Monday, July 15, 2013

How I Spend My Time

I’m starting to reflect on how I spend my time. Usually it’s the next day, when it’s too late to do anything about it, except try not to judge myself.  I’ve grouped my activities into  the following categories: having adventures, consuming, socializing, producing, worshipping, and being active. I would like to optimal balance between them all. Clearly, spending 100% of my time “consuming” does not honor my ability to create or to build relationships. Here’s how I define each one:

Adventure involves trying something new and interesting, possibly challenging. It could be going somewhere new to hike, bike, drive, or even roller-blade. Or eat. Trying a new restaurant counts. Or it could be attending a new social event. For example, this week I went to a Spanish Language meet-up that is still new for me. The key is that it took me out of my comfort zone.

Consuming just means reading (books or internet articles) or watching TV shows or movies. It includes playing games on the computer or iPad. Basically I’m putting stuff in my head without having to be active. So it’s how I relax.

Socializing is obviously spending time with people. The focus is on building relationships. I’m learning to focus on asking questions, not just talking about me, or cracking jokes the whole time. I want to engage people.

Producing means I’m creating something. I’m not into physical projects like carpentry or home improvement. For me, it’s writing (blogs, jokes, books) or even drawing (probably with pastels). Making excel spreadsheets or powerpoints at work counts too. I’ll count chores here.

Worshipping is time reading the bible, praying, or singing praise songs.

Being active is simply out of the house and moving around. My gym time counts, as does biking, jogging, or walking on trails or streets - long enough to get the blood moving.

Of course, there is often overlap among these. Going to church is worshipping while socializing. Seeing a movie with friends is socializing while consuming. Hiking a new park is being active while having an adventure.

As for value, it seems like consuming is the least useful. It may also be the one I do the most. I read the New York Times website at breakfast and CNN Money when I need a break at work. When I come home, I might play a level of Kingdom Rush before dinner and then watch an episode (or two) of a TV show on Netflix over dinner. Either I need a lot more relaxing time than other people, or I’m just easily amused. Maybe both.

Actually I’m doing pretty well socializing. I have recurring social activities 3 nights a week: Church on Sunday, Spanish speakers on Tuesday, and Church group on Wednesday. This past week I also went to a movie on Friday and an Art and Wine festival on Saturday.

While consuming is good for relaxing,  Socializing is good for my extroversion, and for having a Christian community to support me. Worshipping is good for my spirit, and for helping me treat others well. Adventures are good for warding off boredom and routine. Being active is just a way to keep my body running healthy. And producing makes me feel like I’m not just burning oxygen for no purpose.

I’m not going to start writing down my time - OK, maybe I will. But I’m trying to get a rough feel for how much time I spend in each area. Maybe I’ll say no to social events if I haven’t been active or productive in a while. And I certainly need to look for alternatives if I’ve just been consuming for most of the day. Or maybe I’ll give myself a consumption day.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Thanks, Accomplishments, and Time Wasters

Every morning I spend time reading the bible, praying, and being thankful. The rest of the day I struggle with temptations to waste time, because I’d rather feel like I accomplished something. Here’s a summary of this past week.

What I’m thankful for:
  • My cold went away after just a few days
  • My job lets me set my own schedule, especially when I have a cold
  • Happy hour with co-workers on Wed, over Brazilian beer, lamb meatballs, and sliders (most amazing appetizers ever!)
  • Fourth of July in San Francisco, hanging out with a work buddy and spending the day with his friends and neighbors
  • Emails from my church family
  • Talking to my brother on his birthday
  • Good conversations with my housemates

What I accomplished:
  • Finished June on-budget (close enough)
  • Opened up to my counselor on some issues I’ve been trying to hide from
  • Went to my first Mensa social event
  • Visited my local coffee shop for the first time - I plan to use it as a writing office
  • Signed up for the audio set-up team at church
  • Made progress on work projects

How I wasted time
  • Watched 10 episodes of Lie To Me
  • Read the New York Times (a lot) along with CNN Money online
  • Played Kingdom Rush (iPad game) a lot
  • Napped
(I think half my Saturday was spent on these activities.)

I’m trying to motivate myself to focus on activities that bring lasting value through learning or relationships, rather than escaping into TV or games. At the same time, I don’t want to condemn myself harshly when I choose activities that allow me to relax.