Revisiting trade-offs and consciously consuming time

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about the ever-present trade-offs in my life; this latest round of soul-searching was prompted by the fact that I spent multiple days last week too exhausted to do anything. Everyone needs a day off here and there, but half a week spent on the couch? That’s obviously an opportunity to start questioning the choices that led me there (although to be fair I got a lot of reading done!).

I’ll be the first to admit I’m still not great with time management on a day-to-day basis. That’s a constant work in progress. But I’m starting to think that there are two big things I’ve been doing with my time that aren’t necessarily worth it. Curious what they are? Let’s dive right in.

Also since her post came out a day before mine, it now looks like I’m copying Angela’s post from yesterday about the cost of saying yes to things. I promise I was thinking about this before yesterday and it’s really her fault for being in my head and posting a day before I do 😉

Life of a choir nerd

If you’ve been reading for a while or follow me on Twitter, you probably know that I sing in a choir. Attending rehearsals for that necessitates about an hour commute one way since I refuse to drive there, and I try not to take a rideshare home unless it’s legitimately miserable out—I’m hardcore about walking in gross weather, but having to walk to the metro and then home from the metro when we’ve got windchills in the teens or below is a hard pass for me when it’s that late at night and I’m tired. Plus then it only takes me 20-30 minutes to get home and that’s almost impossible to pass up some nights.

I resent the commute, but there’s a dearth of free community choirs in this city; as someone who did chorus from middle school through college, I really enjoy still being able to sing in a group (#choirnerdforlife).

So I pay approximately $6 for the metro each night I have rehearsal and chalk that and the two hours of travel up to the price of doing something I love (plus health-wise it’s good for me since I get a lot of extra walking in that usually adds up to about seven miles on rehearsal days!).

We just had our concert for the season, so we’re on break for a while. I have to say I’m especially relieved about that this year.

I’m too tired for this

For years I’ve begrudged how late rehearsal nights are for me. If I’m lucky and manage to catch a train relatively quickly (there’s nothing like having to wait until 10:40 some nights for a train to make me infinitely thankful my lifestyle means I don’t regularly have to take the metro), I get back home at 11 pm (when I should be going to bed, now that I’ve changed it from 11:30 to 11:00). Which means I typically don’t go to sleep until midnight. In addition to getting ready for bed I need time to get my heart rate down from the speed walking I did on the way home from the metro so I could get home and in bed as early as possible #fastwalkerproblems #sleepypersonproblems

But generally, rehearsal is once a week, sometimes twice, unless it’s right before a concert. I can handle that in order to do something I love (and it helps when I like the music we’re singing that particular season haha), and I do love it. It’s why, years later, I’m still singing in this choir despite rehearsal eating up an entire night of the week and ensuring I’m almost always tired on Wednesdays.

Singing while and blogging

But now that I’m a blogger, that lack of sleep is compounded since then I’m usually up too late on Wednesday nights writing posts. And likely was up too late writing on Monday night as well. Obviously three late nights in a row at the beginning of the week is not optimal. No wonder I’m so damn tired by the end of the week (and I think writing this out is the first time I’ve actually realized that all of this does happen three nights in a row).

Rehearsal has even shaped my posting schedule: once upon a time I figured I’d go for a Monday/Wednesday schedule because those were random days that sounded good, but I quickly changed that. I still may not know exactly what I’m doing with the blog (and certainly didn’t back then!) but even then I knew trying to publish a post the morning after spending my entire evening at rehearsal was trouble. Maybe I intuitively knew my default would be writing the night before, oops! So I’m on a Tuesday/Thursday schedule instead to account for rehearsal Tuesday nights.

Is this still worth it?

But I’ve been juggling blogging and rehearsal for a while now. It wasn’t great towards the end of last year but it was certainly doable. But so far this year’s felt different. Maybe it’s that I’m actually trying to stick to a regular posting schedule and not skipping days just because it’s inconvenient to write a post (if I’m being honest, that’s every damn day!). Maybe it’s because this teeny corner of the internet now has a few dedicated readers, where before I was just writing into the void so what did it matter if I didn’t write halfway-decent posts on a set schedule? I’m sure working most weekends since mid-October and therefore losing that free time has also played into it.

