I’ve been busy for about seven years. I’m sure you can relate. We don’t need to talk about who is busier or who juggles the most things the best. That’s not the point. The point is that in my rush to do the clubs and the classes, get the jobs, meet the people, and learn the things, I’ve never gotten really good at not being busy. And now I’m trying – and it’s hard.
My life has pretty much always had structure, and I tend to keep a to-do list that’s too big for one day. Right now, my only structure is my morning workout, the occasional appointment, maybe a friend lunch before they head back to school, and a dog walk at some point before dinner. Since those are rarely fall all on the same day, let’s round up and call that two hours of my day.
That generally leaves me with major decision paralysis with respect to what to do for the rest of the day. I feel this pull to be productive on the one hand, but also a nagging, “Maybe you should chill for once” voice that I’ve actually been listening to.
In my week-and-a-half of true summer, I’ve found a few things that actually work for me… and a few more I’m working on.
Make a to-do list
These days, mine are usually mental. They don’t have a whole lot on them, either, but having a list of stuff I want to get done in a day reminds me that I am not completely useless.
Break it up
If you don’t have a lot of stuff to do, spread it out. I am generally terrible at this. I like to just power through and get everything done. If I do that right now, I’ll have about two full days and then a month of nothing. So, I dust the house one day and clean the bathroom the next, even though both could easily be done in a morning. If I have five errands to run, I’ll do one a day instead of all of them together.
Is this the most efficient mode of operation? An emphatic no. However, for once, efficiency isn’t the goal. I’m just seeking sanity here.
Be an idealist
In my ideal world, I stretch and foam roll way more often than I do in reality. I also read more, write more, and listen to more podcasts. When I’m busy, those ideals fall to the wayside and I mostly go to survival mode. So, I’m taking advantage of the downtime and doing those things.
I haven’t watched that much TV since the start of college. I think I’ve watched four shows in the past three years, and I’m already two shows into summer. It’s not the best or most productive use of time, and I still have issues with that, but occasionally I understand why people actually regularly watch TV. It can be kind of fun.
Despite the fact that downtime isn’t that easy for me, I’m trying to enjoy it with the knowledge that between school and work, I likely won’t have a big chunk of responsibility-free time again… especially since I can’t remember my last one.
How do you deal with downtime?
Do you like to spread out your tasks or tackle them all at once?