Writing into the ether…

I find myself overwhelmed with options of where to begin. A few days ago, when this whole idea felt a lot clearer, I wrote:

I'm not setting out to achieve anything specific. I'm going to set out to find what interests me at this point in my life. What do I want to learn? What do I want more of in my life? Less of? What makes me feel excited and fulfilled? What have I thought I always wanted to do, but upon trying it, don't actually want to pursue? What do I like to do for fun?

A big part of this, for me, is building the habit of writing consistently. It's one of those things I've always wanted to do, but I've never known what to write about. I'm giving myself this whole experiment as a thing to write about, and yet I seem to still be stymied about where to begin. So I'll begin with a braindump of what I've been thinking about as I've been trying to sort out this experiment of mine...

Question 1: What does a normal day look like for someone with hobbies and creative habits?

This one is the great mystery to me. I know we all have the same 24 hours in the day and blah blah blah, but how do people structure their day? Is it all scheduled to the minute? Do they have "free time" blocks where they work on their hobbies or read or do whatever it is that isn't work or life maintenance? How do they decide what to do during that time? What if the weather isn't cooperating? What if they have to run an errand during that time instead? Those are the sorts of things that tend to throw me. I'd love to just be inside other people's brains for a little while to see how they make decisions.

Question 2: What time do I have to carve out?

I spent a few hours going through my calendar, trying to get a sense of where I spend my time. How many hours a day do I tend to work? What am I doing in the non-work hours? The answer to the latter is easy: I'm either working more or consuming some sort of YouTube/Netflix/TikTok/Instagram feast.

In laying out my working hours, if I stick strictly to the hours I've set, then I have about 20-22 hours, plus weekends that are "mine" to do whatever I want with. I didn't factor in life maintenance type things (i.e. grocery shopping, laundry, cooking, etc.), so let's take a conservative 7 hours a week for that, leaving me with ~13-15 hours + weekends. It's kind of shocking to think I spend that much time doing not much of anything.

Question 3: What am I committing to?

I've gone back and forth on whether I should be commiting to certain things each week or month or day or whether I should let the year take me where it will with less structure and just exploring wherever my curiosity took me. I like the idea of some sort of regular commitment, and I know if I have no structure, then I'll never be able to start. And too much structure, I'll hate the process.

In this Goldilocks scenario, I've decided to break things down into a few different scales. I know there are some things that I'll need to put structure around or I'll never do them. I know there are others that will just pop up along the way or are more seasonal, etc.

Going back to my original questions that sparked this whole adventure, I know there are a few things I want out of this:

  1. I want to build habits that are more around production and participation than consumption. I want to create things again.
  2. I want to become a whole person again - someone who is defined by more than their job. I want to find balance.
  3. I want to give myself the freedom to continue to learn cool stuff, do cool stuff, and to figure out where I want to spend my time and energy over the coming years.

For January...

  • Every day, I'm going to track how I'm spending my time. This will give me a bit of a baseline, but also some level of accountability to start to use that "free time" better. I have the spreadsheet set up and a calendar reminder to fill it out every day.
Spreadsheet to track time in January
  • Instead of dry January, I'm going to do "no candy January" toward my "fit back into my jeans" goal.
  • I'll write here at least once a week.
  • I'll do a recap/debrief of any specific projects/research rabbit holes.

It's a pretty short list, but I don't want to bite off more than I can chew and lose motivation before I'm even out of the starting block.

Happy New Year!