Planners Travel

Time + Money Math

June 7, 2023
Quintile 3 (SUMMER BREAK) is now officially upon us!

Time Tetris

Thank you for your thoughts yesterday. I have been thinking about it, and it’s really just . . . math.

I can’t realistically fit all of the things I mentioned into the number of hours I have available (or really, hours I want to be working).

Now to figure out what to declutter . . .

This website –> well, I DO want to declutter the ads (I tried yesterday and nothing happened (*&$@#). Maybe all subsequent posts will be written by chatGPT. No one will notice, right?

Newsletter –> I love the idea of making this a Quintile thing instead of monthly!

BLP –> I am not entirely sure I will go with the ‘rerun’ approach. I really want this show to continue to grow, and I also have commitments to sponsors. This is probably *not* what I will be decluttering. While I know this doesn’t change the math mentioned above, I could probably do better with batch recording.

BOBW –> Laura and I run this podcast efficiently, and I also don’t see us running re-airs! I feel like we have room for growth/development on this show as well, and I enjoy doing it. So, also not on the chopping block.

Courses –> Digital Detox / Live will be happening, but I think that will be it for 2023. Also: I included 1:1 slots with Best Laid Plans Academy and it was truly lovely to chat with people in that way, but I don’t think I will be able to include anything like that again. (I’m still glad I did it! It was a great way to get feedback and learn what was working in the initial cohorts!)

Email –> That is tough. I *like* responding to emails from listeners/readers. I also don’t like having emails I write NOT get responded to (often I will contact a podcast with similar audience size to mine and get . . . crickets. Annoying!). But I could probably be more minimalist in my responses sometimes.

Book Proposal –> I feel like BLP is just ready to be a book — and I didn’t feel that way before! I do think I could spend some time this summer at least delving into a proposal. But it may make more sense to focus on this when I am not actively running courses, or at least not designing/setting up new ones.

YouTube –> Lol. I can SEE how I could do something with YouTube. But it would have to be somehow combined with podcast recording, and outsourced. (And nope, not adding this right now.)

Available blocks of time:

Tuesdays/Thursdays: I still want to do the 3 1:1 kid days. They are on the calendar and if I took them off there would be massive disappointment (understandably!). The idea of using PL time for this would have been very smart but I have to request PL months in advance because we are so tight on patient slots, and I didn’t.

I will still need to use these days for kid (and self) appointments. We don’t have tons of these, but they do add up. Admittedly I also sometimes squeeze in things for myself on these days – hair appointments 3-4x/year, mani/pedis every ~2 months, occasional massages. I should probably relegate these to the end of the day (like 4:30 pm) when I am useless anyway, or consider doing them on the way home from work sometimes (Laura’s “one night for you” rule, right?).

(Except hair straightening, that takes all day. But it saves me lots of time on other days!)

I have 15 days of PL time accumulated, which at my current schedule is a lot (basically 5 weeks, not 3). I kind of like having an available buffer because I now accumulate it at a slower rate (part time vs full time), but this is a good reminder to make sure I am not miserly with myself about it.

It would not be crazy to add in a random day every other month in 2024 in addition to vacations planned etc. It’s pretty much too late to do this for 2023.

Sleep –> I absolutely cannot sleep any less than I am currently sleeping (probably averaging 7 hrs/night but lately some 6.75 hr nights which is just not enough). In fact, I would like to sleep more.

Weekends –> Yeah, no. I honestly am not really interested in working on weekends.

Nighttime –> Same.

Early am –> Same.

I think I will print out an IDEAL MONTH (as opposed to an ideal week) and play with theoretical distribution of the tasks noted above.

$$$ Math:

Josh and I made the executive decision to not go to Montana over December/Christmas break.

We are taking a long and expensive trip this summer which we did save for, but still – as I was booking flights to Vancouver x 5 ($$$$$) I realized the numbers just were not going to add up. I recognized this is TRULY a NON PROBLEM and as such, I am not complaining whatsoever — just sharing.

We may do an off-season Amelia Island jaunt instead, with an optional camping component for family members that are not me. Florida in the winter is great! Or if we really want cold/snow, we could take a trip to see / stay with my parents with much cheaper slopes nearby.

Travel has become pricier and pricier and even though I do not mind having it take up a large chunk of our overall budget — well, there are limits. You can do all the mental gymnastics you want, but at the end of the day (just like with time) . . . math can provide some pretty clear answers. And better to do the math first, I think.

(If it works out, we may try to go back to Big Sky in 2024 spring break, with a lower-key trip over the 2024 summer to balance things out. Is there any chance Montana is less cold in March, anyway?)


