If I Had Free Time

I’ve been thinking recently about what I’d do with the time if I had six months off work, no income problems, and could just do what I wanted. It’s kind of like the “if I won the lottery” game, but much more interesting.

I don’t know if this is likely to happen in the near future, but it’s nice to have a plan in case the chance ever comes up.

Every so often I hear someone say “If I wasn’t doing , I just know what I’d do with my time”. It’s usually a coded way of saying “I’m really busy and an achiever”, but it shows an astonishing lack of imagination. I can always find way more things than I have time to do, no matter what.

Here’s my current top 15, no particular order. I didn’t want to bring it down to 10, but it’s already way more than I could do even in six months.

  • Finish the DIY tasks around the house: nailing up wires, painting over scratches, putting up shelves, etc.
  • Sorting out my paperwork, filing, and getting my office tidied.
  • Clearing the garden, making space to play, and planting some veg.
  • Upskilling myself jobwise – catching up with the latest tech.
  • Get fitter, do exercise at least 6 days a week. (Have you read “Younger Next Year”? You really should).
  • Improve my cooking skills, learn to plan and menu and shop economically.
  • Drop my son off at school every day, and pick him up every day. Right now that’s too often done by someone else.
  • Adopt another cat. (I can’t find the time to be at home to settle a cat in right now). And if I were going to be at home permanently, get a dog. But I don’t see that happening unless I win the lottery.
  • Learn some new stuff, take some interesting-looking MOOCs.
  • Start writing that novel I’ve planned but never have time to write.
  • Learn to sing, maybe play an instrument. Take my son too.
  • Brush up my French, make sure I stay fluent. Continue learning Spanish and German and try to become fluent.
  • Meditate regularly. Do meditation with my son. Make it into a habit, rather than something I do for a few days then forget.
  • Take time to plan fun things to do with my son: weekend trips, days out, things to do or learn together. Think about what we’re already doing and what we’re missing out on.
  • Learn to draw. Make some stories for my son, and draw the pictures to go with them. Be able to add illustrations to my blog when it helps. It would help with data visualisation too.
  • Create a children’s history book for my son that tells him the bits that I think are important. Tell him about rights, and habeas corpus, and the Levellers, and trade unions, and emancipation. Same again for the moral stuff that I think is important.

I’m sure someone is going to say “These are too big, you’ll never get anything done unless you make small, manageable tasks and prioritise”. Yes, that’s mostly true. But it misses the point.

When you think big, you can think about what’s important to you. Think about what’s missing from your life. Think about what regrets pop up regularly, but you’ve assumed you can’t do anything about. Think about that dream you’ve always had, but that you think less about each year. These things are important, even if we can’t achieve them straight away.

UPDATED: One important thing I forgot in my list. Watching the entirety of Buffy (all seven seasons), as I haven’t had a boxset marathon since my son gave up daytime naps…

Advertisements

How To Be Smart With Your Time

I’ve just finished reading “How To Be Smart With Your Time” by Duncan Bannatyne. It’s not the sort of book I normally read, but was a station purchase while waiting for a train. Much to my surprise, I found it excellent, and I’m applying tips from the book in my life and seeing good results already.

The book gives very much the same principles as any book along these lines – prioritisation, focus, deadlines, efficiency – but gives very concrete, simple and practical ways to put the advice into action straight away. Without having to stop to plan, without having to change your whole style at once, you can do some of the exercises, take some small actions, and see benefits.

I’d recommend the book to anyone who’s trying to juggle lots of tasks, or who seems to be always busy yet never seems to get anything done, or to anyone who just wants a better work-life balance.