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  • Leo Aram-Downs

A Year in Time - 2022

In an attempt to get myself to write more, I thought I'd start by sticking to what I know.


I took a year off my end-of-year blog posts for no reason in particular, but I thought it would be a good exercise in consistency to write a summary of my time-tracking data that I've accrued through the toggl app this year. It's been a therapeutic and insightful process to have a receipt of the hours spent on different things. It keeps the self-romanticising part of your brain in check and helps give you a general sense of ownership and control of your time. It can also be a harrowing look in the mirror that might be necessary. It's been both for me at different points. Regardless, it's something I'd strongly recommend experimenting with!


All that aside, how did I do?





Work - 620 Hours (previous year - 647)


While this may only look like ~30 hour discrepancy I can't account for, I was all but absent from my regular job for the whole of December 2021 while working on a show, which makes this much more puzzling. At work, I had a busier 11 months last year than I had 12 months this year. Not that this is an unwelcome change - my work has been more diverse this year which might be an explanation for it. Either way, that number going down and my financial situation staying the same is a very welcome change if I can keep that trend going. As for the diversification of work, there might be a good explanation of this:


Recording - 42 hours (new category)


2022 was the year of recording becoming more commonplace, especially remotely. Theatre productions, SoundBetter clients, one-off pieces of recording for people, all got put in this category. This wasn't recording my own music (categorised under *writing*), this was just stuff I was hired to do separately. This can certainly explain a slight change in the regular work hours. This has also resulted in much more guitar playing in a professional capacity, which might explain the next category:


Practice - 180 hours (previous year - 260 hours)


Another big downward trend. 80 less hours of raw instrumental practice is not an insignificant amount. That's a lot of potential progress that ostensibly didn't happen. However, I like to think that this is a good change in two respects; firstly, that my practice routine is getting more efficient as I internalise and develop more skills, and also that I'm putting more hours into other areas of my craft that might otherwise have been atrophying at the expense of just guitar playing. My belief is that my numbers will back this up.


Writing - 101 hours (previous year - 75 hours)


This is one example of a small change in priority. My assumption is that many times this year, I had the choice to sit down and play guitar or work on music, and more often chose the latter. Again, a welcome change generally. I've made a _ton_ of stuff that I'm really proud of, and can't wait to release in some capacity. If time tracking has taught me anything, it's that activities can't always be additive. At some point, you need to start making trade-offs depending on what your current priorities are.


Travel - 142 hours (previous year - 164 hours)


I used to view travelling as my mortal enemy. Taking me away from my enjoyable, productive space and putting me into obligations and distractions. Obviously this isn't the case, and my judgment has probably been clouded previously by anxieties about moving to a new city five years ago, but now that I'm settled and accepting that this is the normal median as opposed to a freak occurrence, I've certainly found the balance. Here's to more enjoyable, purposeful travel!


Playing Live - 20 hours (previous year - 91 hours)


This could be interpreted as a shocking drop, but being involved in a pantomime production last year certainly inflated my numbers for 2021. This year, panto was done all remotely, once, and logged under the aforementioned recording hours. Another trade-off hours-wise I'm happy to make! I played lots of great shows this year (and I'm also writing this mere days before my classical music debut which I'm super excited for) so I'm happy this time was still spent valuably.


Exercise - 22 hours (previous year -23 hours)


This is wild. On the one hand, I've been a very consistent runner the last couple of years, which I'm happy about. On the other hand, this year I've been training for a marathon, and to not see a decent uptick in exercise is mildly example. The race is in April, so I'm hoping to have a much better toggl receipt next year!



Conclusion


Out of all the major categories I'm tracking, only one category has seen a significant increase. Had I been in a different place mentally I'd be very concerned about where my productive time is going (even though realistically I know that my dog has eaten a decent chunk of those hours) but overall this is a decent trend. Things are levelling out, and I'm starting to get a real sense of what a comfortable number is for all of these categories. It also means that I'm starting to take my foot off the accelerator slightly and make time for other things. I've played a heap of video games this year, watched films I've always been meaning to, met new friends, had profound experiences that don't fit in any of the categories I track. And that's the thing, I don't feel the need to track that unstructured time. It wouldn't be useful data to know how much time I spent playing Slay the Spire or swimming in the sea, it's much more important that I did both of those things and was present for them.


This was a year in time. Thanks for reading.

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