I’ve been thinking about how little I read books, outside of a school setting, and how much I want to read more. But sometimes find it really difficult to read on my own and to intentionally make time for things I want to do in general.
So when things you want to do slip by, how do you make time for those things? How do you spend time in a deliberate way that doesn’t feel exhausting?
Go ahead and share any experience or tips you would consider relevant!
I don’t know. I just… do? I prioritize the things that are important to me. I train about eight or ten hours a week, I read a lot of history, I have a full-time job, and it’s just a matter of just doing stuff that matters to you.
TBH I field this question a lot from people who don’t understand how much time I have to work out, or something, and it seems to me like they haven’t seriously examined their time to figure out what needs to be prioritized. Every single one of my friends who “doesn’t have time to exercise” watches ten hours of TV a week or more.
edit: like most things, coming to terms with the fact that you’ll never be able to do everything in your life is pretty key. you’ll never see every movie or read every book or play every game or listen to every record, and trying is fruitless.
It’s very hard for me since I spent too much time on the internet. I try to cut back on it hardcore, I’m trying to figure out how to keep my attention on one thing, which the internet has also blasted out of my brain. Most of the time I’m trying to move out of my place because it’s becoming harder to get things done. Read in library, work out at the gym, study outside whenever I can.
It’s definitely hard, though. And for me the more things I want to get into, the harder it is to commit myself to even start these things. But I’m trying to push myself to at least try one thing at a time
I should have worked this into the original post, but I think it’s important to think about mental health stuff with this. I have both anxiety and depression and while I am seeing a therapist and taking medication, it still has a tangible impact on how much effort it takes to do things.
I don’t want to use this as an excuse, I have enough time to read and exercise (not to mention those things would help my anxiety), but I think my brain can get in the way. It’s important to think about those things when were talking about how to do time well.
You’re right that thinking honestly about how much time I have and what I have time for is really important and I’ll definitely try to be more conscious about that.
Having a day job can be exhausting even if it’s not an inherently tiring job.
I started becoming aware of missed opportunities to be creative, because I was at work. I’d have a musical idea at 10 AM, write it down at lunchtime, feel fully into the idea of getting home and immediately developing it and working on it once I was home.
And then the rest of the work day.
And then the commute.
And then home, and the only thing I want to do is sit on the couch and relax.
There are certain people who would say that it doesn’t matter. Make yourself start it. And I’ve tried that sometimes. I don’t think I’ve EVER done my best work that way. As has been talked about in a couple of posts above, ‘just DO it’ isn’t always helpful.
In the end my solution to all this came out of privilege. I was fortunately in a position in my career and life where I was able to negotiate myself into a part time role, giving myself back time to be creative. Not everyone is in that position, and I feel bad just saying ‘Yeah, work taking away your energy for other things sucks!’ and leaving it there, so here are some of the things I told myself that worked for me:
Don’t beat yourself up about not being ‘productive’ enough in your spare time. There needs to be room in your life just for rest, or frivolity. Sure, reading that classic novel might be more stimulating than listening to this silly podcast but maybe at 8am before work the silly podcast is what you need.
Accept that, given that, sometimes things will happen at a slower pace. You might not have much time to read, or work on your music, or try to make that game you’ve wanted to make, but its okay if you just want to take your time over those things. More often than not, there’s no time limit.
So I guess the answer for me is that I don’t so much make time as make peace with the time I have and try not to get into a position where I feel bad for not using more of it. Prioritising is useful, and I’m definitely not saying don’t think about the time you have, but we’ve always got to remember that we’re humans. It’s not simply a case of looking at your schedule and blocking things out and adhering to that.
Case in point: I now have fridays to myself as a result of the aforementioned going part time. The intent of this time is to work on music. In reality, if I’ve had a hell week at work I might really want a day off. And sometimes I work through that feeling and realise that actually I’m okay, but other times – hell, I’ll take that time, and what that often means is that I feel ready to be musical again by the weekend. That doesn’t mean having the day off was pointless, it’s just that sometimes I need it to be creative, and other times I need it to recharge so that I can be creative later.
As someone who’s entire life currently revolves around caring for a baby, learning to be okay with doing things in small chunks has been huge for me. Especially for things like reading! Before I would only devote time to a book or a comic if I thought I was going to really dig into it. But these days I will just read a few pages here and there when the opportunity presents itself. Sure, sometimes I will have to reread a section because I wasn’t quite fully engaged. But that’s okay! Going for digital copies really helps with this as well. Way easier to pull out your phone or tablet rather then a paper book.
What @Crocosmia said I can relate to a lot. I’m a parent too, and if there’s ever an activity or interest I want to pursue more, making it a convenient thing to do is a big first step in making sure it happens at some point.
e-books were one way I managed to read a little bit more than usual last year, because instead of playing a mindless phone game while my son was falling asleep, I could load up a book and read a few pages.
It’s not easy when we’re trying to keep a tidy household, but leaving a project out rather than putting it away each night makes it more likely I’ll jump back into a project rather than it feeling too daunting to get everything out.
