Most of us live in a world with finite resources. When it comes to retirement and boomer blogs, we regularly discuss cutting expenses with regard to those expenses less important so that we can spend on the important areas.
What I have observed on my own life on occasion (and the lives of others) is that we don't translate that equation when it comes to our use of time, necessarily. If we used those same guidelines when it comes to our use of time (an equally precious resource), we should eliminate those less rewarding activities in favor of the things that bring us the most reward. To be clear, I don't think this necessarily means getting rid of relaxing or low energy activities. That's not necessarily what I mean.
Treating time this way has it's impediments. There are lots of outside influences on how we spend our time and in family or couple situations, we may have different ideas of are worth while ways to spend time. There are also things that have to be done, enjoyable or not, to help us realize our goals. And even with passions, there are activities that are less rewarding. I mentioned before that I deliberately pin all of my quilts together in large numbers-because this is the one "non-fun" part of a passionate hobby.
In my experience there has to be a combination of ways to free up time. Some unrewarding activities can be mailing eliminated, some can be streamlined. We each have our own choices to make. Some time back I wrote about the WOW factor, mainly talking about financial choices in that post. The truth is, the same gut check or rating system can be used for our time expenditures as well.
If I evaluate what is important to me in daily life, my primary rewards come from my art (and craft), socializing with family and friends, church and volunteer work. A close second would be learning and reading. Travel and exploration are A list activities but not daily (and within travel I apply the same principles). Are there other activities I enjoy on occasion? Of course. As are there activities that need to be done simply by necessity. Yes. My goal though, is to spend most of my time doing those things on the a list. How do I get to that time?
- Exercise is a requirement but not a joy. I apologize to all those folks who love exercise. To the woman out there who wants to tell me that if I do it enough I will become addicted, that I cannot live without it... My answer, in the words of today's generation is..no! Exercise is necessary to my health and well being. A means to an end. My solution? A couple times a week of water aerobics in a therapy pool and walking my dogs (which falls under time spent with family in my book).
- I don't love to cook, and in fact afternoon is when I tend to be hitting my stride when it comes to creative ideas. I do enjoy good food, and will not resort to fast food or take out. My solution? Simple meals using deli ingredients, cooking twice on the weekends, and the friendly neighborhood slow cooker. I consider baking and preserving to be artistic.
- I don't love yard work. I actually really do not love yard work. I appreciate a nice patio and yard, but not enough to spend the time maintaining growing items. I was prepared to eliminate this time-suck from my life and life with a patio. I now share a home with someone who LOVES spending time in the yard. While I went to church, brunch and watched football, she raked swept and brought a trunk full of yard art to the house-by choice.
- I love the "decor" and arranging part of the inside of the home. I really, really, really don't love the maintenance part. Before you say I sound like everyone else, be aware that there are people who LIKE to mop their floors twice I day. I have met them and they are happy, fulfilled people. That is not me. In a different world I had a housekeeper to take care of this time issue. Now, I do the minimum and do tasks when I do other things. Except for vacuuming and basic dusting (I do have multiple dogs, after all), I rarely have specific cleaning time. My house is clean but you cannot eat off the floor.
- I do enjoy television as well as movies. I am not one of those folks who think that television is all bad, or that there is nothing but junk on TV. As I type this I am watching the show The Blacklist, a new addiction. However, I never, ever schedule my life around television. I save those few shows I watch each week for those times when I am completely at low on my body clock. I never watch television except for the evening or Sunday afternoon and then only on those days when going outside is not the optimum.
- When it comes to travel, I love the journey as well as the end result. I enjoy the walking and outside touring greatly. I enjoy the entertainment and culture aspect also, but to a lesser extent. The inside of tourist sights are the bottom of the list. To that end, I take my can and spend most of my time walking a city or riding the trusty double decker buses and harbor cruises. I schedule a few indoor must sees per trip. I travel unscheduled and do not make "reservations" or committment on road trips except for a few required places or end destinations. I have yet to sleep in a ditch. For the same reason, I fly when I go over open water and at no other time. I find the entire airline travel experience depressing and claustrophobic. I am willing to sacrifice time in a car for speedier travel.
- I enjoy socialization, but I make sure it is on my terms, and usually with hobby related friends, family or church pals. I spent many years living in an "entertainment required" culture-the kind where I wore formals and cocktail dressed more often than I care to admit. I appreciate that some folks who do this less enjoy it. I have no problem saying no to any such obligation unless it is a fundraising committment where I can be of direct assistance.
- I enjoy eating out. I've shared more than once that when it comes to food I am a gourmet snob but not a gourmet cook (and have accepted I never will be). To whit, avoid eating out for escapism and for socialization for the most part. I save those eating occasions for the really, really good stuff-food network chefs and above.
- Finally, I don't spent my time on organizational activities (financial or otherwise). Some folks like doing organizational things. Some folks feel it necessary to have a smooth running life. I have never felt either (and had a husband who felt the same). I do very little "planning" except for a tiny calendar for appointments and travel dates. I don't own a to do list other than for errands. Other folks might see this as chaotic. I see it as a natural flow. Admittedly I am not a person who needs to be scheduled all day or be at a loss. I have a sister in law who is the opposite and that works for her. I am ALWAYS able to find something to do or decide to do something either constructive or enjoyable. My take on financials tends to be the same. I track rather than budget and make forward decisions based on those records. I am not a micro manager in any part of my life.
When one looks at this list, some of the things I eliminate from my life have to do with finances AND with time, but some do not. My eating out budget has not gone down as such. Instead of twenty five dollars twice a month, it's a hundred dollars or more a dish quarterly, for example (Yes, the food at a hundred dollar restaurant is better than at a twenty five dollar restaurant. NO, the twenty five dollar restaurant is not five times better than home cooking-based on the food). I travel by car not because of expense but because I hate flying. Sometimes I come out ahead, sometimes not. Each drive between Denver and Dallas requires to overnights and all that entails, plus at least two fill ups. Doing the math and booking the right time, I could on occasion fly quicker.
Are you spending time according to what is important to you??