Now that it is 10pm, I am finally sitting down to write to you. I had thought up my topic this morning - how I feel way too busy, like I never have enough time - and then, throughout the day, I kept seeing posts on social media in that same vein. E.g., “I have priorities, my problem is most of them are first priorities;” someone quoting Maria Popova: “The cult of productivity has its place, but worshipping at its altar daily robs us of the very capacity for joy and wonder that makes life worth living;” and advice that having fun is a key to good health, and “requires disconnection from routine.” SO, signs from the universe that I chose a good topic. :)
Basically, I was wondering if you had any advice for me on how to create more time and open up space in my life. Too often I feel rushed, and like I never have time for what I REALLY want to do. Being an adult is crazy: I do my laundry, go grocery shopping, make meals for the week so I don’t always eat frozen food and/or eat out, do dishes, exercise, hang out with friends, try to go on a few dates so I can say I’m “trying,” etc. My evenings fill up so quickly and I feel like I never have enough time to do NOTHING. I also try to practice my flute, read for fun, and work on my creative writing. At the same time, I think to myself, I must be doing something wrong, I’m not SUPPOSED to feel this crushed for time. So I judge myself and think the problem is more me than it is the society around me (it’s probably a mix of both).
One concrete thing I should maybe do is quit the poetry journal I joined as a reader (i.e., reading and voting on poetry submissions, about 3-4 hours a week). I just joined at the beginning of January, so I would feel bad for quitting barely 2 months later. But it is a lot of work, and though I do get some benefits from it, I think it’s taxing me more than anything. But I’ve thought this for weeks and haven’t quit! B, help me quit!
I also deleted my dating apps in January and have just gone on a couple dates since then, but this one guy I’ve seen twice keeps asking and asking for my time on weekday nights, and I keep saying no. I’ve finally asked him if we can keep it to weekends for now. I’m proud of myself for voicing my needs, but his prior neediness (what I perceive as neediness) keeps weighing on my mind. I enjoy hanging out with him in person but I don’t enjoy how much he’s asking of me. Is it even worth it to keep seeing him? I’m lonely and I want a boyfriend, but I also feel like my time is precious to me and I don’t want to share it with this guy. Does that mean he’s the wrong guy, or that I need to focus on me right now and shouldn’t be looking for a relationship with anyone, period?
Perhaps I haven’t given you enough context for you to answer all these questions - but any thoughts are appreciated. :) Much love to you, B.
I definitely feel you on this question - I believe we both recall the fateful day when I declared that showering takes too much time.
I see a lot of absolutes in this question. I’ll start backwards, because I think your last paragraph is the easiest to address. Not wanting to spend weeknights with a guy does not automatically equal that he is the wrongest wrong guy to have ever lived, or that dating is not something you should be doing at all right now. It just means that, right now, for you, dating on the weekends is all you want. That’s fine! That’s a perfectly valid way to date!
Good on you for telling boy what you wanted. Now it’s up to him to say, “Yes! Weekend dates sound wonderful, let’s do that.” Or he can also say, “I’m looking for someone to spend every waking minute with. So sorry that is not you, but I wish you the best.” Vaguely wanting a boyfriend does not mean that you have to automatically give over all your time to a potential beau. You don’t need prove that you are “serious enough” or “really trying” to date. You also don’t need to give up dating altogether if weekend dates are something you enjoy. Embrace being a person who dates on the weekends, and feel no guilt for saying no to weeknight dates. Weekend boy may eventually turn into All the Time Boy. He might also turn into Never Ever Boy. I think going on dates when you feel like your schedule allows for the moment is a great way to let that all unfold in its own time.
Now on to the trickier stuff. As much as I wish I could, I can’t wave a wand and give you 5 more hours in the day. Also, knowing you, you would fill those hours with worthwhile things that you are passionate about and we would be right back where we started. And I don’t think cutting out some things that you love is going to actually give you any more peace about how your time goes by. So I think it’s probably better to focus on ways to maximize your time doing things that you choose.
One way that I do this is by combining things. I am a big fan of having an audio book or a musical or some band that I LOVE playing while I bop around doing chores. Is there a way you could add a soundtrack to your daily chores to make that time feel less like awful drudgery and more like a nice little interlude in your day? Additionally with date boy, can you plan some dates that also get things done for you? I personally would LOVE going on a date to the grocery store (especially one with free samples) so that we can both get our weekly groceries, then going back to one or the other’s house to cook a meal/meal prep for the week together. Is that something that you would like?
If that sounds way too stressful, there’s also the opposite strategy. I’ve noticed my husband feels way more stressed out when we try to do too many things at once. He prefers to do a task, give it his full attention, and finish it. Are you trying to pull yourself in too many directions while you race around completing little bits of things? Do the unfinished tasks weigh on your mind so that you’re never truly relaxed? Maybe you need to take a breather from doing all the things at once and just pick one or two priorities a day. Yes, they may all be first priorities but I don’t think the world will end if a day or two passes on them.
Which brings me to my last suggestion. Write things down. I don’t know what kind of schedule/to do lists you may or may not already make, but the human brain calms down almost instantly when it can see a clear list of all the tasks waiting for it. Letting things float about nebulously in our heads makes them bigger than they really are. Even tiny tasks like dropping a letter by the post office can take up way too much executive functioning if we constantly fear we will forget it. But if “Mail letter” is written down in a place where you trust that you will look at it, that small task can leave your conscious mind.
For me at least, I’ve found that writing out a list focuses me enough that I can accomplish all the “obligations” and find some time to just chill and breathe.
And to your last question - should you quit reading for the poetry journal? Based on your letter, I’m leaning strongly towards yes. I don’t think it’s out of line for you to tell your contacts at the journal some version of exactly what you told me. Life is unpredictable and even commitments made with the best of intentions can not work out. It doesn’t make you flaky or irresponsible or bad at time management to realize “this is a thing that I like, but it is not a thing that I can/want to/am able to do right now.” I would send them an email saying something like, “Dear Journal People, I’ve really enjoyed my time reading for Journal and am grateful to be a part of this effort to publish such talented new poets. As I’ve settled in to my role here, I’ve realized that the schedule really doesn’t make sense with my life right now. I’ve had several new projects pop up at work/I recently got a cat/I have familial obligations that are now taking a significant portion of the time I thought I could devote to Journal. While I regret that I will have to step down so soon, I would rather that Journal have a reader who is able to give this role the time that it deserves.” You can also add in something about how you would like to come back on when your schedule calms down, but only add that part in if you REALLY mean it.
Hope all/any of this helps! Wishing you all the very best and a few moments to yourself each day.