“jane” and the ideal week

June 12, 2013

laura vanderkam had a very interesting post up today:  a faux log of a woman working a 55-hour week at a rather ‘big, important’ [read: well-paying] job while still maintaining plenty of time for family, exercise, and rest.

in summary, “jane” had a work week that looked like this:

monday: work trip, beginning at 6 am; work day lasts until 10 pm.
tuesday: AM workout.  work [still on trip], 7 am – 10 pm.  a “car” [sounds fancy!] drives her the 2 hours back home, and she arrives by midnight.
wednesday: gets up with kids at 6:30 am*; leaves for work by 8:30 am.  4 pm: picks child up and has time with kids until 8 pm, then does work until 10 pm.
thursday: up with kids at 6:30 am; works at home 8:30 – 11 am, then comes to child’s preschool to do story hour + lunch**.   works 12 pm – 4 pm, then time with kids, then works 8 – 10 pm again.***
friday:  up with kids at 6:30 am – makes them pancakes for breakfast****.  runs with a friend 8:30 – 9:30 am, then work 10 am – 4 pm.  4 pm drink with a friend, then home at 5 pm.
saturday:  time with family, exercise, date night with husband
sunday:  similar to above, but with 2-3 hours of work at night

the comments are quite interesting, but here are some additional thoughts [refer to stars, above]

* some have debated whether the 2 morning hours with the kids can be considered quality time.  at first, i snorted at the idea, because our mornings are often somewhat rushed.  but today i very consciously mapped out my morning and tried to think about what would make the time with annabel more special and fun.  i completed my run early [5:10 – 5:50 am on the treadmill] and therefore could shower/get ready quickly before annabel got up.  then, after having breakfast together, we ended up having time to play outside for a nice chunk of time [~30 minutes?] before heading to work.  it was lovely [and gorgeous out, and quiet] and definitely felt like quality time to me.  so, there’s that.

before 7 am this morning.  she said “owww” which meant flower.  i think.

** i was so excited when i read this, picturing a mid-day visit to annabel!  but then i was sad because i don’t think i will ever be able to do anything like this unless i have a day off.  i can’t just leave clinic, and my job is 30+ minutes from where a will be in day care/preschool.  that said, i will try to use my time off [29 days/year – pretty good!] judiciously and have days that are just for me to do things like this.

*** ugh, all of these nighttime work shifts!  poor “jane” doesn’t seem to get any downtime, or time with her husband apart from date night.  also, when is there time to tidy up the house, make the next day’s lunches [if necessary], etc?  or does jane have a stay-at-home husband or live-in au pair?  she’s got to have some great help after going on a business trip essentially all of monday and tuesday!

**** i am so going to do this someday.  surprise weekday pancakes:  what could be better?  [surprise weekday blueberry pancakes.  or chocolate chip].  seriously, i cannot wait.

additional thoughts:

✔ i’d probably want to run/work out more than jane here.  i mean, not a ton, but going from monday to friday with no activity would make me want to jump out of my skin.

✔ i was so taken with this post that it moved me to write out a fantasy week of how i see things working [post new job/move].  within my fantasy 168 hours, i managed to [on paper!]:

  • commute M-F [35-45 minutes each way]
  • work around 50 hours [including some study time at night for boards].  obviously, my fantasy week was not a call week [in reality, i will be on 24/7 a week out of every 4].
  • have quality time with a. every day [at least SOME.]
  • engage in hobbies [blogging, reading, listening to music/podcasts]
  • see josh [including a date night]
  • work out [run ~25 mi/week and do some yoga]
  • cook easy dinners most nights
  • spend time with family
  • have some time with friends [on the weekend]
basically YEAH – that would be my ALL.  too bad it’s a fantasy!  but at least i could get the pieces to fit together in theory.
would love your thoughts on laura’s post.
on an unrelated note
currently loving this blog.  emily is inspiring in a lean-in sort of way and i just get a warm and fuzzy feeling from reading it. 


  • Reply Brittnie March 10, 2019 at 7:16 pm

    I agree with Beth and. . . her schedule makes me feel/seem really lazy!

  • Reply Marci March 10, 2019 at 7:16 pm

    I don’t believe her schedule. Like you said, who packs lunches, cleans up toys, does laundry, RUNS ERRANDS, unpacks backpacks, etc.? I spend so much time every day doing these chores.

  • Reply Ana March 10, 2019 at 7:16 pm

    Its funny, you found LV’s article uplifting, and I found it made me tired just thinking about that kind of schedule. I think its all about personality. I would prefer to have dinner together every evening than to work super-long days and have more time on the days off. And I agree with a lot of the comments that it is a bit unrealistic that if she’s working so hard for a couple of days, she won’t need some a) downtime and b) organization time to get the logistics going. When does she schedule the sitter that comes for date night? Pack her bags for travel? There seems to be zero time to commute from the ‘burbs to Philly at 9:30 AM on a weekday—yeah.
    What I think is valuable, though, is the general idea that perhaps high-powered jobs—while they come with more responsibility, also come with more flexibility so its not like ramping up from a low-level 9-5 40 hour week job to a 50-hour-week management position necessarily means you lose 10 hours of family time. This is important for women to realize, so they don’t automatically think a higher-level job with more hours will equal less family time–and will thus outright dismiss opportunity for advancement. It’s the flexibility that counts—not the hours or responsibility—and that flexibility tends to improve as you move up the chain. Also, of course, the ability to pay to outsource non-priorities (laundry, cleaning) A reason to lean in.

  • Reply TheChaiMan March 10, 2019 at 7:16 pm

    I work in the city and commute 45 each way. if i could finish up at even 6pm, get a drink with a friend AND be home at 7pm, i’d do it everyday. sorry, but this is unrealistic and can only happen in theory/on paper.

    However, this is a good template to start something, lower your expectations and try to find the work-personal life balance.

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