Free Time (reverb11)

What would you do if you had more free time?

(This post is a part of Reverb 11, even though I’m not blogging every day or following any kind of order.  The prompt comes from here.)

This question is fitting for this year because a lot of 2011 for Hubs and me was about decluttering our time and attempting to free more of it.  The goal was to find balance between feeling good about working really hard in lab, spending quality time together, with friends, and with our animals, exercising, and doing chores.  We’re obviously still working on it, but a lot has changed about the allocation of our time since the start of 2011.

First, we cancelled cable.  I blogged about this back in August, but now several months out, I can tell you that it is one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.  Not only have we stopped watching all cable shows (obviously), we have also stopped watching network shows that we didn’t really like because we no longer have the DVR to make them convenient.  We don’t turn to TV as the default relaxation activity anymore, and Hubs and I have both read waaaaaay more books than we did in 2010.  A lot of days the TV doesn’t come on at all, and it is almost never on in the mornings.  The NFL is still readily available, but we’ve also started a new social tradition of going to bars to watch games, which is more fun and fills us up socially.  If you’re thinking of cancelling cable, do it.  It’s absolutely the best way to give yourself more time.

Second, we hired a cleaning service.  It’s fairly crazy that grad students are making this a financial priority, but not having to worry about when our house is next getting cleaned is waaaaay worth it.  Also, the time that it takes me/Hubs to clean well and thoroughly versus the time it takes professionals to clean well and thoroughly do not compare.  We no longer have to fight about house cleaning, which is spectacular.  We can truly relax on the weekends, rather than doing tons of chores, which also means we exercise more.

Third, focusing on just a few things has made me feel more balanced overall.  Along with cancelling cable and paying someone else to clean, not playing/coaching ultimate, declining some social engagements to make sure we have some nights at home together, establishing a schedule of twice a month volunteering with Tonks, and finding three amazing yoga classes that work well with my weekly schedule have all be huge contributors to the balance I am currently (well maybe not currently, the holidays are hard) feeling.

If I had more free time, I would do more creatively, but frankly, I’m doing just fine.  The free time Hubs and I have now is spent in being together or being with family or being with friends, and I think that’s what I need right now:  to just be.

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