  • Reply Erin June 7, 2023 at 12:55 pm

    For the Mommy days, is there a reason it needs to fill an entire day? I did these for the first time last summer with my older two (8 and 5) and despite calling them a “Mommy day,” they ended up being more of a half-day thing based on the kids’ requested plans (morning activity, lunch, and a treat). Obviously this works less well if travel is involved, but otherwise, there are multiple ways you could structure them to capture back at least 2-3 hours of work time on those days (e.g., morning activity + lunch; afternoon activity + dinner; half of the Mommy day on the Thursday, the rest on Sunday pending call schedules; “Mommy weekend” where you divide into blocks of time and each kid gets 1-2 blocks). Just a thought!

    • Reply Bekah June 9, 2023 at 2:29 pm

      As a longtime Montana resident. Big Sky in March is AWESOME! Long days, great snow and lots of sun- my favorite time.

  • Reply Jessica June 7, 2023 at 1:09 pm

    Email feedback: Not sure about other listeners (people weigh in?), but I strongly prefer no response/auto-response from a podcaster rather than a very thoughtless/minimal response. I would be totally fine with an auto-response saying “thank you for your email, I don’t have time to respond to all of them but I love listener feedback & read all of the emails” (or whatever is true), and then if you do happen to respond or include my email in an episode, that’s a happy surprise. Honestly that matches my expectations for most people who have a decent following.

    Also, you don’t respond to every comment here on the blog, which in my opinion feels the same as a podcast listener email? Maybe it feels to you more like an email is asking for a response… in which case, perhaps you can think of the podcast email as NOT requiring a response, and emails to your personal email as asking for a response. Email is just the way that people send comments in to podcasts – I rarely get replies when I send emails to podcasters.

    • Reply Lisa Lizotte June 20, 2023 at 7:35 am

      As a podcaster myself, I appreciate your thoughtful feedback on emails and blog comments. In my weekly newsletter, I invite subscribers to comment on the blog post more than respond to emails because I want to foster community on my blog. I want readers to be able to learn from each other, and I might answer a question someone else has. Thank you again for your feedback. It is helpful!

  • Reply Kt June 7, 2023 at 1:21 pm

    Love to read the follow up! I have a similar issue with trying to shove more than is really possible into my weeks and end up feeling stressed when ostensibly, there are many “fun” activities!

    The math description made me think of this recent post I read, which made me feel very seen in how I run scenarios in my head for “hair math” and while it takes mental energy, I’m unwilling to give up my current hairstyle.

  • Reply Grateful Kae June 7, 2023 at 3:18 pm

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE how you are honestly sharing about the math not lining up about the ski trip in December. I feel like this transparency is so important!! It’s really easy for people just viewing from the outside to see bloggers/podcasters/ online influencers/ friends/whoever doing this and that constantly and it can sometimes feel like… what the heck! Do they just have an endless money tree in the backyard that didn’t grow over here or what?! lol. I think the same highlight reel thing/ comparison trap that occurs on social media can kinda happen in the blogosphere or other online worlds, too, especially if people don’t always share some of the bigger picture.

    So I really think it’s great and I really appreciate that you’re putting out there for everyone to see that you guys are making a (potentially difficult?), conscious decision about your spending (even though I’m sure you “could” afford it, if you really wanted to, but you are sticking within your set budget and being intentional with your spending). You’re not just getting carried away in what you maybe “want” to do, but are making smart, thoughtful choices to align with your spending values across the board. I think that is a really, really great message to share. Bravo. 🙂

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger June 7, 2023 at 3:43 pm

      I wouldn’t even say difficult – more like like “welp ok acknowledging reality here” 😅. And crying to NO ONE because taking any trip like this is such a luxury, I definitely appreciate that! I also wish more people would write about those kinds of things.

      • Reply Linda June 7, 2023 at 4:13 pm

        I think a ski trip every other December is a good compromise. Then you can do something else more low key the alternating winter breaks.

      • Reply Kate Furst June 7, 2023 at 9:55 pm

        Yes I always appreciate your honesty about how you choose to spend your money and acknowledging that even those with good incomes still need to live within their means.

      • Reply Jen June 8, 2023 at 7:29 am

        We live in the midwest but I have family in the Sacramento area and we came to the same conclusion about skiing in Tahoe…’s something that we will do every other or every third year. In off years we will do a weekend ski trip to some of the ski hills with man-made snow around here.

  • Reply Chelsea June 7, 2023 at 6:31 pm

    We are camping on Amelia Island for New Years after a running friend told me they do it every year and it’s a blast. Everyone walks to a pier and watches the fireworks, etc. Maybe something like that… with a hotel stay? (which would be my preference as well, lol).

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger June 7, 2023 at 9:20 pm

      oh i LOVE that idea but I doubt we will be there for NYE because Josh almost ALWAYS works that stretch. (I am hoping SOME year he could work Christmas and you would think this would be easy, but it’s not!! 2/3 of his tiny current group do not celebrate Christmas!)

