51 pm }

Where can I fit in saving the planet?

10 Cristy { 03.02.16 at 1:00 pm }

This is very interesting, given the different perpectives. I don’t count time where I’m not mindfully engaged as time in any category. Hence, the idea of 3 out of the 5 is comforting as that’s where I’m focusing my energy.

That said, I’m also realizing where I zone out and could recapture time. I do consider my commute “me” time as this is generally when I do my non-work/enjoyment reading. Same with lunch. Friend time gets smash in with this too, outside of the rare instances that I make plan to physically see someone.

Work is also a solid 9 hrs, but I consider my work to be a lot of fun. Sleep in currently down to 6-7 hours due to illness and family is currently at 6-7 hours (inverse to sleep). So this mean I have 3 hours in my day that I can’t account for, outside of transition time.

11 Ana { 03.02.16 at 1:19 pm }

You are taking the “168 hours” approach to life and I completely agree with you. There may not be time in EVERY SINGLE DAY for all those things, maybe even not in every week, but you should be able to find time for the things you prioritize. Maybe you can’t work out daily (I don’t) but I work out intensely 4 times a week—enough to be really fit. I don’t spend quality time with my husband every night—but we carve out a couple nights a week to hang out together. I don’t see friends every week, but we make it happen on occasion.
Honestly that tweet annoys me, just like the usual “oh I’m so busy (i.e. important) that I can’t manage to do anything but work all the time”

12 Wendy English { 03.02.16 at 1:50 pm }

This post got conversation going!

13 Working mom of 2 { 03.02.16 at 2:06 pm }

Well, from that 8 hours, exclude:

Pickup of kids (at the daycare/preschool level it takes me 15-20 min although it doesn’t seem possible–drags kids away from okay, gather stuff from cubby, look for missing water bottle, empty sand from shoes, etc.)
Grooming (shower, makeup, etc)
Getting dressed
Prepping lunches
Prepping meals in advanced
Bathing kids
Bedtime rituals (which can count as family time, yes
Going to the bathroom

Then, surely some chores must be done during the week, such as dishwashing, even if loading/unloading dishwasher, that takes time
There might also be laundry done or put away during the week, a necessary food shopping stop, gas tank filled
Also: doctor appointments, post office, etc.

So, it’s really not all that much time

14 nicoleandmaggie { 03.02.16 at 3:54 pm }

I could work less and exercise more. I tried that the month of February. Now I’m way behind at work. Yes, those are the trade-offs I chose given the amount of progress I want to make at work. I could exercise more and spend less time relaxing, but then I get sick (which also happened).

15 Catwoman73 { 03.02.16 at 7:50 pm }

I think I do a decent job of having it all, but my definition of ‘having it all’ has changed drastically over the years. I need more me time than I get, but as long as I get an hour or so most days, I’m ok. And I don’t see friends as often as I like, but given how busy my friends and I are these days, we do alright (and as long as we still have a great time when we do see each other, that’s what counts, right?). And sleep- well, I could always use more of that, but as long as I’m able to function at a relatively high level, I must be doing Ok. I guess the bottom line is that I don’t have it all in a perfect way, but I most definitely do have it all.

I also have to consider that this is a particularly challenging time. My daughter is young, and needs me a lot- I take her to school, pick her up, help with homework, transport her to activities, organize play dates, and so on (and so on… and so on…). The balance will shift down the road, and I will get more of the things I feel I need now, but I have a feeling that I will miss the days when family took up almost all of my non-working time. So, my life may be rather imperfect right now, but I’m trying to embrace the imperfection, and appreciate it for what it is.

16 Justine { 03.02.16 at 11:24 pm }

I sacrifice sleep and fitness. Work takes up the hours between 7:15 and 6:00, with commute. Family takes up the hours between 6:00 and 7:15, and 6:00 and 8:30, unless you’re also counting the hours of laundry, lunch-making, dinner prep, errand running etc.. Back on the computer for work on and off at 9, until 10:30 or 11, at which point I have fallen asleep on the couch. I don’t know if I’ve “picked” three, though. I think I’ve defaulted to three, and haven’t made an effort to choose.

