habits · time

On balance: finding time for new things

What is one to do when one enjoys too many things? The largest chunk of my day is usually spent working, anywhere between 8 to 10 hours on a given day (lately, I’ve been working a lot). I try to exercise as much as possible. Swimming, bouldering, cycling, running… running has been falling off my plate a bit lately, after my not-half-marathon. The weather got worse and it gets dark early now, so running in the evenings isn’t an option for me as I don’t like running in the dark very much. I like to spend some time each day lounging on the couch, too – reading, watching stuff on Netflix, and relaxing.

Now I’ve discovered a new thing. Bear with me: it’s role playing games. My partner has been an avid player since before I even knew him. He plays Dungeons & Dragons (aka D&D) regularly once a week with his friends over Discord, a Skype-like app. They go on for hours and seem to have a lot of fun adventuring and fighting all sorts of fantastic creatures. I used to make fun of him a lot. He has accused me of being a hobby snob and I admit he’s not wrong. I don’t much care for dragons and the glorification of the medieval (there was little in the way of education for most people and no healthcare worth speaking of, women were persecuted as witches, it must have been very smelly – need I go on?), of which there is a lot in D&D. Fantasy is not my genre; I haven’t seen a single episode of Game of Thrones.

Role-playing dice on a table.
A bunch of role-playing dice on a table. These dice are very fancy, they range from four sides to twenty and are used to determine different outcomes during a game, for example how well a character performed a spell.
Photo credit: Jaime Ochoa (Creative Commons licence)

Then I came across this article about how the author got hooked on D&D from a queer storytelling perspective, and I got intrigued. Very intrigued. Long story short, I now have two sessions under my belt and, despite myself, I must admit I enjoyed myself very much – so much so that I could see myself doing more of this in future. It’s fun to immerse yourself in a story and assume the identity of a character that can be essentially whatever you want it to be.

But my days are already packed! After the session on Wednesday, my partner and I immediately got into an argument because I got stressed as the laundry wasn’t done, the place was a mess, etc. etc. – even though I’d had a really, really good time. It feels like if I want to accommodate this new thing, something else will have to give. And I really, really don’t want that something to be my exercise routine. I’m going to have to find ways to adjust, and maybe it’ll turn out that I won’t be playing D&D regularly after all. I don’t want to exclude the option of making room for this new interest right away, either. I know I’m a serial overcommitter, but there are so many things out there to be tried!

I also wonder to what extent the fact that I am even asking myself these questions is influenced by my gender. I have a tendency to place duty above all other things, and unfortunately “duty” tends to be things like housework. I don’t know if this would be any different if I was a man, but the fact is that part of my argument with my partner revolved around my inability to let some things go. He has a much easier time of it than I do. By this I don’t mean that he skirts his duties in any way; by all accounts we have quite an even split of things like housework (he does more) and life admin (I do more). But he also finds it much easier to just ignore these things while he’s having fun.

So I wanted to raise this question to the community here: how do you balance different interests, especially when they come on top of an already busy daily workload? Also, what are you into aside from fitness-related activities? I’m curious, hit me with your favourite non-exercise pastimes!

10 thoughts on “On balance: finding time for new things

  1. Interesting. I find these days I feel a little guilty all the time for not doing enough housework, but not enough to do more. Aside from exercising, cooking/baking, having the off meal:drink with friends, netflixing/relaxing, not a lot of hobbies. I keep telling myself I should be doing more vocational work in my spare time (still working on inspiring my career) but don’t do much there either. Usually by the time I get home from work, (usually exercise in morning), make dinner, tidy up, I just want to relax with my husband who is the same way.

    1. I’m so jealous of people who can exercise in the morning like you. That would definitely allow me to get more in. I can do it if absolutely necessary, like this summer when it was too hot to run at any other time than early in the morning. But I find it really hard to get going for anything more than yoga right after getting up.

  2. I agree it’s a struggle. I can work and exercise and read books, watch the occasional movie, go to the occasional concert but I don’t have non-physically active hobbies or social events in my life really. I used to play cards a lot with the kids when they were younger but not now. I suspect it’s a thing we all struggle with. Retirement? That’s a long way off for you. Play games over the holidays or on vacation?

    1. For people with jobs like yours, how do you do it? You must be really good at that work-life balance thing and I’d love to take a page out of your book. I imagine the temptation to be always “on” and somehow “working” and skip other things can get quite strong. Is that true?

      Re: playing games, I think you are right, I can probably fit it in every once in a while. The good thing is I could potentially choose how many times a month I’d like to play, so that is something to consider. I’ll see how it goes…

      1. I work long days during the week but I’ve always been good at being off when I’m at home. I think that started when I had kids. I’ve never successfully had a home office. I also take real vacations and time off each weekend.

  3. No solutions, but I also have a huge number of mostly neglected hobbies and have recently added gaming to the mix. I’m also partnered with a life long gamer who is dungeon master for a family adventure we now play with our daughter. Only saving grace for me is that my favourite exercise also comes with creative and social opportunities so it can feel like multiple hobbies rolled into one.

    1. I LOVE that you play as a family! It’s true, in that sense I’m also lucky because I swim with a team and we get along very well and sometimes do stuff outside of swimming, so it comes with a nice social element. But yeah, it would be nice if the day had a few more hours… 😉

  4. It’s not easy. I sing in a chorus that rehearses 2 hours every week, effectively eliminating any other evening activity on Tuesdays. I volunteer at a community radio station and have to get up early on Mondays for my shift, effectively eliminating any late Sunday evening activity. I also spend around 10-15 hours on related volunteer tasks for the station, but for most of those, I can spend a Saturday or Sunday rotating through laundry and doing minimal housecleaning as breaks from desk work. Fitting in time with friends or other hobbies (like cross-stitch) often means not making time for things like food prep and deep house cleaning. Those are trade-offs I’m willing to make. Fitness time is easier to squeeze in during my lunch break or before/after work because my gym is a five minute walk from my office and includes a shower if I need that.

    1. That is a lot of commitments! I love that you do all this community stuff. And housework can definitely go on the back burner sometimes (as evidenced by our house right now… but at least I got a swim in today! 😉 )

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