How I View My Free Time

“There’s never enough time..”

Time management is something that most everyone struggles with. There are only so many hours in the day and so much to do. Whenever I have time to myself, these options fall into one of three categories: fun, productive, relaxing. If I spend too much time not dedicated to one of those categories then, by my own definition, I am wasting time. For example, I may catch myself aimlessly scrolling social media on my phone or spiraling down a YouTube black hole. I try not to waste time like this too much, but it happens.

Usually, one of those three categories would be screaming for my attention. Perhaps there is some party to attend or a tee time at a golf course or some movie I really want to watch, then it’s time for fun. Or maybe there are errands to run or repairs to attend to or bills to pay, then it is time to be productive. Sometimes, especially in my days as a shift worker, my body would call for a nap or my mind would call for meditation; then it is time to relax. An entire day without focusing on at least one of these categories would border on the edge of a wasted day. On a good day, two of the three could be addressed. A day that addresses all three would be exceptional.

Of course, this all changes with marriage and children. Now, all three categories only take into account one of three time groups; the other two being my wife and my daughters. If I spend the entire day focusing on my own fun or productivity or need to relax, then I neglect my duties as a husband and father. Fortunately, the time I spend with the daughters can be categorized similarly: fun, productive, relaxing. With the girls, there is always a desire to have fun, always a need to be productive, always an opportunity to relax. This may evolve as they get older and probably will not want to spend time with their dad anymore. For now, life with them is relatively simple.

However, time with my wife is a little more complicated. The way my wife prioritizes fun/productivity/relaxation does not always match how I do. In fact, it feels like it rarely does. Our daughters’ categories are indicated on more of a binary scale (ex. “Clearly they should finish dinner instead of eating more candy”) whereas my wife’s categories are measured like a bizarre series of thoughts: “I really need a nap but I need to eat too,” “we have to go to the grocery,” “I want some boba,” “I miss jiu-jitsu,” “my coworkers want to hang out,” etc. Everyday is this frustratingly fun game of “what’s the plan today?” Somewhere in there, my wife prioritizes fun or rest or work above the other two. Subsequently, it is up to me to determine if her priorities match mine and then, more importantly, what we are going to do about it. Sometimes, it means we split up for parts of the day to optimize efficiency. Other times, it means that one of us selflessly gives into the other’s game plan. Candidly, there are times when we abandon all logic and give ourselves a break from all of it. Then comes a layer of unexpected challenges to make things even more interesting. It is no wonder that simple chores like giving the girls a bath or brushing their teeth can seem like the tallest of tasks.

While this concept of time management can seem exhausting, it is ours to own and appreciate. The experiences that proper time management reveal can bring joy that is unmatched and unfound anywhere else. This serves as a reminder, at least to me, that time may be more precious now than it has ever been. Time is a resource that can lead to great memories and successes, but it is also a currency that is constantly being depleted, cannot be recouped, and whose remaining balance is unknown. Time is a gift and an asset unlike any other. We owe it to ourselves to discover it, cherish it, and use it wisely.

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