Monday, October 28, 2013

Free time activities, take two.

 So it's been almost 6 months to the day since I posted about the reorganization of my hobbies & free time. It went pretty well overall. I decided it's time to switch it up, with a few lessons learned:
  1. 3 months is too short. 6 months seemed better, although I may need longer for some projects/hobbies.
  2. I think it might be a good idea to have some specific goals for each hobby/project.
  3. I have to be more realistic about the amount of time I actually have to do things, especially when I'm not including in my list things like roller derby, which take up an enormous amount of the free space I have in my week.
  4. I need to “pay myself first” so to speak, with my time. I have a tendency to sign up to do extra tasks/activities and just generally put a lot on my plate, but I think this round I want to focus on sticking to the plans I make and only taking on extra stuff if it fits around my own goals.

    I made a giant list of possible hobbies I wanted to switch off to, but narrowed it down greatly. Also, I decided to add some things to this list which I originally didn't think of as hobbies, or stuff I needed to think of as free time activities but that I want to be doing on a regular basis. So for instance, even though roller derby and working out are hobbies and take up a big chunk of my time, I don't need to put them in a specific free time plan because they are already incorporated into my daily life. There are some things that I would like to be doing habitually and am not. So my list for this next round looks a bit more boring, but I'm actually quite pleased with it.

  1. Cooking – I would like to be cooking more. I grab quick meals more than I'd like and also would like to get better at cooking. My goals are to cook at least 4 out of 7 dinners per week with at least one of those meals being a new recipe. To do this, I will need to make meal plans every week. Sunday's seem the easiest day to do this on. I tend to grab prepared meals on days where I'm working late and/or have practice so meal planning will allow me to see which days I'll need to prep ahead. 
  2. Sewing – I'm carrying this hobby/activity over to this next round because I just want some more time with it. I want to be a bit more focused with this one as well. I was thinking I'd need to drop this and just substitute it with generic “crafting” as the holidays are approaching and I want to make hand-made gifts, but I think rather than have a sporadic number and type of gifts, I'll give only sewn (or possibly, cooked) gifts. I think it will make it easier to pick what I'm making for people and will also get me to practice some skills with sewing that maybe I wouldn't otherwise. So my general plan here is to map out the holiday presents I want to make and then make time to work on them for at least 2 hours every week, probably on weekends. I also want to pick out at least 3 projects for myself and get through those. This is a little less specific because I still need to sort through some project books, lists, etc.
  3. Classes – There are a bunch of free college courses online that I've been toying with taking for a while now. I've taken bits and pieces of some on Coursera but I wanted to actually integrate them into a plan. So I'm picking one philosophy class on MIT's open course site and taking that. My plan will be to work on it at least 2 hours per week, likely on the weekend, and then I can add extra time as I feel like it.
  4. Meditating – This is another activity where I want it to be just part of my daily life but it's not. I go in phases where it is, but I want it to be more integrated. I didn't add it to my original plan because I thought of it like working out; I don't always want to do it, but it's part of healthy living for me so I don't necessarily need to plan for it or think of it as something to do in my down time. Writing this now, I think it sounds a bit silly, like obviously I should have planned for it, but I think at the time I was meditating a more and felt like it was a non-issue. Also, I was more concerned with structuring my free/fun time. This time around I'm less interested in thinking about what I do for fun and more interested in what I do, period. And unlike working out, I don't already have a solid meditation practice in the way that I'd like. So my plan with this is to meditate for at least 15 minutes every morning, directly after having 2 cups of coffee. If I have less time in the morning, i.e. I've gotten up late or need to go to work early, then I get 0-1 cups of coffee first. I am putting this weird coffee rule in because I often tell myself I'm going to meditate as soon as I'm done with my coffee and then lo and behold I've run out of time and I need to go to work. Also, I've fallen into the habit of listening to a Buddhist talk or podcast over coffee and never actually going to meditate. I'm also hoping to taper my coffee drinking eventually but am not actively working on this yet. At least two mornings a week (probably Wednesday and Saturday) I'm going to do the morning sittings at the Zen Center. Which means on Tuesday night I need to make sure my clothes and food are ready for work.

    So that's it for my activity planning for right now. I stopped using a planner after nursing school and I'm going to use it again, at least for a bit, while I build these new habits/activities into my free time. Sometimes I think building new habits is a matter of remembering to do them so the planner will be useful. I'm thinking of setting the time frame on this round of activities to 6 months, but will extend the time based on whether or not the goals I set down were accomplished or not.