Let me tell you straight off, this post has nothing to do with diet, nutrition or food in any form. It has occurred to me lately just how much all of us are taking on, how loaded our plates are becoming and how much stress and anxiety this causes. It has challenged me to look at this critically to see if maybe there might be a better way. People will tell you that Bill Gates has the same 24 hours in his day as you do, and while this is true, he probably has at least one person scheduling his time for him!
I am coming to the realisation that this over loading can all to often be entirely self inflicted. The good news about this, is that it also means it is sometimes avoidable. Let me give you an example. My grandmother passed away about 18 months ago. She was a great woman, who loved to see other people enjoying themselves. Even if there were times when she couldn’t join in, she loved nothing better than to hear all about it afterwards. Since she died, myself, my mother, sister and aunt have made an effort to plan regular outings together. Partly in tribute to her and partly because her passing has highlighted how important these relationships are and how much they should be nurtured.
This month’s trip is to the ballet. I have never been and I am really looking forward to it. So much so that I have booked the day off so that I can make the early doors without being stressed. The problem is that no sooner had I come to this decision, than I immediately started trying to fit things in to the newly available time. Wouldn’t it be nice to get an early dinner before the show? Perfect, let’s do that. Oh, but I really should get my hair done. Okay, fair enough, it does need to be done, and it makes sense to get it done when I am going out, right? Maybe I could fit in a workout in the morning? And sure, while I am in town, I could easily pop in and do my grocery shopping! On and on it went in this vein until I got to the stage when just going to work seemed by far the easier option.
I found myself wondering if other people end up in the same predicaments. Do we all keep on saying yes to everything, until we reach the point of being completely overwhelmed? Do we try to have so much “fun” that we end up taking the good out of everything? Should we be weighing up our choices about how we spend our free time just as carefully as we weigh out our food?
As I was pondering these questions, I was reminded of the advice given to slimmers when faced with bountiful buffet tables. A good strategy, they are told, is to do a walk through of the buffet without a plate. This gives them the opportunity to survey everything on offer and decide what they really want before they commit to selecting anything. Otherwise they run the risk of overloading their plate with items that might be “just okay” and not having any room left for the utterly unmissable treats.
If every choice we make about how we spend our time creates an opportunity cost, then perhaps the buffet strategy of time management might not be a bad one to adopt? This opportunity cost can seem insignificant, but it is its importance to you that needs to be weighed up. Yes, breakfast with your sister on Saturday might sound lovely, but if it means sacrificing your one morning to wake up without an alarm, is it really worth it? That night out with the girls does sound tempting, but you’ve only got two episodes of making a Murderer left to watch! Your leisure time is just that, yours, so use it how you see fit and don’t feel the need to justify it.
In a world that encourages us to constantly do more and achieve more and be more, I am going to buck that trend. When it comes to your down time, do less and only do the things you want to do. Scan all the options and be sure of what you want before you commit. When you are asked to do something, don’t be afraid to take a beat before you decide. Be like Bill Gates, have your people call their people!