mindfulness

taking stock of what i do with my time

When I was a child – and I’m sure many of my readers would relate to this – I woke up either naturally or to an alarm (even if that alarm was dad clapping and yelling “wake up wake up!  One up all up!  It’s time to start the day!”, or mum gently saying “Chooky, it’s time to wake uuuuup”).  I did not wake up to or a because of a mobile device.  I would groan and open my eyes and assess the situation – how my body felt, if my eyes hurt too much to keep them open for longer than two seconds, what was the weather like, was I in a good or a bad mood, and even when we finally owned a computer I didn’t think about getting on it at all really.

I always had my Siamese cat Jasmine with me so I would pat and chat with her and her purring would wake me up.  I’d toddle off to the loo, go to the kitchen for a glass of water and look around at what was happening in the house and outside the windows, still deciding what my next move was – and what mood I was in for the morning.  I either had homework to do, playing to do, jobs to do or television to watch.  More often than not I had books to read because voracious reading was definitely my main childhood hobby.  Of course as I grew older I had school to attend so on those mornings my routine revolved around breakfast, lunch making, bag packing and getting to school.

None of this ever involved computers or mobile devices, in fact if you didn’t count a toaster it involved no technology at all!  I didn’t have the greatest attention span, as children generally don’t, but I achieved my goals for the day, whether it was reading, going to school or doing jobs for my pocket money.  I thought more clearly, I knew my objectives for the day, and if things changed I generally adapted.

As an adult, none of my mornings are like my childhood ones.  The first thing I do is roll over and check the time on my phone, check messages and emails and then go through my Instagram accounts which sometimes take an hour and a half – I literally factor this time in on work days so I have enough time to mess around on my phone before I have to get up and get ready for work.  Now that I’ve put that in writing it seems the most unnatural thing to do – albeit organised.

I get out of bed and say hello to my rats, pat them and take photos of them on my phone, get their breakfast and medication ready, take some more photos, get my coffee and sit down to upload photos onto my Instagram accounts and continue liking and commenting.  Once I’ve made my coffee I sit down at the computer and depending on my mood, check blogs for hours before commencing study, or study first.  This goes on all day and into the afternoon until I turn the television on from between 2pm and 4pm to watch three to five hours of the exact same re-runs I’ve been watching for probably nine years.  I spend the evening on the phone, the laptop and watching television, and all my waking hours are broken up by bouts of cleaning and cooking between screen time.  If it’s a work day, simply insert nine hours of work, travel and mobile phone/app usage.

What is this life?!  Many a time I have changed my routine and found different ways to do things because I’ve always wanted more for myself in terms of achievement during a day.  I stopped watching television for a year in my early 30s before it was a thing people did, I’ve implemented routines, I’ve challenged myself to switch off technology, to go to bed earlier and get up earlier and none of it sticks.  Perhaps nothing will ever stick, perhaps that’s just who I am.  In reading other personal blogs I know that trying out lots of different ways to exist and function in a day is a fairly normal thing.  And that’s ok, but I realise that if the way I structure my days and the way I live inside my walls doesn’t serve a positive purpose in some way, then it needs to be reassessed.

I’ve taken a lot away from all the trials of new ways to spend my days and nights, and my natural routine has adapted to include a lot of new habits.  It’s now time to take a good hard look at where my hours go though.  In May I turn 38, and if I consider how much life that means I have left – let’s say another 42 years if I’m lucky – that means almost half my life has gone and I can’t say I’m completely happy with what I’ve done with it.  I want to achieve a lot more, and I won’t achieve that spending 16 hours a day moving my head from one screen to another.

I will not try to be something I’m not – I’m not an outdoorsy or active person.  I will not embark on things that I know from the outset I’ll never keep up, like dusting everyday.  I will force myself to try things I know I will benefit from, like meditate, and I will embark on creating new habits that even if I don’t stick to them every single day, I know I’ll benefit from, like making my bed each day.  I’ll continue to incorporate habits that do work for me and I’ll share those with you all.

I often ask myself if it’s really wasting time to watch so much television when I love it so much.  I genuinely enjoy it.  It’s not fashionable or particularly attractive to say that my hobby is watching television, but I am who I am and I love TV.  I have this discussion with friends quite often and we always come to the conclusion that if we love something that much there’s no shame in it, it’s not hurting anyone, it’s just a hobby.  I struggle with it though, because if it really wasn’t hurting me, I wouldn’t second guess it so often.  It wouldn’t be plainly obvious that I could be doing a lot more (enjoyable things even) with my time instead of watching television.  It’s not even that I have to cut out television altogether – and I see no need for that – but I don’t need to watch four hours of reruns everyday.  I can buy the box sets on DVD and always have them there when I “need” a hit.  That’s four hours of my day I will free up with absolutely no downside.

As of today, things are going to change, but they’ll change slowly.  I’ll trial all the new habits and routines I’m interested in, and aim to spend what time I have left on this earth in such a way that I don’t look back and wish I’d wasted less time.

How do you spend your days?  Do you think there’s a lot of time you’re not utilising in ways that will make you happy or proud at the end of your life?

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