After my latest post about the ebbs and flows of life, I thought more about my day-to-day life. I tend to get stuck in that thought from time to time, reflecting on my daily routine. Most of the time, we’re so busy that our schedule ends up coming together on its own. With the remaining time, we’re free to spend it as we see fit, but since it’s often limited, we try to make the most of things.
But there’s a different challenge I want to talk about today. It doesn’t happen all the time, but we’ve all been through it before. The challenge is: how do you manage things when you have too much time on your hands?
Now before I continue, I should clarify what I mean. We all have things to do; there’s jobs, school, planned trips, family events, socializing…the list goes on and on. These things make up the fabric of our lives as we move from one moment to the next. But there are lulls between these moments, where we have a sliver of time to ourselves that we can spend how we’d like. And despite having gone through this time and time again, this lull continues to challenge me. What do I do? How do I spend it?
I understand that time is precious; it’s true that we’ll never have as much time as we want in life. And while I usually think about that optimistically, it can also be demoralizing for my mental health. I need to make every moment count? I need to find meaning in everything I do?
It’s not that the consequences are dire if I fail in making the most of these moments. The likelihood of someone else noticing this, and calling me out for it, is minimal. But many of us are our own worst enemies, and we hold ourselves to an impossibly high standard. Perfectionism can show up anywhere in life, but it’s always surprising when it pops up here.
How we manage free time is a conversation worth having because frankly, we stink at it. Many of us have forgotten how to rest; to be honest, I don’t know how many of us ever learned in the first place. I, for one, am slightly scared of having too much time on my hands. I was so afraid of being lazy that I over-exerted myself, taking on more than I should have. And while I’m still unpacking why I did this, I know that it was a common response to the culture I grew up in. But this takes its toll on the best of us, and can have damaging results.
How do we solve this problem? Unfortunately, I don’t have a solution. Everyone is different, and we respond to situations differently. But as with many things in life, awareness is important. Once you understand something is a problem, you can begin to try and work toward finding a solution. But since we also live in a culture that doesn’t always share their problems, we have a few extra steps to take. Whenever or however you read this post, I hope you get a moment to reflect on your relationship with free time; I know I plan to.