When I am thinking about how I want to spend my time, there is one question I like to ask myself: is this thing something I love?
During my time in quarantine, I have found that the days have blended together. Before all this happened, my weekends were distinct from the weekdays. I would go out on walks, perhaps travel somewhere else, go out for a coffee, and do other things outside that helped me separate my work life -- which took place at home -- and my personal life.
In order to combat this, I have been trying to be more conscious with how I spend my time. I recognize that every task which I take on subtracts some of the time I could be using doing something else. If I watch an episode of The Simpsons, I cannot also spend that time reading.
There are so many things I want to do with my time right now. I want to read more books, and I want to listen to a few more podcasts. I want to finally start reading more about product management, and read the Paul Graham essay that I have wanted to read for days. How do I decide how I should spend my time?
I have previously made the mistake of trying to do everything at once. I could have planned to read, listen to a podcast, code, write, and do a bunch of other things today, because I love doing all of those things and they comprise my ideal weekend. However, that would not have taken me far. I would have woken up and then felt like I had to get through a number of tasks in my day. It would have felt as though I had no time to just relax.
When I am deciding how to spend my time, I want to think about doing more of the things I love. Do I love spending time with family? Yes. In which case, I should make sure there is time in my day to be with my family. Do I love the evenings by the fireplace where we are all in the same room? Yes. Well, I should try to be as present in those moments as possible.
There are always so many things we could be doing at any given moment. Being at home for most of my days has encouraged me to see just how many tasks there are to do even when you are not searching for them -- giving something an extra clean, or doing the dishes before everyone has finished with their plates and cups. Because there are so many things we could do, we need to prioritize.
This morning I went for a walk outside, and I also cleaned. I love doing these things. Doing the dishes, vacuuming, and cleaning my workspace makes me feel responsible and in control. It allows me to create a clean house, which I love to see. I also love going out for walks -- even if I have to socially distance -- because I am able to see more of the world.
I could also have read in that time, or I could have caught up on the television shows which I have wanted to go back to for a while. However, in the moment, I realized those were things I wanted to do, and so I did them. I did the things that I loved the most in the moment.
Of course, we cannot spend all our time doing the things we love. There is inevitably a task that comes up on which we do not want to work, and which we cannot avoid. However, this practice still applies. You should be trying to maximize the free time you have and spending it on doing the things you love the most.
Today, I am not sure what else I shall do. Perhaps I shall read a few articles online, because I consider reading online articles to be the modern-day equivalent of reading a newspaper. Or maybe I will just watch television, because I have had a long week and I am looking to wind down as much as possible. It’s up to me.
I am not really sure what the main takeaway for this piece is, aside from that fact that, when you’re thinking about how you spend your time, you should try to do the things that you love the most. If you love watching television, go ahead and watch the show you’re enjoying right now; if you enjoy reading books, try to make more time in your schedule to read the book you’re half-way through. Don’t let anyone tell you that you shouldn’t.
In these times, it may seem as if we can no longer do the things we love most because we cannot travel, or we cannot see loved ones who do not live with us. That doesn’t mean that all is lost though: it just means we need to find something else that we can do to fill the time while this storm is raging on.
Perhaps, tonight, you decide to have a hot chocolate (because that’s what your grandmother used to make you). Or perhaps you watch some Frasier tomorrow morning (because that is your comfort television show of choice). These may not be perfect substitutes for the things you want to do, but they will still allow you to do something you enjoy. Life’s too short to be spending your time on things you don’t fully enjoy. Do what you love, and do it often.