Our days are packed full of so many activities and tasks and obligations. Since our planet shows no likelihood of suddenly morphing to a thirty-six hour day, and since most of us don’t get enough sleep to begin with and can’t cut out any more, in order to find more time for things, you have to take a look at all those activities and tasks and obligations and ask yourself this:
Am I getting something of value out of doing this?
Now there are things we do because we have to, even though we don’t want to.
- Evil Day Job. I’m not getting in any way emotionally or intellectually fulfilled by this, but I am getting a paycheck that enables me to pay my bills. So there’s the value add.
- I’m not what you’d call ecstatic about doing laundry every week, but I get the benefit of clean clothes. Value add.
- Menu-planning. Sometimes my brain just doesn’t want to work on it, but it enables me to remember to use up the groceries I’ve bought before they spoil and keep my nutrition and calories under control.
But let’s talk about the things we do because we kinda sorta want to that may just be dragging us down.
- Reading blogs. Now as writers this is something we are encouraged to do. Read and comment thoughtfully on other people’s blogs. And no question, this CAN be a great thing to do. My comments on Kristen Lamb’s blog is how my agent, the Magnificent Laurie McLean, found me. But there’s a fine line between useful and time-suck. I used to subscribe to a zillion (very technical number there) blogs. My RSS feed reader was crazy full. And eventually, it got to the point where I was barely skimming all these posts, and even ultimately would just mark all as read without even looking. Because I was, for a while there, spending MORE THAN AN HOUR a day reading blogs. And you know what I figured out? For every diamond in the ruff, awesome post I read, there were 30 others that were rehashing the same old same old. That was not a value add. Ultimately I got rid of my feed reader, subscribed to about 5 friends’ blogs via email, and began to rely on my huge Twitter community to tell me about those diamond in the ruff posts.
- Watching TV. Now I am the first to admit that there are a lot of shows I adore and love. Bones. NCIS. Royal Pains. In Plain Sight. Leverage. These are part of my evening routine and the time I spend with hubs. There are other shows I also love that he doesn’t really care about. Know what? I mostly don’t watch those. They are, for the most part, just a reason to turn off my brain. And while that’s a good thing to a point, usually they are distracting from other things I really need to be doing–like writing.
- Magazines. I have a lot of magazines. Cooking magazines in particular. Taste of Home. Simple and Delicious. Southern Living. Cooking Light. I love them because I love food and I’m always looking for new stuff to try. These I can flip through pretty quickly, tagging the recipes I want to try. But I used to have a bunch of other magazines. The kind you actually read cover to cover. I wound up letting all those subscriptions lapse because half the time they just wound up sitting around collecting dust. They were not a value add for the time they took up.
Everybody has their own list of stuff that takes time. PTA. Being troop leader. Some committee or other. It’s time to go through your list of whatever it is and decide whether you’re really getting anything of value out of the activity. If you’re not, axe it.