Buying something on Switch instead of PC or PS4 makes it much more likely I’ll get a chance to play it, since I won’t need to negotiate with the rest of the family for the TV. Sometimes that means I’ll have to pay a few more bucks, but sometimes that’s worth it.
Figuring out ways to multi-task some things can help. Doing some light cardio on a treadmill or exercise bike while holding joy-cons is totally doable. Listening to podcasts or watching streams on a tablet while cooking and doing dishes is something that’s become habit for me.
This is not a possibility for everyone, but moving close to your work is a great way to suddenly add more time to your day if you’re used to commuting for over half an hour each way.
I think that having a solid sleep schedule is important, because you can structure each day around that. But I know how that may be a luxury to some with jobs, children, and other responsibilities. As someone who also struggles with anxiety and depression, I feel that my time really really expands when I just stop and accept that I’m not going to be able to do everything I need or want to do in a single day. Like others have said, we need to make peace with our limitations. Also, it may help to have a planner
This is something thats so hard for me to do. I always end up being so worried about what I can’t get done that I end up doing nothing at all, and that’s horribly destructive.
One thing I find really helps me is reading during commutes. It’s time thats wasted, anyways, so I may as well do something in that time that I find productive or personally fulfilling. When I do that, I find myself a little more centred through the rest of the day. I feel like I’ve made time I’d normally spend doing nothing into my “me” time, so to speak, and feel less anxious about my actual work.
I understand that everyone’s commute situation is different, but it’s something I think is helpful, personally.
Based on a reply by OP, I feel like the real question is how to maintain enthusiasm for your hobbies enough that you will do them when you do have time.
My personal experience suggests three main points:
I’ve always hated and avoided exercise, but I started doing 20 minutes of laps at the local pool and sitting in the sauna for another 20 since June and the effect it has had on my enthusiasm for things in general is massive. EVERY TIME i do this routine I leave feeling great and excited about whatever bullshit I’m currently into.
As an experiment stop habits that you suspect may make things less exciting for a week and see how that goes. Minor alcohol consumption, weed, soda, staying up late… whatever. Just change a habit for a week and find out how it affects you. You don’t have to give it up if you know it makes you miserable, but at least you know it makes you miserable.
Accept changes in your tastes. Just because you bought three broken pinball machines doesn’t mean you are still excited about fixing them. My general rule-of-thumb for this is asking myself this question: “Am I avoiding doing thing X? Or am I just actually more interested in Y?” If I’m not actually interested in Y and I already took a nap, I just go ahead and start doing X (because why not) and most of the time I get into it.
That sounds like a fun hobby. I enjoy sampling beers a lot. And cheese. I feel much worse about the cheese personally, I just wanted to point out some examples that are somewhat known to cause malaise and are often underestimated.
Enjoy your HD whiskey!
On a related note, does anyone else get anxious from not being able to keep up with all the games being talked about on Waypoint Radio (or other gaming podcasts)? Logically I know there’s no way to keep up with the gaming habits of people that play games for a living (reductive, but you get my point), but when everybody is raving about the hot new thing and what it does for the medium, I can’t help but get FOMO. Not to the point that I’m stressing too much about it, just a thing I noticed about myself.
Having specific, achievale goals to help form a habit helped me. I want to read more is vague v I will read for half an hour at x time in the evening is a something more doable/measurable and after a while it becomes a habit which takes less mental energy to maintain. Having that adds structure to my free time which I can build upon/out from.
Related to that just starting with a single habit forming goal, getting to the point of it being a habit and then moving onto the next one instead of trying to do a few things at the same time.
@Navster 1. Everytime I feel myself thinking like that I re-read this article and it puts me at ease about that.
Cutting back on podcasts that are very current focused v theme/genre focused like Retronauts, 3 moves ahead, US gamer RPG podcast or Cane and Rinse.
Develop a strong aversion to anything described as the ‘new hotness’ so that you avoid it for 6-12 months at which point the hype bubble is burst and most of the time it seem a lot less important. For that to work you have to be ok with never being part of the current conversation.
I probably do need to cut down my podcast intake. I’ll probably keep listening to Waypoint Radio because I enjoy it, but it seems more and more that I’m listening to the Giant Bombcast/Beastcast out of habit. Add to that wanting to support marginalized voices has me listening to Spawn On Me, Fave This, and the Polygon Show, and wow, listing all that out makes me realize what a podcast hole I’m in. Thanks for the perspective!
Sometimes you can pair things. Listen to podcasts while you walk or program or whatever. Watch YouTube videos while you build LEGO sets. Reading’s a hard one - when I want to read, I kinda just have to sit down and do it and ignore everything else. Everything is a trade-off; you just kinda have to decide what’s important to you in the moment.
Reading is my current favourite pastime because it’s an activity that demands your full attention. Fiction especially is wholly unproductive is a way that I really like. Reading fiction is just for you.
No shade on a podcast while you do something else. I get my podcasts in while painting warhammer minis.