In my time tracking worksheets and my articles about time tracking, I often mention SOL, my acronym for “Shit of Life.” SOL encompasses all the lithe things we do to keep our lives humming along, things we don’t necessarily enjoy doing, but that we must do, lest we find ourselves in some bigger time sucking predicament later. The writer William Styron has more famously and more poetically dubbed these things the “Fleas of Life.”
While Styron’s Fleas of Life include things like colds and hangovers and sprained ankles, my thoughts around SOL are even more mundane: Going to the dentist for your twice-yearly check-ups, folding laundry, unloading the dishwasher, paying your bills, taking your car in for service, filing your taxes and the many other little nuisances of adult life that simply must get done.
Occasionally someone asks me whether walking the dog or driving the carpool qualifies as SOL. And my answer is, that depends. Is walking the dog something you do for relaxation or exercise or is it purely a chore that you must get done and there is no one else you can pawn it off on? Is driving the carpool more about spending time with your kids and getting to know them and their friends better, or is it simply an obligation that you participate in because there is no other way to get your kids from Point A to Point B?
I’m all for multitasking and if dog walking is a form of exercise for you, list it in your bucket of fitness activities. If carpooling is part of your family time and you wouldn’t pay someone else to drive your kids even if it were an option, then list it as family time. But if these or other activities are ones that make you roll your eyes and sigh and wish you had a personal assistant, then they safely qualify as SOL.
Depending on the complexity of your personal life, SOL can be incredibly time consuming. It’s one of the reasons I encourage you to spend a week carefully tracking your time. SOL may be quietly eating way at your productive hours.
What are some of the things you include among your SOL? How many hours do you spend on SOL each day? Each week? Each month? Please share in the Comments below.