Today I’ve been reflecting on time and how, when you work 40+ hours a week, there never seems to be enough of it. I’m sure this is a common, maybe (probably?) universal, feeling for people in all situations, ‘working’ or not, but my situation is the one where I have experience born from something other than my imagination.
Here’s about how it breaks down:
Monday through Friday
5:30am – 8:30am – wake up, take care of pets, exercise, shower, breakfast, get to work
8:30am – 5:00/6:00pm – work
5:00/6:00pm – 6:30/7:30pm – go home, make and have dinner, watch an episode of a TV show, take care of pets
6:30/7:30pm – 9:00pm – do whatever I want, broken up by more taking care of pets
9:00pm – 10:00pm – wind down for bed and go to sleep
Sleep in, run errands, meal prep, take care of pets, laundry, cleaning, all before going to bed at 10:00pm
Of course there are fluctuations. Sometimes I work more overtime to get things done. Sometimes I leave work early to go to a concert, to go visit friends and/or family in Fresno or the Bay Area, or to hang out with a friend visiting me from Fresno. Sometimes I skip the TV show that usually serves as a mental reset after work in favor of having more time to read, write, listen to an audiobook, or whatever else I may feel like doing. Sometimes I stay up late to finish the scene I’m writing or reading, or because I need more time to consciously reset before sleep and the next day.
It’s also not as clear cut as the above routines make it seem. I listen to a lot of audiobooks. I can do that while taking care of pets, exercising, showering, and driving. I love stories, and allowing myself to fall in love with audiobooks has let me experience them so much more than I otherwise would if I relied solely on reading.
Still, feeling like I don’t have enough time is common. Perhaps as a natural consequence, something that irritates me enormously is having my free time infringed upon. Enter one of the most annoying things about having a dog: people will insist on waylaying me into conversations I don’t really want to have. I’m going to be blunt. I’m not outside so my dog can go potty in order to talk to people. I’m not out walking my dog to talk to people. Basically, unless you see me in a dog park, I’m not out with my dog to talk to people. I fervently wish people picked up on the subtle clues of my taking my phone out of my pocket, pressing something on its screen, removing headphones from my ears, and asking them to repeat what they said. Let me be clear: I did not get a dog to increase my interaction with strangers.
Do I always find talking to strangers while out with my dog frustrating? No, of course not. My downstairs neighbors are often delightful and it can cheer me up to talk with them because it gets me out of my head. They’re not strangers anymore. Does that mean I’m always happy to run into them when I’m just trying to take my dog out to pee and poop? NO. I’m an introvert and I have a complicated relationship with people taking me out of my head when I haven’t prepared for it.
So what do you do when you have so little time, comparatively, to enjoy the things that ignite your passions? How do you let go of the frustration that can arise when people interfere with the way you wanted to spend your evening? How do you maximize your time? Do you stay up late? That doesn’t work for me. I don’t do well on little sleep and it doesn’t seem like sleep should be the thing I have to sacrifice. Sometimes, it still happens, but sometimes it doesn’t feel like there’s another place to make up the time to get something done. Do you forgo exercising so you can use that time to write? Do you stop sleeping in on the weekends, even though you somehow always feel sleep-deprived?
I don’t have solid answers. I try to be flexible. I try to let go of expectations. I vent to friends about the people who interrupt my audiobooks so they can talk to me about how cute my dog is, about their dog, about breeds and house breaking and whether it’s hot or cold out. I try to be open to last-minute plans with friends because friends are wonderful. But I can’t deny that I often fantasize about having a DeLorean, a ship to fly around the sun in, a Time Turner, or a TARDIS.
To lighten the mood, my First Sentence today is tangentially related. Written 2/8/2013:
It probably wasn’t the smartest idea. Okay, it definitely wasn’t the smartest idea. I just didn’t know what else to do! I was nervous! My wedding was in two hours and I couldn’t sit still! So I went for a run. And got lost.
How is it related, you may ask? Well, being lost certainly interferes with how you meant to spend your time!