I consider myself an introvert. As an introvert, I am supposed to be “recharged” when I am alone. So when I was given a chance to be at home alone for a week, I was excited. Finally, one whole week of me having my own time and being able to do the things I wanted to do!, I said to myself.
I thought of the things that I can do for the week, I can:
- write articles for my blog
- play the ukulele again
- work on my side project
- clean the house more thoroughly
And so at the start of the week I was excited at all those things on my mind. However, I still have a day job and so all of these plans needed to go before and/or after my work hours.
On the first day after my work, I thought of the next task I can do. I can finish that blog post for this month. Immediately waves of excuses flooded my mind:
- I still have the rest of the week to do the things that I want
- I am too tired from work and cannot think clearly
- Hard work was done for the day and so I deserve some reward at the end
All of these excuses seem perfectly reasonable to me at the time, and so I procrastinated and proceeded to play video games and other useless stuff like browsing the internet. This continued on beyond midnight until I finally went to bed exhausted.
The next morning, I woke up later than usual, as I was alone in the house and there is no one to wake me up. During breakfast I again feel excited about the day and the things that I can do during all those free hours, all the while doing useless stuff again to pass the time thinking I had the rest of the day ahead of me.
As my work hours ended again, I was faced with exactly the same situation yesterday and did the exact thing again: played video games and browsed the internet. This vicious cycle went on for a week until the whole week has passed.
In the end, I have accomplished the following:
- exactly 0 words added to my blog
- the ukulele was not once taken out of its case
- 0 lines of code written on personal projects
- only basic house cleaning
Obviously I was frustrated at the results and I wanted to blame something or someone else. After figuring out that I had no one else to blame but myself, I reflected on what had transpired and I came upon these realizations.
You have more free time than you think
Looking back at the hours I spent playing video games and browsing the internet, it added up to a pretty significant amount of time. Time that should be enough to have written two or more articles or be able to have sufficient progress in my ukulele skills or my side projects. Doing all those unneeded activities felt like time had passed so fast and in the end I have little (if any) results to show for it.
This is also true in the past, wherein I had indulged my free time playing games or just bluntly wasted time. I had all those free time and I still thought that I was too busy to do the things that should have more impact in my life.
Family provides structure in your day
One surprising realization for me is that having other people in the house prevents you from wasting too much time. Previously I have thought that responsibilities (most often for family) sometimes get in the way of me doing things that I wanted or needed to do, but having experienced that week alone without any distractions proved even more unproductive.
The tasks that we have for each day helps us focus more on the things that needed to be done and makes us more aware of the time. This awareness results in behavior and activities that reduce wasted time as our “free time” becomes more valuable to us.
Limitations add spice to life
The concept of having too much of anything appeals to most of us. In this situation the concept of having much free time, in the end distracted me from the things that are really important. I have realized that limitations make us treasure the things we have, and that things that we have in abundance are also the ones that we usually take for granted.
As with the previous realization, I have thought that if I had less responsibility at home I can do the things that I wanted to do for a long time. This experience taught me that those same responsibilities enabled me to plan my time more effectively, take my free time more seriously, and in the end it made me much more productive than when I am given a whole day all for myself.
Humans are not supposed to be alone
In the book of Genesis, God created Eve to be a partner for Adam. I think this move is one of the best things God has done for us. Sometimes it is tempting to do things alone, like trying out restaurants that you have not gone to before, or shopping without worrying about your time or other people. My experience has taught me that these activities only satisfy for a very short amount of time.
To be able to cherish these moments, you will need someone else to share it with, like a friend, a partner, or maybe even your pet!
I would like to note though that all these realizations are my personal observations based on my own experiences. As with all things, there are exceptions and it is up to each of us to reflect on the things that we do every day and see if they genuinely makes us happy in the context of our lifetime.