All Work and No Play Makes Everyone Else Lonely
Last updated on August 16th, 2019
I am on vacation right now (it is really a stay-cation). No matter where that time off from the 9-to-5 grind takes you, it is supposed to be about rest and relaxation. I can say that I feel pretty relaxed, but I have not actually taken a break.
With all the things I am pursuing to make an extra dollar, I have neglected to consider the one group of people that really matter most – Me and my family.
They have been incredibly supportive so far. They seem to understand that I am not really avoiding them, but trying to build something better for all of us. But even then, I cannot help but feel the guilt of not making enough time for them.
I’m going to tell you a story. It is about my day, but it is the reason I am sitting here typing. Please bear with the long-winded account of my activities.
The start of the epiphany
This morning, I woke up a little later than usual. Honestly, it felt good to get a little more sleep. I slipped on my sandals and headed down the stairs. On the couch sat an overly anxious, ready for the day, full of the sugar from a pack of gummy snacks, five-year-old whirlwind of enthusiasm and energy.
This is not a great mix for me, as I am really not that ready to seize the day. I grab the dog, my cup of coffee, and headed to the back yard for a little wake-up time. That was soon interrupted.
I’ve been home all week and really haven’t spent much time with the little one, but the version of me that just rolled out of bed can be a little selfish.
She played with the dog while I did my morning phone ritual (email, bank accounts, and social media) and I enjoyed my cup of coffee in the muggy morning air. July in Ohio can be brutally humid.
A better way to prioritize
I had already started to plan my day in my head so that I could still be somewhat productive. Something clicked this morning. I knew that I could not just come up with a plan in my head each day.
This is how I’ve always operated and frankly, it isn’t working anymore. Not that I am unable to follow my plan, this more about the things I don’t leave time to do.
When I plan in my head, I fill it with tasks from start to finish. When I do that, everything else is either not important or in my way because it is not on the list. The issue with this is the list is about me and what I want to be accomplished. It makes no considerations for anyone else.
So, what did I do differently today? I still made a list in my head and I still filled it with things – some important, some not. But then I threw it out.
What created the epiphany I should have experienced long ago? That overly-hyper, constantly talking, ready to carpe the bejezus out of every diem 5-year-old I braced myself for when I awoke.
Breaking the cycle
“Hey, Josh, do you want to help me with one of my projects?” She is referring to a Kiwi Crete she just received. Most days, I would do the typical “Maybe Later” dance, but I chose differently today.
We learned about rainbows and light and optics and built a cool little projector screen that cast shadows from dry erase marker doodles. You could tell the concepts were a little advanced for her, but it was obvious she was enjoying the attention. I’ll admit, I enjoyed it too.
So was it time for me to go to the lab? Yes, but only for a short time. Because I had opened my plan to be flexible once, I decided it was okay if I was flexible again. It was time to finally clean some things out of the basement, as my girlfriend had asked several times before. I wasn’t ignoring her requests, I just never made time in my daily plan to do it.
Prioritizing to consider others
I marched downstairs to the collection of empty boxes, old toys, and clothes from a lifetime ago. Then, I started sorting and sweeping and boxing until I had actually made a dent in the sea of yard sale-bound items freely flowing around the cement floor. I also scrubbed the basement bathroom and shower.
Sure, I made trips to the attic and pulled out my iPad to check on the blog, social media, install some plugins, and I still accomplished most of the items in my brain. Then I took a break and took a page out of a five-year-old’s playbook and just seized the opportunity to go watch her play at the park for a while.
It can be a little stressful, as the mind of a five-year-old holds interest in something for about 2.7 seconds, and I was not just sitting and watching. She would never allow that.
The Realization about priorities
That brings us to now – Me sitting in my dining room recalling the day. What is the point of this story? Sure, we could say make time for your family is the point, but that is not the whole purpose of this post. The way I went about my day made me think about any “project” I started in my life.
Every time I say “Hey, I’m going to do this creative thing…” I overload my internal list with tasks that have focused on only that project and within a couple weeks, I’m so over it, I just put it down and walk away. I may try again later, but only to find the same result.
I want to avoid that at all costs this time. My efforts are about more than just my own personal glory. The results are about more than just saying “I did it!” Others depend on my success, others suffer from my failures, others need me to provide, but they also need me to be present in their lives.
Prioritize your life and everything in it
Ultimately, it reinforces the need for planning, but not just on a whim, in my head, right after I wake up. This week has been easy. I’m not going to work each day, driving the long commute to and from my office to get home, eat dinner, make a little time to do a few user tests and go to bed, but easy street will end soon and I’ll need to juggle all of it in the next few days.
Being there today to do the things my family needed me to do was huge, even if the things I did were small. I also need to budget my time in a way that does not allow me to burn out and make waste of all the time and energy spent to this point. Not succeeding is okay, but I cannot accept giving up.
Now, I need to think about when and how often I can do the things I need to do to make the hustles work. I also have to make the decision of what parts I need to eliminate. Why should I waste my time on things that will bring no benefit, when I can use that time to benefit the people that matter most. If I don’t succeed in this task and continue down the path I’ve walked for so long, there will not be anyone here to share in the bounties of success.
What do you do to balance work, life, and your side hustle? Let me know in the comments below. Happy Hustling!