On Time and Spending it Well


Ask a random sampling of people how their time is best spent, and chances are you will hear different responses.  One will tell you that it is the hour just before bedtime spent snuggling and reading with his children.  Another might say it is the days spent putting together the presentation guaranteed to land a big new client for her company.  Still another will vow that the stolen moments of solitude in the middle of a hectic week are the ones that matter most.  The wonderful thing is that each of these answers is the right one.

During the career driven years of my late twenties and early thirties I misled myself into believing that the countless evenings and weekends spent working were fulfilling.  I realized down the road that those extra hours at the office, far from enriching my life, were the very ones that were sucking the life out of me.  Just because that was the case for me, though, does not make it so for everyone.

In our house we now subscribe to the theory that you are only as rich as your free time, a wonderful phrase picked up from a friend that best describes our line of thinking.  For us, it works best to forego the material “extras” that money can buy in exchange for more leisure time enjoyed away from our jobs.  This does not mean that we do not care about our work.  My husband has been a dedicated law enforcement officer for twenty years, and I have landed an ideal position in my field that allows me to spend less time in the office while still being a major contributor to my employer.  What we have learned is that what works for us is to know how much we can give to our careers without compromising our well-being.

When I realized that my health, both mental and physical, was better served by working less and spending less, I felt as if I had made a great discovery.  I am often compelled to share my findings with others because it is a part of my journey.  However, it has dawned on me that in the process I may be belittling or demeaning the way others choose to spend their time, and by extension the things that are important to them.

I can easily pass a day away lounging on the couch watching reruns of Dateline, reading, writing, napping, and surfing the internet.  To some this would be the definition of time wasted, but to me it is restorative and thereby far from wasted.  Someone else may be energized by deadlines, projects, business trips, and burning the midnight oil.  To me that is not time wasted, but for me it might not be time well spent.

I prefer to have blocks of unencumbered time set aside, while others prefer to fill their days with one activity after another.  I am energized by working a short week and having extra downtime to pursue outside interests.  There are many dedicated, highly successful people who genuinely thrive on working long, hard hours.  I need to remember to take care, as I do not want to judge their choices anymore than I want to have mine judged.

My time is well spent for me because how I choose to spend it enriches my life.  Your time, while it may be spent in an entirely different manner than mine, is time well spent if it enriches your lifeli One way does not have to be right and another wrong.  The important thing is to make sure that we are not doing time, but rather that we are living time.  Time spent living, growing, and loving can never be mistaken for time misspent.

How is your time best spent?  Do you prefer to be busy and on the go, or do you prefer downtime?  As always I appreciate and encourage your feedback and comments.  Cheers! Karen

 

Photo credits to http://www.pixabay.com

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81 thoughts on “On Time and Spending it Well

  1. Balance is the key, and sometimes we cannot see that it’s missing as we go about our day to day ‘existence’. I can identify with long hours, ill health (I suffered from migraines for years) and stress.
    I worked for a corporate company for 12 years and although I enjoyed my job, I was always tired, frustrated and stressed out. Was it worth it? No, not really.
    Time now is spent so differently. We have routine yes, but on our terms, not the clock.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I can see that we are on similar paths. We are both happy in our present jobs, but we are working toward being able to retire by the time we hit our mid-50s. We are looking forward to the next chapter, and as you said, having a routine on our terms.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. This was a very enriching post, Karen! In reading your post today, it occurred to me that there are 2 people in my life who I feel never have “downtime” because they are always doing errands, cleaning, rushing around etc. However, your post made me realize that they are spending their time exactly how they’d like and the fact that I prefer to take life easier doesn’t mean they’re doing it wrong…
    Thanks for reminding me!
    I enjoyed reading about your time discovery and what matters to you and your family in regards. I like being a part of your life’s journey! Thank you!
    Hope you had a great weekend!
    *Lia

    Liked by 2 people

    • I like you being a part of my journey, too…very much so! I used to feel a bit sub-par compared to some of the superwomen I know who never seem to sit down. I also thought they were maybe just a little bit in need of some lessons on relaxing, lol. It took a good while for me to realize that we are each doing what suits us. Thank you for a happy start to the week with your wonderful comment today! Have a fantastic week, my friend!