  • Reply Sally June 7, 2023 at 7:12 pm

    Maybe Mommy days on a Saturday? If Josh can’t be with the other 2 maybe a sitter? You could do like 9am-3pm. And then movie at home for all 3 kids while you read/nap?

    Also, remember to think like this ‘time is running out with your kids, probably 5-6 summers left with A until college and once that time is’s gone! When you think about it if you live for 80 years you only have to give around 25yrs to your kids

  • Reply Alyce June 7, 2023 at 8:18 pm

    I also was going to suggest Saturdays as an option for your mommy days. But even though I know you said you don’t want to work on the weekend, it doesn’t seem like you’re actually willing to give up any of the tasks on your plate, except maybe the book proposal. And if that’s really what you want, maybe you should reframe how you think about time, and acknowledge that it’s fungible. Is a weekday mommy day really different than a weekend mommy day, esp during the summer when your kids aren’t in school? If you’re giving up three BLP weekdays for mommy days, it’s not unreasonable to use weekend time for work. Maybe dedicating even one weekend day to work, perhaps to batch record BLP episodes, would serve you better in the long run than holding onto a weekend day as a non-work/family day.

    I also think plotting an ideal year could help too. To identify which months are better for leaning into big projects (like your book proposal) and which are overfull (May! September! December! Any month with vacation planned!) as is without adding more. Just to be mindful of expected rhythms of the year.

    You know I’m an advocate for planning a regular day off. Then you have a natural place to schedule your hair, nails, and massage appointments without defaulting to taking up your BLP workdays. Or having an extra day scheduled to work if no appointments are needed.

  • Reply Alyce June 7, 2023 at 8:21 pm

    Oh, and I was also going to say that I’m willing to bet that, psychologically, part of the reason why skiing was such a great trip was the fact that it was rare and a real treat. So maybe not going again this year will help keep it novel and fun, and worth the expense and hassle of getting there. A silver lining, perhaps?

  • Reply Alyce June 7, 2023 at 8:23 pm

    Ohhh, and I just noticed your new headshot! You look fantastic!

  • Reply Coree June 8, 2023 at 4:30 am

    As we say in academia, #impact. I read this post and realised I don’t have enough hours in the day to meet all my end of the month deadlines if I say yes to non-promotable tasks, so I just said no to two things. I’ve taken on two volunteer commitments at the school (running our school uniform bank + active travel committee) and am feeling a bit pressed, but I just need to keep plodding along on things.

    I wonder if you went to a cafe with a brand new notebook and spent 2 hours brainstorming about a book, it would scratch the itch. Bird by bird, in Anne Lamont’s parlance.

  • Reply Katie June 8, 2023 at 6:01 am

    I love the transparency in this post, thank you. We have also cancelled a big holiday this year (Disney Cruise) and I feel a sense of peace and relief around it… now isn’t the time.

    I think some of these comments have some great ideas about claiming back your mommy days, either by scheduling them on weekends or then working weekend days to compensate for them, but ultimately in the long term you won’t remember and stress about those three days you lost… so I don’t think there is a bad choice here. Whatever you do will be fine, even if it feels that your progress isn’t as quick as you want it to be 🙂

    • Reply Daria June 10, 2023 at 8:04 am

      I love this advice-taking it for myself 🙂

  • Reply Katie June 8, 2023 at 6:02 am

    PS: I don’t know if anyone else feels the same but I think the ads on this site are getting pretty intrusive lately – popping up everywhere, really hard to see where the X is to close them down!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger June 8, 2023 at 6:43 am

      I have been on the She Media site trying to figure out how to get rid of those. Hopefully next week I can do it!!!!

  • Reply Irene June 8, 2023 at 7:34 am

    I would think the beauty of working for yourself with the blog and podcasts is partly you can just choose to have a slower season. Summer is our busiest time at work and I hate it because I wish I could spend more time with my kids while they are home and their friends are traveling, in other camps. So I find the suggestion to cut back on the mommy days and weekends to be the opposite of what I’d want. Obviously you may feel differently, but I would love to have a slower summer and ramp back up in the fall.

    I have to imagine I’d feel like I needed to treat it like a business and make it work and be successful but in reality this is your life! Success at any given time is overrated as long as you can pay your bills. I listen to about 1/3 of the BOBW podcasts (and while I’m a huge fan, they do get a tiny bit repetitive! Like every weekly podcast type thing I listen to or read) and so I would not even notice taking several weeks off. You could do a poll or something if you wanted.

    Anyway at the end of the day you do whatever works for you and I’m cheering for you but I hope you have a relaxing and fun summer, not just a productive one.

