A month after I graduated from college, I moved to New York and got a job. With the exception of the three months after John was born, I’ve been working every since. I’ve taken vacations, obviously. But even when you’re away from the office for a day or a week, work is in the back of your mind while you frantically run around having as much fun as possible in the limited time that you have. You’re still working.
In January, I found myself between jobs. Unemployed, for the first time in my adult life. There was suddenly time on my hands. Free time. Lots of it. Time is the one thing that I always want more of, and for the moment, I have it. But now that I have it, do I make good use of it? Am I the marvel of organization and productivity that I always thought I would be?
Yes and no.
On the productive side: I’ve cleaned out some closets. I’ve been cooking healthy dinners. I’m working on a really great freelance project. I’m trying to learn German with a handy little app (duolingo!) on my phone. Most importantly, I’ve been with John in the afternoons, which I love.
On the less productive side: I still don’t put the laundry away when it’s done. I have emails and voice mails that I haven’t responded to. One day I found myself watching Road House on t.v., which isn’t a good use of time no matter how epic the hair on Patrick Swayze and Kelly Lynch. And I still talk about how busy I am all the time.
I love having free time, but it turns out that more time isn’t really the answer to everything. I’ve noticed that with many of the things I’m doing now, time wasn’t really the answer anyway. I’m cooking better meals, but it doesn’t actually take that much longer, it just takes better planning. I’ve been cleaning the kitchen every morning, but it really only takes five minutes, and I could have found five minutes even when I was working.
I have a feeling that I’ve been spending too much time over the past few years blaming things on not having enough time. Maybe the real answer is just to calmly make better use of the time I do have. Surely priorities, planning and patience can make a big difference. It never felt that way at the time, but I think it’s something worth exploring now that I’ve been on both sides.
In two weeks, I’ll start another job,* so I aim to savor all the time that I have left. I’m not sure when I’ll have this much of it again. But when I get back to business, I’ll also try to remember that not everything is about how much time I don’t have. Instead it’s about how I use the time that I do have.
* Yay!!! New job! More on this soon.