It started with decluttering my life. Simplifying, minifying, cutting out all the things I didn’t really want to own or do but hadn’t managed to slough off. By getting rid of physical clutter, I saved myself some time in picking up and cleaning. But paying attention to other kinds of clutter, like obligations and bad habits, was my real gold mine in taking back my time. I started paying more attention to where my time was going, and realized that too much of it was spent sitting in front of a screen (especially the computer; it’s my weakness). What would I do, I wondered, if I had less stress and more free time? I made a list for October, and managed to do everything on it without falling behind at school or any other disastrous consequence: I replaced the time I waste in front of the computer with activities I actually wanted to invest time in.
1. Start making presents for our Handmade Christmas
2. Enter a recipe in the State Fair bake off
3. Give up my car for a trial run and bike or ride the bus everywhere (I’m now two weeks in, with mixed results)
4. Visit my family in Asheville, NC for a long weekend
5. Spend more time with friends – including a Murder Mystery party, a pumpkin carving party, and a lot of dinners together eating meals we cooked from scratch!
It was lovely to do all of this, and I realized graduate school hasn’t been the real time-eating culprit I’ve imagined it to be. Failing to think about the free time I have and how I really want to spend it has led me to fritter it away. But no longer! For November, I’m going to continue the handmade Christmas initiative, and maybe even make a post about it, and keep biking as much as I can, but I have one sweeping, massive goal for the next thirty days:
NaNoWriMo, also known as National Novel Writing Month. Or, as the website bills it, “Thirty days and nights of literary abandon!” The goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days, or a novel approximately the length of Fitzgerald’s Gatsby. It doesn’t have to be a great novel, or even a good one. The point is to just do it, to sit down and write. And that’s the kind of screen time I can justify! This is my third year of trying it, and I’ve got a good feeling about actually finishing this year. I’ve got my outline and my cuppa Joe, and have started my first chapter – and I’ve set aside the time to really do it. Wish me luck – or even join me! Can’t find the time? Neither could I, until I started this smaller living adventure!