Right now, I'm living the scheduled life.
I've always tried to be an organised and efficient person. At different times in my life I have done this to varying degrees of success, but it's always been something that I have been conscious of. Considering that I'm now approaching two years in full time employment, never before have I needed to be so aware of my different commitments and ensure that I can manage all these things effectively.
Using the technology that we have our disposal these days, I try my best to record things in calendars and to-do lists to ensure I don't lose track of anything. And here's what I realised lately: I am so structured because of this that I don't take much real down time.
My most valuable times of any week are Monday through Thursday nights. For me, Saturday is the day that I generally go to the market and the gym and do whatever housework needs to be done. I generally have band rehearsals on a Sunday afternoon, so the mornings are generally taken up by sleeping a little, finishing off housework and catching a few morning news shows. Those weeknights are so valuable to me because they are really my best opportunities to get to the gym, write articles, work on musical ideas and catch up on any TV shows. They are genuinely open for doing whatever I need to do but I'm generally mapping them a week or so in advance. Throw in any ad hoc appointments that I might have on during any given week and all of a sudden I'm really just going from one task to the next with little room for decompressing. You know what I mean; just sitting there and blowing an evening or afternoon unwinding and resetting a little bit.
This is not about asking for sympathy. I'm in a extremely fortunate position where I have relatively few obligations to other people and that the time that I do have can almost always be spent on things that I want to do for whatever reason. I'd assume that every parent or carer has far more things to balance in their lives than I do and I respect their ability to do that. The broader point is that when you have all these things mapped out like I tend to do, it leads to a sense of living a highly structured, almost programmed existence.
Part of this is just who I am, I'm a list guy. At some point I came to the conclusion that I function effectively in routines, and I still think that's true. But even for someone who finds purpose and reassurance in this sort of structure, things cannot only be this way. Simply going from one 'appointment' to the next, whether formal or informal, is a path towards feeling like you are taking component parts that you might otherwise love and grinding them together in cruel and dispassionate way. The end result might not be the flexible, fulfilling life we all want but one where we are doing things for the sake of doing them, because they are on the list or the calendar.
So far my solution for all of this only a step towards something better, but at least it's a start. I'm going to make an effort to schedule decompression time. This should serve the purpose of giving me the time I need to switch off whilst still allowing me to keep everything else in check. It's not exactly the flexibility and relaxed control that I aspire to, but it's a step in the right direction.
On the day that I wrote this, I had the day off from 'appointments'. I honestly can't remember the last day I had like this. I did some cleaning here and there but I mostly laid on the couch watching sport and cooking a few things. It was good. I still felt that I had to earn it from myself from getting a few things extra things done yesterday, but I suppose it's a start.
We all lead busy lives, and most of us have our own ways of dealing with the things that we can manage and coping with the things we can't. Regardless of what your life is like, everybody needs to decompress, to spend some time doing not very much at all. Lately it's not been something I've been particularly good at and I can feel the impact it has had on me and I'm going to try and do something about that.