Thursday, July 26, 2012

Being busy and related ramblings

I'll confess: I read this article on busyness a while ago and don't really feel like re-reading it. It basically talks about how Americans are all saying how busy they are. And I find myself telling people how busy I am, but when asked to articulate what I'm busy doing, I just find myself annoyed. Here's what my typical day looks like:
6:30am-8:00am--breakfast, read the paper, get ready for work
8:00am-8:45am--drive to work (stop and get coffee if I'm super sleepy)
8:45am-6:00pm--work (I'll leave earlier if I have a random appointment, which happens on a fairly regular fact, probably too regularly to be called random)
6:00pm-6:45pm--drive to the gym or other random appointment (If my appointment is for 6:30, in, say, Hillcrest, then I actually leave work at 4:30.)
6:45pm-8:30pm--gym time, including changing
8:30pm-8:45pm--drive home from the gym (sometimes I have to stop at the library or the grocery store, or something so this takes longer)
8:45pm-10:00pm--make something to eat, maybe watch a little recorded TV, take a shower, do laundry, pay bills, balance my checkbook, do the dishes, etc.
10:00pm-11:00PM--pack all of my bags for the next day, say hello to Captain America, who's just come home from work, brush my teeth, maybe read in bed a little if there's time, and then it's bedtime.

I don't know if this looks like a lot or not because most of the people I know are also busy. Although, I do have a friend who will say things to me like, I think I might go to the beach this weekend. I don't remember the last time I had enough free time to think I might do something. On the other hand, I really am into scheduling stuff, so I'd probably just schedule a trip to the beach if I wanted to go (assuming I had the time).

I would like to have a less busy life, I really would. I dream of finding a cute little neighborhood coffee shop, curling up with a really good chai, and getting lost in a book. Then, I'd walk home, maybe pick up something fresh at the grocery store for dinner. I'd prepare the dinner, and afterwords, Captain America and I would leisurely do the dishes and maybe have a drink on our patio.

But I also dream of paying off my student loans, traveling to Antarctica, and buying a hot tub.  All of this means I have to have a job (not to mention all of our normal bills and expenses require me to work). Which gets me to a maybe unrelated task--Captain America and I need to sit down and review our budget.

But it seems I also need to review how I budget my time.

Gretchen Rubin, over at the Happiness Project, sometimes blogs about busyness. I'm not sure that's exactly how she puts it, but she does discuss it. She's obviously a busy person: she's a mother of two, a wife, an author, a blogger, a columnist, and she's actively trying to be happier, which, to even think about while running a household and holding down a career is a lot to manage! What I like about Gretchen is that her approach to happiness is very, here's what I've tried, here's what worked for me, here's what didn't work for me, and here's what I'm trying next. She never says to be happy you have to do x, y, or z. However, she's a big advocate for eliminating falseness from her life. She's not into being busy for the sake of being busy. She confesses she doesn't like to dress up and go out. She's not a hermit by any means. In fact, she's a member of several book clubs, as an example. But I suspect she'd leave these book clubs when they stopped being useful to her. She also doesn't like false choices, which are not really relevant here, but important to understand anyway. False choices are when you think you have to pick one thing or another, but you don't really. For example, I can make a lot of money OR I can have a job I enjoy. You, at least in theory, can have both, you just have to figure out how.

Anyway, back to being busy. I'm still trying to figure out how to free up more of my time. My commute takes  up a lot of time right now. I have found that when I come in a little earlier and leave a little later, my commute is no big deal. As I'm currently paid by the hour, this is no big deal for me, either, but I could always take a longer lunch. The down side of this is that I'll have to figure out a way to have fewer commitments in the evening.

I had to go to the dentist yesterday and have a root canal done. I apparently grind my teeth despite being a devoted bite-guard user. So I think I'm going to try some mediation. I'm serious. I'd been thinking about this anyway, because I took a class in it a while ago, and it was nice. And mediators sleep better. And I'm currently seeing an acupuncturist and a massage therapist, which takes up both time and money. I'm hoping to determine if I can get essentially the same results from meditation and more stretching. If not, I can always go back to the acupuncturist and massage therapist, right?

Also, despite what Captain America might say, I've stopped recording so many shows that just aren't worth my time. Which should free up time in the evening for stretching and meditation.

The big hurdle to tackle is eating. Everything about eating is time-consuming, especially if you want to eat well. One thing we've started doing in my house is buying those pre-made fruit salads. I'm much more likely to eat fruit as a snack if I don't have to do anything with it. I've got to also remember to get carrot sticks and cashews. I'm pretty good about eating yogurt, and that's a good source of protein and carbs. What I'm still looking for is that satisfying, satiating sweet-tooth item, but one that won't ruin my diet. (If I could lose a little weight and find a way to keep it off, I wouldn't have to spend so much time at the gym.)

And this is why I never get anything done--I'm busy writing blog posts about how busy I am!

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