A bit ago, I wrote a post about how frustrated I was with the fact that I never seemed to get done anything that I wanted–or needed–to accomplish. I have a To-List that climbs to new heights on a daily basis and it doesn’t seem to be decreasing any time soon. To paint a picture, here are some of the things I want (and sort of need) to do:
Finish the first draft of Artemis Smith’s first story (or my fifth book). Edit Darryn’s trilogy (or at least the first book) before August 5th, so I can send it to a swap. Edit one short story and write another. Query. Start beta reading a manuscript. Read and review an ARC book. Read and review two previously published books sent to me by the same publishing house. Read books for fun. A lot of books. Write posts regularly on both this blog and my book review blog. Finally watch the first season of Outlander. Continue playing every video game that I’m obsessed with (currently, that is Elder Scrolls Online). Perhaps get back into watching TV or Netflix. Sleep in and stay up late.
And, of course, there are things I need to do, as well:
Schedule an eye doctor’s appointment. Take Shadow for walks daily. Schedule yearly check-up. Avoid yearly check-up at all costs. Get furniture and other necessities for apartment. Get renter’s insurance. Go through stuff to prepare to move. Job search. Sell kidneys to afford life. Job search. Everything I’m forgetting at this moment. Job search.
There is just so much to do. And I’ve figured out my main problem: I keep planning to accomplish things during unreliable time, i.e., I plan to do everything I want/need to do at work, while I use my free time to play video games, and then get disappointed when I don’t accomplish the things I wanted to accomplish that evening. Like I’ve mentioned before, I have a pretty flexible job when it comes to doing work and having my own time to complete things. Yet work, of course, obviously comes first. The other night, I scanned for a couple hours and didn’t get any writing done, because I had to work at work (I know, crazy, right?). Last night, a friend came to visit and I neglected this blog again. Life happens.
I’ve realized a couple other things, too. One: I’m still living with a college student’s mindset. Summer is meant to be the time where you do all the things you want, not the things you should be doing. So playing video games until 2am? Done. Choosing to play video games instead of anything else because that’s what you truly want to do? Done. You won’t have time to, later. And for me, it’s still sort of true. When I move into my apartment at the end of August, the PS4 stays with my brother at home (it is his, after all). And considering I have to buy all my furnishings and then have a bunch of new bills to pay come August, buying a PS4 of my own won’t be on top of my list (though I want it to be). So I want to maximize on the time I have escaping into the games that I love while I can.
Two: the things that used to be “hobbies” are now much more serious to me. A year ago, writing wasn’t something I did regularly. I constantly had the ideas and wanted to write, but I never gave it importance. Cue NaNoWriMo and suddenly I realized I could give it the importance it deserved. Six months later and I have written two books and started a third. Plus, I started networking, so now I beta read for more people, have critique partners, started book reviewing and blogging more seriously–even started freelance editing, just a smidge (but loving the hell out of it).
Now, I want to do it all–writing, reading, gaming, editing, blogging–on top of my regular commitments and give all of those things equal importance. Yet the time I “budget” for it is the time I can’t rely on, so I fall into this routine of never accomplishing anything, feeling shitty about it, yet not changing anything about the circumstances, instead just using my free time playing ESO and pretending everything else is getting done.
So, here is my game plan. I’m going to make a weekly schedule to start in September. That way, I’ll be moved into my apartment, (hopefully) have my job situation figured out and I’ll still give myself a summer to be lazy and get that out of my system. On the schedule, I’ll make goals I want to accomplish by listing how many hours a week I want to spend on something, e.g., working out five hours a week, editing for six, etc. Then, I’ll block out times and list the options that make sense. For example, I won’t list working out an hour before I have to go to work because that isn’t enough time to go to the gym, shower, go home and get ready. So I’ll list that activity in the morning or early afternoon. But I could list reading or editing right before work, because that’s feasible.
Giving myself options instead of listing concrete things at certain times makes so much more sense to me, now, but I’ve never tried that before. One morning, I might wake up and really want to go run a mile (that’ll be the day). But if my schedule says I should be editing during that time and I didn’t plan any other time to edit, then I’ll feel guilty if I go run instead of edit or feel guilty if I stay to edit and don’t run whilst in the mood. Instead, by listing plausible options during slotted times–but still having goal amounts of times I want to complete during the week, thus holding myself accountable–I can have more flexibility to listen to my mood and Muses and less chance to feel guilt.
Because life gets in the way. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. And I can’t plan for that. But I can plan to be able to respond to that in a healthy manner; much healthier than I have been feeling these past few weeks, constantly fretting and feeling overwhelmed, unmotivated, under-accomplished and a failure.
So here’s my permission to continue dedicating my free time to Elder Scrolls, editing Darryn’s story before the deadline and then worrying about everything else without a deadline when my “summer” is over. Here’s my permission to not feel guilty about wanting to do everything. Here’s my permission to feel stressed trying to balance it all (notice I didn’t even get into trying to fit in things like hanging out with friends, catching up with family, one day hoping for a romantic partner to make me swoon or anything of that sort. Yeesh). Here’s the recognition that relying on unreliable time makes an already difficult task impossible. Here’s the promise that I will do better in the future, so I can continue doing everything that I love and be happy, with minimal stress and gross feelings.