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  • Writer's pictureLeo Aram-Downs

A Year In Time 2023 - Dog Walking Edition

2023 was a good year. Even before I take the existential look in the time-tracking mirror (I'm writing this blog as I discover the figures), I'm saying with confidence that the year was good. It's going to be easy at looking at these numbers and assume that they're the ingredients for a good year, and try to replicate them. But this is a case of horse-cart orientation being out of order. This is simply what a good year looked like in hours.

Work - 847 Hours (Previous year - 647 hours)

This is a shock. I couldn't tell you where an extra 200 hours of work was done on a calendar - I've had the same amount of time off as I normally do, if not more accounting for the first week-long holiday I took in years. The only answer I can give retroactively is that I've not worked more, I've just been more efficient. There was a period of time over summer where I had a lot of financial expectation on me, and it was imperative that I turned in as much work as I could. This led to more work-related focus and discipline than I think I've ever had in my life. Conversely, now that the stressful circumstances have passed, I'm back to my more relaxed pace, but missing the income that came with a pretty relentless focus. If I could unlock that level of productivity while in a peaceful financial situation, I'd be unstoppable.

Recording - 26 Hours (Previous year - 42 hours)

Naturally much less to record this year, and that's fine. I'd love to take the recording side of my career more seriously, but I'm not sure I can push the needle in that direction much more than I have at the moment.

That said, lots of that recording is on its' way. I can't wait.

Practice - 147 Hours (Previous year - 180 hours)

Another year, another decline in the amount of time I'm spending with the instrument. But there are two things for me to remember with this number. Firstly, as established, this is what a good year looked like. I can't let this number undermine my feelings about either this year, or my playing. I think I've done some of my best playing in 2023, both as a live performer and on recorded material. If the reduced amount of raw hours on the guitar means I'm building a bit more intention with the time that I do have, that's not a bad trade-off to make, especially if that time is applied in other beneficial areas.

Writing - 75 Hours (Previous year - 101 hours)

This is another surprise, because in terms of the amount of completed music I've written, 2023 was a tenfold increase. Again, like the practice hours, it might just be there's more efficiency in the process, which I can't complain about. The other possibility is that lots of my writing has been outsourced to pencil and paper sketching out of the house, which is inherently impossible to track, so I don't bother. Either way, the fact remains that lots of stuff has been made, and plenty I'm proud of. Some of which might actually come out at some point!

Travel - 172 Hours (Previous year -142 hours)

I'm long past the days where I'd view this time as problematic or uncomfortable or unenjoyable. People travel, and that is what it is.

Playing Live - 32 Hours (Previous year - 20 hours)

This seems to be about the average amount of time spent on stage when I'm not involved in a theatre production. However, I'm manifesting a return to theatre this year, so who knows.

Exercise - 59 Hours (Previous year - 22 hours)

2023 was the year I ran a marathon for the first time! The vast majority of this time is a reflection of the increased effort and focus I had to put into my physical health in order for that to happen, but there was also plenty of other things involved there. I started bouldering, alongside every other artsy 20-something in the UK. I bought some weights and learnt how to lift them. If this is where some of the guitar practice time is going, I'm absolutely fine with this.


Driving - 36 Hours

I'm counting this as separate from travelling, as a lot of this time was spent learning to drive. I only started tracking my lessons this year, and the post-license driving probably accounts for about 10 of these hours at most. It'll be much more interesting to see what 2024 looks like as my first full calendar year with a driving license (albeit without a car at time of writing)

For the last category, I realised that I was lying to myself in my previous time-tracking audit. I said that I wasn't interested time-tracking my hours spent dog walking. Upon reading it back in the early months of 2023, I realised this was a huge data point I was missing. It's something I do twice a day! It's not that I'm trying to optimise or reduce this time, as it's a great habit I've built up. But I had no idea how many hours a year I spent doing it. So, I tracked (to the best of my ability) the hours spent dog walking in 2023. And the results are now in:

Dog Walking - 158 Hours

Turns out, dogs are a hefty commitment.

The thing I'm also very aware of is that I didn't have a spare 160 hours a year prior to getting a dog, so this clearly the end result of hundreds of daily micro-adjustments to allow for a (worthwhile) commitment such as this. Like all of the statistics, this isn't something I want to optimise in any way. Dog walking is great. It used to be time for listening to music I hadn't gotten round to, but nowadays it's a pocket of space for nothing at all. The one time of day I'm sure to not have headphones on or be splitting my attention, and therefore presence, with anything else. If there's anything in my life to gamify, it's how and where I can increase that feeling within my day-to-day.

Here's to another year of living.

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