I think people hate being bored or idle because they don’t know what to do. What if you were given an obligation-free 30 seconds? 5 minutes? 1 hour? How would you spend that time to serve your short-term and long-term goals? Most people would probably just check their smartphones, idly scroll through social media, and complain about being bored. I used to do that, too. Then I realized, “hey, wait, if I don’t act now, I’ll never succeed.”
Not that I’m particularly successful now…
I mean, I have some success in terms of financial freedom, but I still am confined to the rigors of a 9-to-5, and I can’t be free to fully do what I want to do from a writing lifestyle perspective, but that just means I need to prepare more. When I get an obligation-free 30-second window, say as a program loads on my vocational computer or I’m waiting for something, that’s when I do my physical checks to see if anything’s out of alignment.
I close my eyes, check my posture, and move around a bit.
This helps me figure out if I’m sore anywhere and gives me the physical fortitude to keep on truckin’, as it were, because I only learned too late in life – thanks to those headaches I was getting frequently there – that you may have plans for life but if your physicality isn’t up for the challenge, you’ll be stuck. With that quick reassessment, I can see how I’m feeling to see whether I can take on longer challenges or whether I need to take it easy.
These are like 30-Second, 5-Minute, and 1-Hour advances in lifestyle.
A 5-minute advance is where I’d do something like read, currently I’m about a fourth of the way done with What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, which I’ve been reading in 5-minute bursts. Normally, I would only give myself that amount of time because of how my attention span might wander due to otherwise dry material, but here, through a conversational tone, Murakami casually explores dense philosophy on writing and exercise. I love it.
I think reading nonfiction is better suited for 5-minute bursts.
I’ll write in these bursts just as I’ll write in 1-hour bursts. I was on ready mode for about 55 minutes there until I had an interruption earlier in writing this essay, but usually how I’ll write essays is that I’ll plan the topics out so that after midnight, I can start immediately with the topic at hand. I come up with the introductory sentence then let the rest flow from there. If I have time, like I did before midnight, I’ll refer to a list of hour-long tasks that require more nuance.
Two I can write about are rebuilding my rowing sheets and cataloging CDs.
Now that I’m using a calorie-counting website, I’d like to integrate the data I’m inputting there into my own databases for backup’s sake and so I don’t relinquish all control of my personal information over to another service. As much as I like having their spreadsheets, I want to have my own interpretations of what they provide, so I chiseled away at that before reaching a point where I’d need to think more about my next steps, so that went on the back burner.
I’m picking up my CD cataloging project again.
With my work-from-home workspace mostly configured for my ergonomics, I can use the remaining deskspace and bookshelves to pick away at little things. A project like downsizing my collection can be tricky if I look at it all as one giant mass, but if I just consider what I need to do most – remove the non-essentials – then the rest becomes easy. I spent most of that idle hour I might have otherwise been “bored” organizing my workspace so I can start the cataloging process in an orderly manner.
I re-cataloged half a box, which has been on-hold for maybe six months?!
I’m not sure how methodical you want to get with your lifestyle, but for me, I work well within frameworks that I understand and can empathize with, and can’t when forced by unempathetic others to use their frameworks without solid rationale. I think of it like this: I’m fine with using cardboard boxes as a standing workspace because they’re sturdy enough but they’re adaptable.
Others may frown on the unprofessional appearance.
Then I just wrap those boxes with paper until we reach a comfortable middle-ground. So, too, you shouldn’t look at my three-part methodology for stealing back idle time that is “owned” by others as anything more than a suggestion of a framework for what’s working for one person. I just find that too many people would rather complain about their lifestyles rather than try to work toward changing them.
All it takes is guiding yourself toward your goals to make them happen.
For me, if I know that writing “The Story” is my most important goal, then that will help me prioritize my time toward that writing. Not every second has to be spent working toward that goal, but if I find myself with an idle hour and the energy to use it well, why would I squander it with something that wouldn’t help me achieve that goal? Or any other goal? It seems like a waste but it seems like most people would rather sit in an uncomfortably idle numbness than do anything at all to work toward their dreams.
I don’t know, though, I don’t know everyone’s motivations.
For someone whose only goal in life is to live a hedonistic lifestyle, consuming the latest media, then for them, working on self-improvement to any degree would work against their chosen lifestyle. I think that’s great if they feel comfortable doing that. I’m just writing for the reader that is unsatisfied in life, like me, and wants to feel more content more often throughout their day, and therefore their life.
Writing this essay inched me ever-so-closer to achieving my most-important goal!
|Sources: My personal and professional experiences.|
|Inspirations: During my last shift, I’d done everything obvious that I’d wanted to do, and I didn’t arrive so much at a boredom state as much as realizing I could have been doing more – namely, the cataloging – so I went to work figuring out how. Which is where the Hour-Long Tasks idea came from, then, this essay.|
|Related: Other Applied Self-Confidence essays.|
|Picture: I can take a screenshot of the document I use, I just don’t want to share it out because it’s for my own use.|
|Written On: Written – 2020 April 05 [midnight to “With that quick” at 12:05am. From 12:18am to 12:42am. Gdocs.]|
|Last Edited: 2020 April 05 [Adapted from Gdoc, so, second draft; final draft for the Internet.]|