      Like

    • I don’t cook often, but when I do I find a peacefulness in the rhythm of working in the kitchen. For several months after I quit smoking I would stay in the kitchen for hours, chopping anything that could be chopped and baking often. It was a soothing distraction for sure. I can see why it’s your “zen” time.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m a fan of how you spend your free time. That’s how I prefer to spend mine as well. My husband is also a believer in the work less, spend less thing. This has gotten him a position that allows him to work from home 95% of the time, instead of being in the rat race. Wouldn’t have it any other way 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • It seems cliche, but it is true in our case that the less stuff we have the happier we are. I was able to cut back to part-time, and it has given us the opportunity to spend more time together (which is important since he works 12-hour shifts). It’s nice to have the time to soak up life’s sweet little experiences…like finding a snake in the sink. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I really put alot of time into planning things…holidays, vacations, projects, whatever. People comment that I’m wasting time on something that should just be enjoyable. I tell them I’ll enjoy it alot more if I’m de-stressed about it on the whole because I know I’m going to get exactly what I want and can rely on my plans so that I’m prepared for things that might come up. I really liked this post, Karen. It’s another simple concept that people take a long time to figure out. Putting stuff like this into words seems to be your forte!

    Liked by 2 people

    • You just provided a perfect example of what I’m trying to say! If your time spent planning allows you to unwind and enjoy the event once it occurs then who is anyone else to say your time is wasted? Thank you for underscoring the intent of this post so well! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Karen, I completely agree with you. I cherish downtime. I used to feel ashamed, I felt like I needed to be accomplishing something at all times. However… Who was I trying to impress? Now I just revel in time spent napping, playing with my dog, and relaxing with Netflix.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think you feel even more compelled to be “busy” all the time when you are young, as you are. You have this pressure to feel like you are achieving this or that, advancing in your career, etc., when the true measure of success is in discovering who you are and what best suits you. It sounds to me like you have found some fulfilling ways to spend your time!

      Like

    • Isn’t it crazy how we can make ourselves feel guilty about doing things that we enjoy, things that heal us? We were definitely mis-trained at some point. I do see more & more people seeking a better balance. I’m going to call that progress! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh this is something SO on my mind at the moment as my life balance shifts again. I love that you’re not judging others for their choices. As we wouldn’t want to be judged for our own. Great post which u will def read again as I have similar things in my draft folder at the moment.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Such a great post, Karen! This is a topic that is so good to think about for each person. My husband and I have thought a lot about this over the years and really tried to slow down our lives. I used to wear busyness as a badge of honor, but now I just want to enjoy the simple life. Such a thoughtful post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Marla! Nice to see both you and Abbie today! I know from reading some of your past posts that you have been on a journey to find what best fulfills you. It is a battle as we sometimes feel that we are not living up to our potential, or expectations. For me, the greatest happiness lies in my home life. There were times that I was too focused in other areas to see that, but we are entitled to stumble along the way.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Thanks for sharing, Karen. That is a great post about an important discovery.
    I like that you also made it clear that for some people hard work may be the thing that fulfills them and that there is no one size fits all solution.

    After 9 years on a spiritual path, I see that many people usually seek fulfillment outside of themselves in jobs. That is because we arrive here on Earth having forgotten that we have all the joy and peace inside of us. That state leaves us searching for the lost paradise. The search is directed outwards at first. Searching for fulfillment in a job. Or in a new car. Or in a new lover. Or in a new furniture.

    The outwards directed search leads to constant living in the future.
    If I only could have that new house, THEN I would be happy.
    If I only could have that promotion, THEN I would be happy.
    If I only could have children, THEN I could be happy.
    If my children were only grown up and moved out of the house, THEN I would be happy.

    That continues until there is a realization that fulfillment can never be found in the future and that each new job/car/lover/furniture makes for fleeting happiness at best.

    After that realization, the search turns inward. That is when the spiritual seeking starts and a whole new world and a totally different navigation mode are discovered.

