If, like me, you feel that you never have enough time to do the things you want to do, you could be wrong!
Another week has just passed with the same old cycle of activities: work, work, housework, cooking, dance, work, taxiing the children, work, cooking, work, housework…and so it goes on and on and on. The week before that was the same, next week will be the same too – or will it?
I always feel that I don’t have any or very little free time, time which I can dedicate to the things that I want to do, time which I can dedicate to FUN. Fun – the F word that we dare not mention. It’s frivolous, indulgent, something that can only happen when all the chores are completed, in other words, never.
I work part-time, just 14 hours a week, for precisely the reason that I have other interests I want to pursue. The problem is my 14 hours are spread over five mornings and, as I’m a teacher, those 14 hours spread into 20, sometimes over 30 hours, because there is always something to be done, improvements to be made, extra demands put upon me. Consequently, my part-time job can feel like a full-time job. However, even 30 hours of work still leaves 138 hours so why do I feel that I have no time?
I gave this a great deal of thought and came to the conclusion I have slipped into routines and habits that don’t make the best use of the time available. Routines and habits can be a good thing; for example, I go to zumba and line-dancing after work on Mondays and Fridays. I do it automatically – it’s become a habit. However, I don’t do anything on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Why not? I don’t know. I’ve just got into the habit of going home, pottering, sitting, eating, surfing the net, and other things that whilst enjoyable in themselves are not always the best use of time. Why don’t I see friends or go to the gym or have a swim or spend some time writing or go for a walk in the park or do some gardening or go to my allotment or to the cinema or theatre or London? Sometimes I’ll look back on the afternoon or evening and think “Why didn’t I go to the gym?” and the answer is that it didn’t even enter my mind. I am a prisoner of my habits.
So how much free time do I really have, time with no externally imposed commitments? The answer shocked me: Monday afternoon and evening, Tuesday late afternoon and evening, Wednesday afternoon and evening, Thursday late afternoon and evening, Friday late afternoon and early evening, and all day Saturday and Sunday. Even allowing for the necessary chores, that’s a huge amount of free time. I suddenly feel incredibly lucky!
This week, I’m going to break my routine by doing things that strangely I ‘forget’ to do. This afternoon, I’m writing this blog; then I’m going to find a creative writing activity and do that. On Tuesday, I’m going to book a class at the gym, try something different, or maybe go for a swim (I never swim in the evening). On Wednesday, I’m going to go to the cinema with my other half. Next Sunday, I’m spending the day in London with my sister, her children and my children.
It’s all too easy these days to feel busy, busy, busy, and bemoan the fact that we don’t have enough time to do things. Perhaps it’s a question of being more aware of how we are spending our time, thinking about what we would like to be doing, planning what we are going to do and, most importantly, actually making the effort to do it. Maybe it doesn’t feel right to ‘plan’ fun; after all shouldn’t fun be spontaneous? But can we really afford to leave something so important to chance?
What are you going to do differently with your time next week?