It may not seem like it, but is having too much time on your hands a bit of a problem? I agree it’s wholly unlikely, but let’s pretend it is and explore it anyway.
We’re all so busy these days – it’s a common refrain. I can’t think of anyone who isn’t struggling to fit everything in. Small children, demanding jobs, night study, caring duties, complex hobbies, pet training, volunteering, cooking, and laundry. And that’s just Tuesday!
Except in my case. You see, I’m the last remaining person on earth who isn’t busy. I like to use the expression ‘time rich’.
I’m not saying I’ve never been busy – I go through phases, especially in regards to work. But I find it hard to say I’m truly busy when I hear what other people are juggling. I don’t have kids, I’m not studying for a second degree, I have an apartment with no garden that doesn’t allow pets, and my partner is great at doing his share of the housework. I’ve just started a new job that requires occasional travel and overtime, but other than that, I’m ok.
Problem is, people look at you sideways if you say you’re not busy. No one with three kids under 10 wants to hear about how long you got to play Lego Star Wars for on a weeknight. You’re supposed to be an adult! Luckily, I’ve developed some time-management strategies that make me feel busier than I actually am. If you are also suffering from an excess of time, allow me to share:
Be a perfectionist
Nothing takes up time more than setting impossibly high standards for a normal activity – like writing a blog post. Think a lot about this blog post. It will have to be well-structured, with a strong beginning, middle and end tied together with an engaging continuous theme. Grammar, spelling and syntax will be flawless. It will be funny, perceptive and appeal to a wide variety of readers. Think of some ideas, then immediately discount them, because they’re all terrible. Go to work, come home, cook dinner, do the dishes, all the while thinking how unlikely it is you’ll hit on an idea satisfying all of the criteria. The best thing about adopting a perfectionist approach is that it’s completely paralysing and will take you ages to even get started. It’s incredible how much time this takes up. After that, you can actually start trying to do the thing, but you’ll feel much busier already.
Have unrealistic expectations about how long things take
I once decided to make a quiche from scratch, with several side dishes, for dinner on an average Wednesday night. I didn’t think it’d take that long, because making pastry is fast. It is, so long as you don’t factor in having to rest the pastry, roll it out, blind bake the case, cook the elements for the filling, let that cool, mix it with the eggs and dairy, pour it into the pastry case to bake, bake it, let it cool (because you never serve quiche straight from the oven), make the side salad and the vegetables, then wash up eleventy billion dishes and pack the leftovers away. Then, when someone asked the next day how my evening was, I could say “Oh, so busy! I went to bed exhausted!”
If you have too much spare time, consider cultivating some anxiety. It often requires hours and hours of dedicated cyclical, intrusive thinking. I’m lucky enough to be hard-wired for it, thanks to some cool genetics, but it’s probably easy enough to learn. Here are some things I have worried about for days lately: microplastics I might be ingesting through my fish consumption (which I’ve increased lately, since I was anxious about not getting enough Omega 3s), the largeness of the universe and my insignificance within it, the fact that people I don’t even really know at work might secretly dislike me and how unbearable that is, and wanting my upcoming holiday to be really exciting and full of interesting activities but also totally spontaneous and relaxing and not over planned. It helps if the things you’re getting anxious about are mostly out of your control, so aim big and vague.
Use the internet
I avoided the internet during the Christmas holidays and it was incredible how much free time I had for hobbies, friends and general life administration. This is because the internet is full of time-wasting black holes that start with just reading a little bit about politics, or handbags, or gender and ends when it’s four hours past your bedtime and you’re mind-bendingly angry at a complete stranger in the random Facebook comments of someone you went to school with fifteen years ago. If you find that you can use the internet and still be asleep before midnight, google some non-specific medical symptoms you’ve been experiencing lately.
Hopefully these tips will help the time rich with fitting in to your average adult conversation with ease. At least until you decide to go for that second Master’s degree and don’t have to fake it anymore. Good luck!