    So, if people are working hard because they are looking for the happiness outside of them, that is bound to fail sooner or later. But if they have already found this inner source of contentedness, joy and peace, and if the hard work comes from a genuine inner place, then they will probably be able to keep the pace and not find that it feels hard.

    I personally was very active when I was younger. Now, I prefer more downtime. Reading, writing, sleeping, walking.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Karin, thank you for taking the time to write such a well-thought and meaningful response. You could use this comment as a blog post of your own. You have a wonderful way of explaining intangible concepts! You are spot on with the logic that if you haven’t found your happiness within you will never find it outside of you.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for your kind reply.
        Maybe this will turn into a blog post. I like this effect of the blogosphere that posts of others are always food for thought and trigger putting thoughts on paper.
        Thanks for all your thought-provoking posts!

        Liked by 2 people

  9. Lovely post this is, Karen. I prefer downtime. Living my mid-30’s now, I have realized that life is not just about working round the clock to be happy, as you said. Well some people might “love” that but I don’t. I do work only when it is time for. For me, family comes first, work second.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good for you! It was in my mid-30s that I started to feel a degree of discontent with the unbalanced amount of time I was dedicating to my career. I always say that the best part of my day is walking in my own front door. It sounds as if you are of like mind! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I know I cannot stay idle for long. That doesn’t mean that I need a whirlwind of activity, but just something to engage me – even if it is just staring at the clouds. I like the philosophy you have adopted in your home – it would also naturally lead to more family time and picture perfect moments 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Ah, yes. I can identify. After working for about 30 years at full tilt in the Ad Biz in New York, I decided to ‘go freelance’, basically working in ‘spurts’ when people need me. I’m lucky to have a husband who supports me, literally and figuratively (!) so that I can do this. So what do I do with my ‘downtime’? I (urk) discovered blogging!

    Liked by 1 person

    • After thirty years I’d say you have earned the right to “slow down”. I laugh when I write those two words, because from what I’ve glimpsed of your life through your blog I do not believe slow is in your repertoire. I’m guessing you are exerting your efforts in new directions. I, for one, and glad that blogging is one of those directions!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I prefer both, depending on the day and my mood. Being active and productive makes me feel good, whether it’s getting out and exploring with my hubby or doing stuff around the house. But I also love those times when I ignore my to-do list and just relax or do something I really enjoy. I’m still learning to balance my life better but, for me, that balance is key to being content.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What a great response! I think a bit of both is a good thing, and kudos to you for being able to recognize when you need one or the other! I find that working part-time gives me the boost of productivity that balances out my “lazy cat days” spent lounging.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I am of the mindset that I have to get ALL my have-tos done before I let myself enjoy any downtime. Gee, I wonder why I never have any downtime… Hmm… 🙂 Nice, thought provoking post, Karen.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. It’s really cool how everyone is different, I love to decompress in spare time after a hard day but I have friends who do things like spend an hour at the gym after work then go and teach a yoga class. I’ve recently made the decision to try and do more with my down time so that I can feel like I am accomplishing more but as with most things in life its a case of balance and I’m not going to give up all my Netflix time!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do set aside an hour after work for working out, but to me that counts as downtime because it’s a stress reliever for me. I remember when I worked with and corresponded with insurance underwriters in London that they were way smarter than us Americans. You won’t find too many people here who take “holidays”, but I guarantee it would make us far more productive. Give up Netflix time? Perish the thought!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Terrific post. People should do what they love to do and when it’s your time to move on, if you can look back believing your time was well spent, then whatever you choose to do was right for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Lovely post. You said, “you are only as rich as your free time” which is a really fabulous idea. And how you spend tht free time is important. I think you are right in that you are better to spend it in whatever way makes you happy. I used to work incredible long hours, and my work was fulfilling. But it sucked out every ounce of leisure. It took leaving my job for me to find balance, but I am slowly figuring it out. I am happy to have found you via The Leisure Link.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Michele,
      Thank you for following the trail from Terri’s Leisure Link! It sounds like we have some similar experiences. I left my job five years ago after becoming increasingly stressed and unhealthy. I have been working toward that balance ever since, and I think I’m finally there. I am thrilled to hear that you have found yours! I can tell just from your blog’s title and your Welcome section that it will be one of my new favorites!
      Best,
      Karen

