How much time do I have?
All in all, like most people, I’m a pretty busy guy. I have a wife, children and a dayjob. Some social activity is desirable as well. I also go to the gym three times a week to stay in shape. And then there are hobbies that ask for my time too. And, not to forget, I need time to spend on spiritual activities as well, like meditation. This alone is enough to fill up a life. So how to build a project in my free time next to all that. It seems that prioritizing is what can be done much better. Let’s have a closer look at the main activities occupying my time.
Wife and children?
No prioirity! … Ehm, all right, that’s nonsense of course. But I have to be honest. My schedule does impact time that I spend with them. And yes, this should be done better. Of course, they do have high priority! So there needs to be time set aside just to spend quality time with them.
You see, I’m quite social, but not super social. I spend enough time with friends but I’m a relatively private person and I like it that way. In the end, this does not impact my time in a way it becomes impairing to my projects. It’s balanced and I feel comfortable with.
I need a job to provide for my family, and I like my job. You see, at work I have to be sharp as well. What I did, and it has been like this for a couple of years now, is to cut down on the time required for my dayjob. I just work one day less. It frees up valuable time.
Staying in shape
This is a clear non-negotiable activity. With this type of work it’s all too easy to move my body far too little. I’m thirty-seven years old, so sitting behind a desk every day of the week and expecting to feel healthy and fit is simply not going to happen. Not moving has a far reaching impact on my health and mental state. Rationally I look at it this way: Any activity that contributes to longevity and improved health, it by definition more important than anything that does not. In return I feel more energetic, sharper and even more self-confident. This pays back big time when it comes to my family, job and side-projects.
No. As I mentioned there are those ‘hobbies’. You can also say it this way: I have a chronic lack of focus. I have way too many interests. Something has to give, but what? For example. Who makes a game like Factorio!! This is a major distraction! The truth is, that those things have to give. Playing a game every now and then… allright. But such massive time consumers as Factorio? There’s absolutely no need to send this rocket into space. (I just did it… ;)) Other hobbies, like making creative coding thingies or playing with 3d software like Blender can also be less. It’s just not contributing to the main goal. I also like to read, that is something I won’t quit as it provides me with important knowlegde about a lot of things. It really contributes to my well being.
I’m not going in depth about what I regard as my spiritual growth or what it is that I believe exactly. I may do that some other time. But the fact remains that I need at least some time to set aside to practice meditation. This is also a non-negotiable activity like staying in shape because it contributes to my overall well-being. In truth, this is usually one of the first things that I forget or put aside for ‘later’ only to never really get to it. It should have higher priority though.
The first thing I had to learn is how not to depend on the surge of inspiration. After having worked on so many projects as I did, you learn that the inspiration is only temporary. There will be a time it starts feeling like work again. There is no magic bullet to conquer that feeling. It’s just about discipline. Just pick up the project and continue working on it. Maybe it wasn’t much, but do something. Every step is a step. Oh, and if you keep at it, inspiration comes back. It comes and goes in waves. Just ride the waves. I know this because I managed to push myself far enough. But I still don’t master it, otherwise the priority issue wasn’t there.
It looks like there is some low hanging fruit that can be tackled right away so let’s start with that. A significant gain in time that can be spent on my side project comes down to cutting down time on playing useless games. And that really is a big time saver! Looking at the sixtysix hours I needed to send that Factorio rocket into space. Well, that was just a waste of time.
Other than that, there is some other areas besides personal projects that could benefit from more attention. Like my family and spirituality. But this seems doable! Let’s put it to the test. The amount of updates I manage to write about my node based user interface will be a testimony to my successful implementation of better time management.