The Time Management Trap

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I was reading some articles I’d saved to Pocket when I spotted a notification that my sister had shared an article with me several months earlier. I either overlooked it at the time, or noticed it but decided to leave it for later because it was very long (it actually says “The long read” right at the top).

One of the points made by writer Oliver Burkeman in his article, Why time management is ruining our lives, is that we are under too much pressure to make the best use of our time, not only at work but in our personal lives. I can relate to that!

When I discovered a couple of years ago that structure and purpose are important to me, even when it comes to leisure activities, I thought it was a good thing. I took some photography courses, and having lessons and assignments to complete encouraged me to incorporate my hobby into my day-to-day life.

After completing my courses, I started a 365-day challenge as a way to keep active with my photography. I missed days here and there, but managed to post every day during November, which was based on “30 days of gratitude.” I’ve concluded, however, that this type of challenge provides too much structure for me. I was often doing it because I felt I had to, rather than out of enjoyment.

That’s not to say I don’t enjoy photography anymore – I do! And many people have said how much they enjoy seeing my photos. This one was even selected for The Best of oopoomoo Creatives 2016!

Golden Hour

I belong to a few photography-related Facebook groups, which often have daily, weekly, or monthly themes. I’m enjoying that, because I can learn from and get motivated by other photographers’ work, but there’s no pressure (internal or external) to post anything if I don’t feel inspired.

And that’s probably a good thing. When a hobby begins to feel like work, what’s the point? (Maybe that’s why I’ve been neglecting this blog a bit lately.)

The message of Burkeman’s article came back to me a few days later, when I read Linda Samuels’ post, Do You Savor or Squander the Valuable Time You Have? Linda reminded me that as long as I’m savoring my leisure time, it’s not time wasted.

I’m curious – how do you make the most of your time away from work?

Casual Photo of Janet Barclay

Janet Barclay

I eliminate stress for my clients by hosting, monitoring, and maintaining their WordPress sites so they don’t have to worry about security, downtime or performance issues. When I’m away from my desk, I enjoy reading, photography, cooking, watching movies, drinking tea, and spending time with my family.

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  1. Linda Samuels on June 10, 2017 at 3:29 pm

    Oh, Janet! I love how you’ve described where you’ve arrived…in terms of your relationship to time and how it’s managed. And yes…the idea of squandering vs. savoring time is more of an attitude about what we’re doing (or not doing) than it is about productivity. Because sometimes the most valuable use of our time is simply to just be…savoring the present moment and not dwelling in the past or the future.

    • Janet Barclay on June 12, 2017 at 6:57 am

      Thanks, Linda – I still have a long way to go! I have noticed that it’s easier to “just be” when I’m not at home, so I should probably make more of an effort to get out and enjoy nature, the mall, or other places.

      • Linda Samuels on June 12, 2017 at 7:20 am

        Especially when we work from home, it’s challenging sometimes to make that separation between work and play or work and home. So that “just being” can be trickier. However, like everything else, practice works. And the just being doesn’t have to be grand or long or extensive. It can be for a few moments. There are opportunities no matter where we are to pause, reflect and notice.

        • Janet Barclay on June 12, 2017 at 8:59 am

          Great advice, thank you, Linda. I’m finding your blog posts about mindfulness and living in the moment very inspiring!

  2. Seana Turner on June 12, 2017 at 7:11 am

    That is such an interesting point – when a hobby becomes work, what is the point? That can definitely happen, especially in something skill-based, where we feel the need to improve. Some people enjoy an ongoing challenge, but there can be a point were the leisure activity takes on a less restful/refreshing flavor. I’m going to share this with a few people I know who might find this eye opening! Then I’m rereading Linda’s post:)

    • Janet Barclay on June 12, 2017 at 9:01 am

      Oh, thank you, Seana – I appreciate your sharing my post! And your great comment, of course!