17 Lori Lavender Luz { 03.03.16 at 3:30 pm }

I try to manage more than 3 by taking smaller portions. And by putting things in my calendar/ToDo list so nothing slips away. OK, I don’t actually put “Family” in, but I do put in “Fitness” 3 hours a week. That’s regular, right? Sleep suffers, and that’s partly because I’ve put it last and because my body sometimes forgets how to.

18 SRB { 03.03.16 at 3:58 pm }

Hmmm. I don’t work outside the home, and I still cannot seem to balance these things. Not in the sense that any “guru” thinks one *should* or in a way that feels balanced to me. Priorities shift day to day, season to season. The balancing act is…life.

19 md { 03.04.16 at 12:33 am }

very interesting post, and conversation!
i definitely struggle to do all -my three are work, sleep and family. friends time and me time is snuck in to the minutes between tasks at work/home. and friends time is largely online for me, given that most of my friends live in different countries.

time management is a huge issue for me. and the problem is that while i may have 5 hours to spare after 6pm in the evening, i am dang tired by then! too tired to cook, to go out for coffee, for sex even!

i agree with others who have said that priorities change daily, and also, my kids are young -so much time is taken up with bathing them, feeding them, putting them to sleep. when i won’t have to be so hands on with them anymore, perhaps i will have more time for other stuff. my biggest concern right now is that i have no time or energy for fitness, which is bad. i need to work out. if anyone wants to share how they manage their fitness, i’m listening!

20 Northern Star { 03.04.16 at 8:22 am }

This post (and all the comments) got me thinking all week! Found this on life hacker:

Instead of saying “I don’t have time” try saying “it’s not a priority,” and see how that feels. Often, that’s a perfectly adequate explanation. I have time to iron my sheets, I just don’t want to. But other things are harder. Try it: “I’m not going to edit your résumé, sweetie, because it’s not a priority.” “I don’t go to the doctor because my health is not a priority.” If these phrases don’t sit well, that’s the point. Changing our language reminds us that time is a choice. If we don’t like how we’re spending an hour, we can choose differently.

Lots of food for thought!

21 gwinne { 03.06.16 at 8:34 am }

On some level I do think it’s all a matter of balance, and choice. Even as a working single parent I have some time for all these things but not necessarily over the course of the day, or even the week. Or not as much as I’d like.

And I also think that the re-framing ‘not a priority’ only gets you so far. These are all important things. I wouldn’t want my son thinking that skipping a field trip means he’s not a priority; he just can’t be number one at that particular moment which has already be allotted for work. Another day I’d go on a field trip.

22 Sara { 03.14.16 at 4:41 pm }

Maybe it’s because of where I am in my life, but when I read Zuckerberg’s tweet, I felt comforted, and when I read yours, I felt like you were telling me that I’m not doing life right. I know that’s not what you meant to say, but that’s how it felt. Why? Because I wake up at 6:30 every day, drag the rest of my family up, get my daughter ready for school while caring for my one-year-old twins and getting myself ready for work, drive daughter to school at 7:30, go to work. Get home at 5:30 to two babies who are literally wailing and won’t settle until I spend about 30 minutes holding each of them (generally while the other one wails), At 6:30 we eat (my amazing husband cooks dinner), then it’s help oldest kid with homework (if she hasn’t done it already, which she has on a good night), work for another hour or so, do laundry/bills/whatever else needs to be done, and suddenly it’s 7:30 and I have to start getting kids ready for bed. The last kid goes down for good no earlier than 9 (we put them down earlier, but they are up and down). And then, only then, I have “me time”, or exercise time, or can say hello to my husband. If I want 8 hours of sleep, I have a total of 90 minutes of time in which I can do one of these three things, IF I can find a way to exercise in a 1000 square foot house with three sleeping kids. Walking or running in my neighborhood at night isn’t really an option. Friendships are maintained on the weekends only. And even with this schedule, my work is suffering. I’m happy. But I am not having it all and I certainly don’t have 8 free hours per day!

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