On Monday, I posted an entry about how to make time. People really seemed to like it.
I received email from somebody asking what to do with that time when you reclaim it.
I thought it was weird.
Last night, though, a friend posted on Facebook that he was checking work email. Since I’m working on a big project with my day job, I almost booted up my work computer to check email as a reaction to reading about a friend working late.
And that’s not like me.
While I’ve worked nights and weekends, recently, it’s my choice. I wrapped up work earlier today, shut my work computer down, and put it in my briefcase so it wouldn’t even be on my desk until morning. But for a moment, I almost dragged my work system out to check what I’ll see after posting this entry and having breakfast.
This is the closest I’ve ever been to having that knee-jerk reaction to checking on work, even when I don’t need to. So I can understand people being so wrapped up in work–for so long–that they don’t know what to do with their time when they finally take a stand and claim an hour or two.
So here are some suggestions:
How to Kill an Hour of Time
See People – It’s possible to live with people you love and not really see them. Or maybe you always tell friends you’d love to get together for a drink. So why not do it?
Play a board game with your family; spend some time just talking to your spouse or a good friend. Go in the yard or to a park and play with your kids.
The people we love are a big reason to work hard and live a life you enjoy. So get busy seeing some people! No TV–no distractions–just enjoying time really being with people who make your life snazzy.
Meditate – Meditation doesn’t have to be a big thing; it can be as simple as telling everybody you live with to give you half an hour or an hour, going in a room, closing the door–maybe turning out the lights–and relaxing.
Maybe you listen to music to block out background noise and then work to clear your head. Maybe you go as far as earplugs and sit in a chair with your eyes closed and relax. (I use ear defenders people use when shooting guns.) Maybe you love stretching out on the couch and staring at the ceiling. (I’m a big fan of this one, too.) Hell, maybe it’s a certain videogame that clears your mind. (Certain snowboarding games were once my go-to Zen-flow break.)
Meditation doesn’t have to be what many people think: sitting in lotus position and saying “Ommmmmm…” over and over.
Just spend time alone, clear your mind, and relax!
No matter what you do afterward, any tension from a busy schedule eventually melts away.
Get Out – Even if it’s just getting out with somebody for a cup of coffee, go someplace else!
Don’t talk about work; talk about things that don’t stress you out.
Some of the best evenings of my life have been spent visiting friends, or having friends over so they can get out and not have to worry about dinner, cleanup, or anything like that. I’m also a fan of an evening drive in the country with my wife.
You’ll find that you do better work when you–at the very least–get out for a short time.
So do it!
Read – One of the best ways to lay claim to time is to do something so many people say they don’t have time to do: read!
Grab a book and curl up on the couch for an hour and lose yourself. Turn off the TV, go to bed early, and spend some time reading. Go to a park, sit under a tree, and read.
If you write, you should be reading. Really reading. As in “no device like an iPad that allows you to jump online every five minutes to see what’s up in the world,” reading!
An hour to seriously do nothing else but read.
It’s amazing how many writers no longer do this.
Move Your Body – Go for a walk or hike. Put a heavy bag in your garage and beat the crap out of it for awhile. (A friend does this.) Lift some weights.
I’m a sucker for tennis. And juggling.
There are times in my life when the stresses of work and a medical condition make me want to put holes in walls.
That all goes away with something as simple as a walk.
Exercise is great.
Soak in the Tub – A couple weeks ago, while working on a Saturday night (yeah, I really did that…soooooooooo not me!), my wife told me she was going to draw a bath for me, light some candles, and make some green tea.
She told me to get my ass in the tub and relax.
If you reclaim an hour of your time, a soak in the tub is a good way to spend 60 minutes.
Hobbies – I know people who don’t have hobbies. As a juggler for 30 years, I find that beyond strange. I’ve talked to some people without hobbies and the story is always the same.
They feel a hobby is frivolous.
There’s no better reason to be an adult than to be able to do the things you enjoy. For no other reason than that: you enjoy something.
My wife sews and juggles. I juggle and have other hobbies.
To not do something you love is a travesty to your very existence! There are people out there who would kill to have the opportunity to pursue something for no other reason than they want to.
So find something you dig…and do it!
Stick to Plans – Sure, there are times when you have to cancel plans for work or other responsibilities…but at some point, you have to take a stand.
I’ve heard managers tell coworkers that coworkers’ kids will have more baseball games and other things down the line. I was told by one old manager that since my wife and I don’t have kids, that I should be even more available to work at a moment’s notice and travel for my job.
One of the crappiest things you can do to yourself is let other people dictate how you live your life and spend your time.
So if you have plans, stick to them!
Stop Reading This!
If you’ve read this far and have done nothing for yourself today, stop reading this and go do something you want to do! (It’s 6:30 a.m. and I’ve already spent an hour on other writing and half an hour on this entry.)
It really is as easy as claiming an hour and doing your thing.
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I’m curious: what do you like to do when you have an hour all to yourself?