  3. Jill Robson on June 12, 2017 at 8:43 am

    I always take time to read, over breakfast, when i take a coffee break, it is my greatest hobby. When i was part of a book club however and i had to read the book someone else picked and wasn’t loving it, then it became a chore. I love reading, but on my terms.

    • Janet Barclay on June 12, 2017 at 9:02 am

      I’m also in a book club, and there have been a few times when I didn’t enjoy the book that was chosen. Fortunately, that doesn’t happen very often.

      • Janet Schiesl on June 27, 2017 at 3:21 pm

        I’m with you. My book club chose a book I knew I wasn’t going to read. That’s OK. I think it happens to everyone. I’ll enjoy the next one.

  4. Hazel Thornton on June 12, 2017 at 8:43 am

    In my blog post “Guilt-Free TV” (and others) I talk about time needing to be budgeted just like money. Is this activity worth the investment? Do I want to spend more (or less) time on it than I am currently? Some people don’t even like the term “time management” anymore and prefer to say, “choice management”. I don’t mind “time management” as long as it’s understood it’s not always about being more productive…. unless it IS about being more productive when working so as to free up more time to do what else you want.

    • Hazel Thornton on June 12, 2017 at 8:45 am

      P.S. I love that award-winning photo! Why have I not seen it before?

      • Janet Barclay on June 12, 2017 at 9:10 am

        I’m pretty sure I posted it on Facebook just after I took it, but with Facebook, it’s pretty easy to miss things! They seem to prefer to show us the same stuff over and over instead of giving us a chance to see everything just once.

    • Janet Barclay on June 12, 2017 at 9:08 am

      I really appreciated that post. I feel like I watch a lot of TV, but I get a lot of enjoyment out of it, and it’s about as close as I ever get to just switching off my brain. I’m sure you know, as a fellow solopreneur and introvert, how hard it is to do that!

    • Janet Schiesl on June 27, 2017 at 3:35 pm

      Hazel –
      I went the other way. We have almost completely cut TV out of our lives. It’s amazing how much “extra time” I feel that I have. I am just not wasting time now. Still enjoy being lazy, but with a book, podcast or webinar.

      • Janet Barclay on June 27, 2017 at 3:50 pm

        My husband considers watching TV to be a “together” activity, whereas reading etc. are solitary, so I like to keep him happy. 🙂 Plus I do enjoy most of the stuff we watch – it’s not all TV shows; a lot of it is movies on DVD – and we record everything so we never have to sit through commercials!

  5. Sabrina Quairoli on June 12, 2017 at 9:11 am

    I do find that some hobbies become chores over time. To help me spark my joy in the hobby again, I either buy something new I can use for the hobby or I look at images on Pinterest or in groups of what other people did to inspire me.

    For the most part, Saturdays are my day to update my home and do home improvements and Sundays are for relaxing. However, if I am tired, a Saturday here and there just doing nothing is great too. I try not to put too much pressure on me during the weekend. I work many hours Monday – Friday in my work and shuttling the kids around that the weekends need to be less stressful.

    • Janet Barclay on June 12, 2017 at 9:13 am

      That’s kind of what I did last week with my photography – I downloaded a couple of free photo editing apps from the Windows app store and played around with them. That’s how I came up with the image at the top of this post!

  6. Suzanna Kaye on June 12, 2017 at 4:40 pm

    It’s so true that too much structure can become tedious. I love to go with my energy at the moment. I have a list of choices for equal priority items I can work on. I select the one that fits how I am feeling at that moment. Of course, there are plenty of times when I have to do something right then because it has to get done, energy or not, but all the other times feel more like a break because I go with the flow.

    • Janet Barclay on June 12, 2017 at 4:45 pm

      I think it’s that freedom to go with the flow that distinguishes play time from work time. Even if we’re self-employed and love our work, what we do at any given time is usually dictated by external demands rather than what strikes our fancy. Thanks for sharing, Suzanna!

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