This week I start my very last class in my MBA program. By mid-May I will be school-free. That doesn’t just mean less time in class and studying and writing papers. It also means enjoying things more because the should-be-studying guilt won’t be there. Or planning things I really want to do because I won’t be worried if my next class will be too time-consuming to add another commitment to my plate. I am SO ready to move on to the next phase in my life. It got me thinking about how I currently structure my time, and how that could potentially change.
Which of course means pie charts. Naturally.
I thought about all the things I currently do with my time in a week, and estimated the hours spent. I even added some things to the list that, while I do them, it doesn’t really factor into my weekly average significantly. Of course, everything’s a guess, but I imagine it’s pretty close to this.
Anything of note? First, with sleep and work taking up over half of life, everything else is crammed into the other 43%. And that’s with not getting enough sleep. While I do appreciate my employment status and a dual income, my job is just a job to me, and that’s a bit depressing to think about.
Taking care of the household cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, meal planning, yard work, etc. takes up a lot of time. I feel like it’s about the second priority in my life – making sure the house is clean is second only to work (because I have to be there) and comes before school (because I can’t focus on studying in a house that needs cleaned). So it’s really no wonder social time is rather low on the scale of importance, including time with the hubby. Although we have been hitting the gym together lately in a sort of multitasking scheme of mine to spend more time together, really it’s only the drive to and from that we spend any time talking. And TV/movie time is usually husband-adjacent.. but that’s all it really is.
Probably my biggest revelation was my estimated 16 hours a week spent on entertainment-related screen time (blush). That doesn’t account for my office job (in front of a computer), homework time (in front of a computer), and gym cardio time (in front of a bank of ~20 televisions). I’m far too wired in. It is so easy to fall into mindless leisure time, then wonder why I never feel truly recharged. I wonder if I could talk husband into unplugging with me…
This exercise actually made something very clear. It’s no wonder that my life often feels out of balance. I spend 65% of my waking hours doing things I dislike, and the remaining time is comprised of things I feel really neutral about (like watching tv)!
In fact, if I made a list of the things I think about while I’m supposed to be working, studying, sleeping, cleaning, etc, it’s more like this:
- Opening my own shop. Maybe online first?
- Planning a garden.
- Books I want to read.
- How can I be a better Earth citizen? Help people? Help animals?
- Friends I never see anymore.
- Immersing myself in ____ (insert random creative hobby here; currently I’ve been wanting to try stained glass).
- Saving money.
- Throwing parties.
That in mind, I decided to do the same thing but allowing more time for things that make me happier, move me towards my actual life goals. Here is my near-future ideal state (because my distant-future ideal state is TBD):
Sure. My ideal state still includes work and laundry because those things are necessary. But I would love to eventually work fewer hours while I devoted more time to planning for my future possible business (more later). More of my work hours would actually point me in the right direction. This could take some real negotiating to make happen, but my place of employment is more flexible that it’s ever been, in part because budgets are tighter (and fewer hours are easier to negotiate than more money).
With school wrapped up, working fewer hours, and devoting less time to mindless time wasters like watching TV and reading blogs (ha!) I could theoretically get more sleep, do more creative things, spend more time with my husband and be more social in general. I also have worked in more fitness variety, some volunteer work, and time to read/write, which, I currently only really do in theory but not practice (sad).
Of course it’s simple, and embarrassing that it took a pie chart to realize why I am stressed out. I started to think about balance. Remember Freshman Psych? Hello, again. Which facets of life balance are missing in my life, and why doesn’t watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer seasons 1-7 really fit in any of them?
There are things I feel are actually missing from my life.. appreciating nature, helping people, and putting the ideas in my head into something concrete. Creating. Spending more time on meaningful relationships (rather than avoiding all people because I’m so burned out from dealing with the few who suck the life out of me). Reminding myself that it’s ok to work towards making the things on my happy list mesh with the things on my to do list. Figuring it all out is something worth working towards and constantly improving on.
More to come..