So I’m not sure exactly why, but starting in January rehearsal felt like a much bigger obligation than it had previously. Getting through these latest concerts felt like a monumental task. More so than ever, I’m ecstatic to have my Tuesday evenings back for a while.

Perhaps it was just a function of some really bad timing. I got back from CampFI and jumped right into a week where five of seven days were either rehearsal nights or concert days (and it was only four for me since I got back from CampFI on Monday and promptly skipped rehearsal that night. I thought about going for the first half and leaving early, and then laughed at myself and went to bed at 9 pm like I desperately needed to). I needed time to recover from camp and didn’t have it, and I usually need time to recover from concert weekends anyway. So all of that recovering happened all at once last week in the form of many, many unproductive evenings spent parked on the couch.

But given how many evenings in the last few months I wanted to skip rehearsal, I suspect it’s not all about the bad timing. Yeah, I absolutely need to figure out how to write posts faster/more than a few hours in advance and get some lined up for days I just can’t make it work to reduce my Monday and Wednesday late nights. But I’m extremely happy to be able to go to barre tonight and then to bed on time instead of trekking to rehearsal.

Reevaluating in the future

At the moment my plan is to return to chorus and sing in our next concert. But after that happens in November or December I think I’m going to have to think long and hard about whether to keep singing.

For years I’ve been joking that going to rehearsal keeps me out of trouble, but it’s not like if I stopped going I’d suddenly be spending every Tuesday evening at happy hour. As much as I love it, if it’s a question of this blog or chorus, the blog comes first. Singing in a group is a powerful, wonderful thing, as well as a form of community. But the community I’ve found since I started writing here is too important for me to give up (and I feel like things would change if I were still around but not writing).

Singing in the shower or while driving is nothing like singing in a group. But I do those fairly frequently and they’d keep my voice in reasonable shape if I stopped attending regular rehearsals. There are other groups I can sing with in the future.

Side-hustling my weekend away

Since I started my part-time job in October, my strategy has pretty much been to work every weekend I’m in town/otherwise available. This has meant for the most part I work a Saturday shift (sometimes an early Sunday one as well) and try to cram all of my socializing and Responsible Adult Things into one day of the weekend (and hope if something was going on during the day on a Saturday I was working second shift, not first, so I could attend).

That worked out okay in the winter when I wasn’t going to be spending time outside anyway (don’t @ me, I will never not hate the cold), but it is absolutely not going to fly from here on out. I’ve got a national parks pass and trails to be hiking on weekends instead.

See? Places to go

So I’m trying to figure out my summer strategy for work for the next few months.

Harder than I thought it would be

I always said I was going to cut back when the weather got nicer, but now that I’m here, I’m finding it hard to pass up opportunities to make more money. Or perhaps that’s just because I couldn’t work the previous two weekends, and then worked two and a half shifts this past weekend to make up for it. Given that I haven’t gotten that extra paycheck for two weeks, I’m very much looking forward to getting paid this week for those multiple shifts.

I don’t need my second job, especially since I’m about to be debt-free. Although you could argue that I do need it since I’m currently working towards FI at a practically imperceptible speed. My second job gets me to just a largely imperceptible speed, which is obviously still too damn slow.

Life isn’t about the money

Then again, I’m not working towards financial independence for the money (other than the fact that one day I want to say goodbye to my money anxiety for good). I want it for the possibilities it opens up and so I can spend my time doing things I love. Every weekend I work is a weekend in which I limit my ability to spend time with friends, read, learn new things, work on my overwhelming blog to-do list, spend time outside, go hiking, travel, explore new places, exercise, cook new things, and do my damn laundry. Or even to sit and let myself do nothing, a skill I am notoriously bad at but would love to improve upon.

Sure, doing those things instead of working on the weekend is a suboptimal decision from a money standpoint. But from a life standpoint, which isn’t actually about money at all, working every single weekend is constraining and suboptimal.

A new approach

We recently added regular Sunday hours back in the schedule. So I think I’m going to experiment with trying to work Saturday and Sunday one weekend and taking the next one completely off.

