Doing More Things I Love in 2019

 
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Like many young people these days I have a hard time not working, further compounded by my being self-employed. That doesn’t mean I don’t have downtime, but it’s all too often guiltily snatched when I hit the burnout stage, which in turn can spiral into days of unproductivity. Or I’m spending it scrolling mindlessly through social media when an afternoon suddenly turns up out of nowhere. There have been hundreds of articles, even whole books written about our current culture of ‘busyness’ in which we take pride in just how chockablock our timetables are. The onus of an unstable economic situation that requires us to have multiple projects on the go, that tells us we need to keep all the plates spinning at once, is placed squarely on us; if you’re struggling, you’re just not working hard enough. And all too often, free time falls to the wayside; an unnecessary part of the routine. Unproductive time, dead time.

When I finished my MA back in September, I looked forward to all the time I’d spend reading and conducting my own research. All the time I’d spend with people I love, doing things I love. After balancing university with social media (the latter rather badly) for many years, I couldn’t wait to get a bit of that free time back and turn two major projects into one. But as the weeks went by, I found myself repeating old patterns. Where had all that extra time gone? It seemed to be eating itself as my daily to-do lists stretched on. Even worse, I wasn’t really even making the content that I wanted to because I was doing all the little things, the admin things, and not concentrating on what I wanted to make.

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2019 rolled around, and I wanted to make a change and reclaim free time to do things I love, and achieving things for me. They won’t make me any money, they won’t further my current career, but they’re things I wholeheartedly enjoy. And I’ve come to the realisation that unless something is in my bullet journal, I won’t make the time to do it. So this year - rather conversely perhaps - I’m plugging those things I love into my journal. As someone that thrives on organisation and routine as well as goals and deadlines, I decided to treat my hobbies accordingly, and carve out pockets in the week in which to do them. Now of course there’s a danger here that you can make a hobby a chore, however this method is something that doesn’t tend to interfere with my enjoyment. If you are like me and you find yourself perennially busy, with an ever-growing to-be-read list, or your desire to sign up to dance classes forever slips further down your priorities, or you find the evenings you could be in the cinema slip away as you catch up on emails, this could be a solution. And make your plans detailed; if you want to sign up to dance classes, make the time to actually research that, the time to go down and check out the studio, and not just write in the actual task itself.

For me, one of the main ones was obviously reading. If I don’t schedule it in, I still read a few books a month, but I came to the realisation that I wasn’t reading as much as I wanted because I didn’t have specific goals and I was reading whenever I randomly found the time amongst all the other stuff going on. Since deciding to read two or three books a week, and writing into my bullet journal when I’m going to read what, I’m doing far more reading and I’m absolutely loving it. For me, I try to get as much work as possible done early in the day, and spend the rest of the afternoon and evening reading. It feels positively luxurious to have so many hours devoted to reading books.

I know that this might put you in danger of becoming more busy, not less, so keep checking in with yourself that you’re actually enjoying these activities, and that you’re never pressuring yourself to do them. Scheduling them in is simply supposed to remind you to do them, as opposed to wiling away any free time scrolling through Instagram (or in my case, binge-watching The Real Housewives of Atlanta), and to give you that satisfying checked box feeling when you do do them. It’s certainly not supposed to make your schedule even crazier, so a balance must be struck. For example, I find that it helps me work smarter, as opposed to longer; if I’m super productive in the morning, I can get to that reading time. And it has inspired me to do more things I enjoy work-wise too; to schedule in time to brainstorm projects I’ve wanted to do for ages.

Now I know we’re only two weeks into January, but already it has made an enormous difference to my feelings of fulfilment at the end of the day. Next up on my rota, I want to start scheduling in more nonfiction and theoretical reading, and improve my Spanish, so I will let you guys know how I get on with that. I’ve been drip-feeding things into my schedule thus far as I’ve had a busy couple of weeks; I’m making sure not to be unrealistic with my bullet journal and the amount of things that I can do, otherwise it's counterproductive. If you’d like to know how I do my layout, you can watch my video all about it here. I’d love to know how you all make time for your favourite things, and what they are as well! I’m always looking for fun new things to do.

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