Life Analysis

The year 2002 was a busy year in my life. I knew it was going to be busy and I knew it was going to be different from the previous five years when I happily spent my days as a research scientist looking to apply Virtual Reality technologies in useful ways. I now had the added responsibility of preparing for a doctoral thesis by taking a slew of relevant classes and reading madly to find myself an area of contribution to science. So, I tracked 2002 hour by hour — slotting my activity into one of seven categories: Work if I were intently focusing on responsibilities associated with paid projects; Sport if I were moving locally on bike, with running shoes, or as a part of a soccer, football, softball, game (this included commuting time as I committed to a year of cycling for transport); Teach if I were in a classroom teaching others (at the UW or SCCC); Study if I were reading or coding to understand something new not directly required of the work responsibilities; Travel if I were out of town getting somewhere or sightseeing once there; Leisure if I were still awake but not doing any of the above; Sleep if I were in bed unconscious or not involved in an activity that could be coded elsewhere.

At the end of the year 2014 I had the feeling I might not have been as effective as I could be with my time management. My sister suggested as much when I reported my feelings about a recent two week stretch. I remembered the effective use of the coding method I used in 2002 to make the most of grad school. I resurrected that analysis for the year and coded up the visualization below using HTML5, CSS, and the Processing.js library with a little bit of JavaScript added for coordination across years.

I felt I had been more effective in 2015 than 2014 but still was unsure of my effectiveness compared to the highly focused years of graduate school. Upon seeing a radial presentation of the years side by side, I get a feeling that I was able to push consistently in both years presented, but that the pull was quite different. Grad school was structured by the syllabi and social commitments I had. Grad school was motivated by the dynamic laboratory I sat in for ten hours a day. And, perhaps most evidently, grad school was motivated by the people around me that had similar goals and aspirations they were marching to on a moment-to-moment basis.

Of interest is the fact that my leisure time was quite consistent. I’ve always felt my brain would overheat if I didn’t zone out a few hours a day. Creativity seemed to depend on that free time as well. Leisure’s now one where my brain seems to be fully in charge. The dramatic change in study hours has an element of longing and yet the ability to travel unencumbered has been nice.