  • Reply Debra June 8, 2023 at 10:31 am

    I too really appreciate the transparency of the last couple posts. I think applies to many of us as we are trying to shift to a different season, times of life, and balance obligations and goals. Ultimately, I think it comes down to priorities, rather than doing the math or somehow making it all fit in. I would look back to why you chose to go part time at work. Was it 100% focused on podcasting or was it about creating more balance and finding more time to be with your children/family combined with expanding your creative endeavors. The mommy days are sacrosanct. Spending a day with each child on his/her own and really connecting with their interests is way more important and life affirming than answering a stranger’s email or doing one more thing for the podcast or blog. Same thing with taking kids to doctors appointments and protecting your weekend hours with family. I love that you have hard boundaries around that. Then when kids are at the all week summer camp, you can use the time more efficiently to return to what you had postponed. It’s seasonal. I think if you think less about fitting it all in and more about prioritizing the things that truly align with your values, knowing that you can always return to the other tasks in a few weeks/months, it will allow you to relax into the schedule more.

  • Reply Jenny June 8, 2023 at 11:35 am

    I honestly don’t know how anyone pays for a big vacation these days with FIVE PEOPLE. Things are insanely expensive! Having said that, I’ll be interested to hear all about your summer trip so I can live vicariously. We don’t have any family vacations this year (for various reasons, including too many scheduling conflicts) so I’ll just read about yours.
    I think printing out an ideal month is a great idea- it might present some solutions you haven’t yet thought of.

  • Reply Amanda June 8, 2023 at 12:27 pm

    We are really working on our family and financial priorities this year, and after a very expensive Spring Break type trip that was only “meh” in terms of our enjoyment with a 4 year old and 1 year old we’ve actually decided to just cut back on the amount of money we plan to spend on travel in a given year for now. I feel like with this age of kids they have just as much fun with cheaper things – camping or staying at a cabin and hiking, low-key lakehouse, or visiting family/friends. Perhaps the exception is Disney, which we are planning for later this year and will be our first time with kids. But for now I think I’d rather save that money for other goals, and then flex up our travel budget when they get older and travel better.

    I have the same sentiment as Debra with regards to the Mommy Days. I care a lot about my work and have lots of ideas, but at the end of the day honestly my family comes first. Especially in these years when they WANT to spend all of their time with me. I have several new research project ideas that I could technically start moving forward on this year, but my plate already feels pretty full so I am just going to focus on what I’ve already got going on. Those other ideas will still be there down the line, and I do have things that I am working on that are making progress/moving my career forward. I also pretty much refuse to do work in the evenings or on weekends lol.

  • Reply omdg June 8, 2023 at 3:57 pm

    I had my three year tenure review meeting today during which I was told that it would be “hard” to do all the things I am required to do to get tenure with only 50% non-clinical time, or in other words 35h of clinical work per week. Which is true. Except that this is the most non-clinical time offered in my specialty anywhere. So my goal is to work less and care less, since failure is all but assured anyway. Might as well enjoy the ride, right? Hopefully 8 years from now when my clock is “up” I will have enough saved that I can retire or at least scale back significantly if something more appetizing hasn’t revealed itself.

  • Reply Hilde June 9, 2023 at 3:14 am

    I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, but I really wonder if you could approach your travel planning differently to get more value for your money? My strategy is to look for (reasonably) affordable flights first and thén decide on the destination. And I don’t necessarily prioritise thé most comfortable option (within reason of course). We are based in the South of France and do 1-2 intercontinental trips per year with a family of 4, go skiing multiple weekends (The Alps are driving distance so that’s not a fair comparison), do around 7-8 local weekend overnight trips locally, often fly to our families in Belgium and also do some travelling within Europe, all for what seems to be a significantly smaller budget than yours! To give you an idea: we have been on big trips to Oman (Middle East), Morocco, South Africa, Iceland, Italy & Spain in the past 1,5 years with an annual travel budget of around 10k 😉

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger June 9, 2023 at 8:11 am

      I think it’s a personal choice – I’d rather take fewer trips in more luxe accommodations and the destinations I choose (and in fact, that is the choice we are making!). Totally doing so cheerfully and realistically. I do think filling in the gaps with cheaper FL destinations is a great strategy but I also value going somewhere like Hawaii or Montana or Iceland etc if it’s a place I’ve been excited about going to for a long time.

      • Reply Daria June 10, 2023 at 8:00 am

        Ohhh I love this idea Hilde. Airbnbs is my best friend 😉

  • Reply Elizabeth June 9, 2023 at 9:19 am

    Just popping in to say that I love your new headshot! You can tell it’s professionally taken and you look great.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger June 9, 2023 at 12:24 pm

      aww thank you!

  • Reply Katherine June 10, 2023 at 12:43 am

    Montana resident—just popping in to say that skiing over spring break is often better here than December! Generally more snow, warmer, and more daylight. Certainly fewer rocks at Big Sky;).

  • Reply akapulko2020 June 10, 2023 at 1:49 pm

    Your new headshot is GREAT!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger June 10, 2023 at 2:39 pm

      thank you!

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