There are going to be some growing pains with this strategy at first because it’s going to be hard to pass up the opportunity to work for an entire weekend. But I’m determined to give myself opportunities to actually live life instead of trying to keep fitting everything into one day. I’ve spent the last six months saying yes to every opportunity to work an extra shift, so it’s time for me to sometimes say no for a while.

Conscious consumption of time

I’ve spent a lot of time over the last year reevaluating how I spend money and making sure when I do spend it, it’s not mindlessly. I’m making conscious decisions to spend money on things that bring me value. Until now, I haven’t really done the same for how I spend my time, which is by far the more precious resource since I can’t get any of it back once it’s gone.

So, it’s apparently a season of change for me. Anyone else reexamining some of their choices lately around how you spend your time?

9 Replies to “Revisiting trade-offs and consciously consuming time”

  1. I love reading other people’s thought processes when it comes to the use of their time. To me, it always becomes a question of what is really most important. If it’s not the money, then it’s not the money. I think you know that I’ve been re-evaluating my time lately, specifically the time I spend on social media and on my phone in general. But it’s hard when that is where your community is (like ours!). By the way, I’m totally on side blog over side choir (because I think your blog is awesome)!

  2. Girl yes, all of this. The blog roadblock of no-photo-uploads meaning no new posts has actually made me re-examine that… it is sort of nice to not have the pressure of writing hanging over me. I’m thinking an extended summer blog break and maybe figure it out again in the fall, or I might have to start over if I cannot figure the issue out and solve it. Life is a journey that’s always changing, you have to figure out what is best for you in this particular season. We support you no matter what! (But obvs please keep writing 😉 )

  3. Time and energy are such valuable, finite resources. I totally get you (especially a someone with a chronic illness — I have a plethora of time but a very small amount of energy). I finally have a social life, and it’s taken a toll on the blog. I’d rather be chatting with my friends from the trivia group or going out with them, so blogging has started to feel like arduous. I have no intention of quitting. Like you, I value the community (especially my readers) too much. But it’s a tough thing to face when something I used to be maniacal about now can feel like a burden at times. Alas, I have no answers (obviously) but I just wanted to say that I feel ya.

  4. This post did not disappoint, so I will not be deleting my pre-read promote tweet.

    I’ve often gotten into little arguments with my husband about how I spend my time. I’ve thought about tracking everything I do and seeing how it aligns with my values, but I already know I’m not spending my time wisely. For example, I spend a lot of time on social media even though there isn’t an obvious return. It’s just so damn fun!

    If you don’t need the money, I’m liking the idea of you reducing your second job hours. Weekends are pretty precious! For me, too, it’s really the only time I get to hang out with my friends, etc. Sometimes I know that doing that means my blog post will be late, but in those cases, I’m consciously choosing me over the blog. It’s important to choose yourself every once in a while. Otherwise, life is way less fun.

  5. I’ve also been reevaluating how I spend my time. For me it’s been a lot about simply saying no to more things I don’t want to do (as I highlighted in my post) but I like how this is more directed towards saying yes to things to do want to do. Having a lot of good choices makes it hard!

    I totally think that summer strategy is a good one though to give you a lot more free time!

  6. The struggle is real! And honestly, your schedule is stressing me out a little. I have less commitments and still feel like I don’t have enough free time. Don’t feel guilty about taking some time off, especially during the summers. I’m the same in that way, buckle down in the winter and take time off in the summer.

    I know exactly what you mean about the blogging community. I’ve for sure had those moments where I feel overwhelmed by blogging but I don’t feel like being a part of the community would be the same without being a contributor.

  7. Hey where were you during the karaoke at CampFI??

    I am also trying to work on being disciplined about a daily routine, which includes saying yes or no. #challenging

  8. I’m struggling with time management even though I scaled back my W2 job to half-time. I think most of us have more things we’d like to do than we actually have time to do. So when I freed up 20 hours a week in my schedule, my brain subliminally added 30. That math doesn’t work, especially since I started my b log last November.

    Maybe you could find a choir that meets less frequently or is less of a time commitment?

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