” The trouble with the rat-race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat”. I’m sure these words of Lily Tomlin have surfaced somewhere in your life before today. But today, being the 26th day of the first month of still a very long year I need to hear them. My weekends are already planned and booked until the third weekend in March. My holiday for April is planned and the plane tickets will be bought within a week. I have deadlines for my Masters-degree to reach if I want to finish it in a year. And it’s been almost a week since I last posted, partly because I didn’t have clue what to post, and mostly because I didn’t take the time to sit and think and write.
It might be irony or fate that my studies focus on subjective well-being, burnout and quality of life. Particularly on the role that leisure plays in this. Leisure is simply the unoccupied time we have available to do whatever we want. Yep, probably not a lot of that in any of your schedules. Do you know what the wonderful thing about time is? You can make it! No degree or experience or qualification required, just a bit of planning.
I am making time for leisure. This means reducing useless or wasted time to a minimum. For me this was moving closer to work so instead of spending 2 hours a day in traffic, I go to work and back in maximum 30 minutes. If it’s not possible to move, try to use the time on the road to enrich yourself. Get cd’s to help you learn a new language, or listen to motivational speakers. Better yet, switch off the radio and get to know yourself. Or pray.
My second key to leisure is routine/schedule. I know, we hate this because it translates to “old” and “stagnate” BUT, by keeping myself on a schedule Mondays to Thursdays, I have weekends free. So plan your time better: make a grocery list and go to the shops once or twice a week instead of spending 30min after work everyday to find a bite for the night. Schedule a specific time every night to do that dreaded tasks, whether it be studying, washing dishes, cleaning up or admin around the house. I bury myself in research every evening from 19h00 to 21h00. Also, stick to your schedule. This is easier if you reward yourself with a treat after the tasks, like a candle-lit bath, an hour to read your book, etc.
Lastly, about your leisure time… I’d suggest allowing yourself at least an hour a day for leisure. This could be physical activities like gym and sports, creative activities likescrapbooking or painting, relaxing activities like reading or music, or simply doing nothing. What I can tell you from last night’s research is this: meaningful activity contributes more towards subjective well-being and has a longer-lasting effect on happiness and life satisfaction. Simply put – you will get more value from spending quality time with your loved ones, helping the less fortunate or enriching yourself, than you will get from simply doing nothing (watching television counts as doing nothing, unless it’s educational or comical relief).
Time is what we want most, but… what we use worst. ~Willaim Penn