      Like

  17. Lovely post! I used to love the feeling of being busy; the adrenaline rush and beating deadlines at work. There is a certain satisfaction that I get once I complete the job. But people DO change. I still miss it at times but i dont miss the stress. I have ways of keeping myself busy now, but I spend my time on the things that I love and really enjoy doing. And yes, i still fee accomplished 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Its so true how it comes down to personal preference. I need lots of quiet and downtime. Maybe that’s the writer in me. But I know successful people who thrive on pressure, socializing and lots of action. Maybe its knowing who we are and what we need that makes the difference between a fulfilled life and one that’s not.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We are of like mind. I enjoy spurts of activity and interaction with the world, but they are always followed by a regrouping in solitude at home to restore energy. Introverts at heart working to live in an extroverted world. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  19. I think it’s really important to reflect on how we spend our time. And also who we spend it with. I think my time is very well spent as I’m not spending it on things anymore I really hate doing and especially not with people I don’t want to be around. Of course sometimes you can’t help it but as long as the majority of your time is spend living your life in a way you are happy with, your time is spent well. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. As always, another great post Karen. I have always been one that could never slow down. But the last few years this has been changing, and now I am cherishing my down time. My relaxing comes in different ways, it may be a run, or it may be just sitting down and reading some blogs….something I probably would not have been able to do 15 years ago.
    Working less also means spending less. It has been neat to see our money go further.
    Thank you for sharing! 🙂
    ~Carl~

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Pingback: My Picks Of The Week #27 | A Momma's View

  22. Hey! I’m happy to have been introduced to your blog via https://amommasview.wordpress.com/2015/06/20/my-picks-of-the-week-27/comment-page-1/#comment-12055
    First of all, I love the photo header on your blog. It makes me want to park myself in front of your blog and stay here. Secondly, what a wonderfully written article. My favorite line is “…make sure we aren’t doing time, but rather that we are living time.” What a great outlook and I’m going to try to remember that. Lastly, your clock photo is also awesome.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Barb,
      Thank you for visiting and for the lovely compliment! The header photo was taken at a beautiful sculpture garden about ten miles from my home. It is a place where I often do park myself and stay for hours on end. 🙂 I can’t take any credit for the clock photo as that one was used from pixabay.com.
      Best, Karen

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Like you, I would rather have less stuff and more time! Time well spent is time doing what ever you find rewarding. I feel rewarded if I can see the fruits of my time, a painting, a drawing, a clean room or a finished book, a happy child. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Spending time well can be hard when you compare you days to those around you. But I find it a lot easier to make the most of life, and the time I have, when I think back to what I enjoy and what makes me happy and remind myself that being my own person is the only person I can be!

    Liked by 1 person

    • So true! I used to compare myself constantly to people who are always on the go. I finally realized that what was right for them was just not right for me. As you say so well, I can only be me!

      Thank you for stopping by and for sharing your thoughts!
      Best,
      Karen

      Like

  25. Very well said. I’m still struggling to work less and enjoy ‘at the moment’ time. My leisure is when I have time to cook some sumptuous meal for my family during weekend. It’s so recharging..

    Like

    • It can be hard to dial it back when everything in society tells us to go, go, go. You are not the first person to say that cooking is how you re-charge. I don’t cook often, but I do enjoy the relaxing rhythm of it. Thank you for visiting and sharing your thoughts! Best, Karen 🙂

      Like

  26. Gosh, Karen, I wish I could be happier in moments of relaxation. One thing is for certain: I will never, ever — EVER — be bored! So many interests… so many ambitions… I’m like the kid in the candy store that can’t choose just one… I’m like the glutton at the buffet that can’t stop eating. That’s how I approach every day.

    Not sure it’s the best way, but it’s my way.

    I rely on family get-togethers, Saturday morning summer basketball with my super-competitive family (my cousins who are like my brothers and my adult kids), and my workouts (especially the leisurely showers afterward) to recharge.

    Writing also energizes and me.

    Like

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