This has been bouncing around in my brain for a few days, and I’ve finally found a few minute to sit down and write. Which sort of proves my point even before I’ve begun to make it. Here it goes: The world’s most precious commodity is time.
Specifically, I’m going to be talking about free time and how very special it is. Like I said, I’ve been thinking about this for a few days. It began when I asked myself why I haven’t finished any of the myriad little projects I’ve set for myself, like making paper—for which I have harvested bamboo and wolf fur from springtime shed—or cleaning off my desk—which is overrun with mountains of junk mail, bills, papers I’ve been meaning to read, and camera and computer parts. The answer that immediately popped into my head is “I’m just too busy.” And that got me thinking and asking why. Why am I too busy? I had loads of free time when I lived in DC, so what’s different now? And thus I began to list all the time consuming activities I’m engaged in.
On paper my schedule doesn’t look too impressive. I’ve got nothing on a single parent juggling after school activities and extra-circulars. I’m looking at a regular office schedule with the random late night a couple times a month, a weekly late night engagement at CCI, Crossfit Tuesdays and Thursdays, and an all day work schedule every Saturday at CCI—literally, all day. Even after adding in random errands, grocery shopping, and sleep it’s not much. I should have loads of free time!
So what’s stopping me from tackling the desk or making paper; painting the guest room blue or finally finishing all the wash? Why can’t I seem to find the time to get our record collection organised or our DVD/BluRay shelf alphabetised? (Yeah, I’m that guy.) Perception.
I think that’s what stops a lot of people from ticking off the little things and big projects alike from their to-do lists. We all have tonnes of free time, but we don’t see it because we perceive ourselves as being busy “all the time.” Part of that, I think, has to do with sleep. I know I don’t get enough sleep. As hard as I try I never seem to get into bed quite as early as I intend to, and I have two nights a week that I don’t even get home before 1 am. And no one I’ve ever known has told me that they are getting enough sleep.
So when I find myself with nothing [scheduled] to do—because I’m so very busy all the time—I tend to try to “relax” by doing nothing at all. In the last week this has taken the form of watching The Walking Dead with Jake until one of us notices it’s 2 am and we need to go to bed! We don’t normally spend a lot of time in front of our television, or at least we don’t like to. But sitting idly on the couch is a lot easier after a day at the office than standing in the kitchen pulping bamboo. This is a mistake: it doesn’t help me relax at all. The Lack Of Regular And Sufficient sleep takes its first strike at the precious and delicate Free Time™. L.O.R.A.S. vs Free Time™: FIGHT!
How then does one break out of this cycle and start capitalising on all that free time? Well, it has to start with more, regular sleep, doesn’t it? And a strong desire to accomplish those to-do lists. For instance, my Sundays are free. I purposely try not to schedule things on Sunday because it’s the only day I don’t have to work. Monday and Friday evenings are pretty clear too. It’s all about focus and perception. Instead of wasting all that Free Time™ on Walking Dead and “relaxing,” I’m going to start actually relaxing by spending that time on hobbies. Like paper making and photography, writing the blog, and defeating the paper monster on my desk. But first comes sleep.
Do you find yourself wishing you had more Free Time™? Ask yourself if you’re getting enough sleep. Do you really have a “full” schedule? Are you “relaxing” by doing nothing instead of things that actually help you relieve stress and fatigue? Don’t be too quick to answer, do yourself the favour of really thinking about it and see if you can adjust your behaviours to make better use of the free time you already have.