This weekend seemed to be oddly one of the better weekends I've had in quite some time. I feel that certain things were accomplished, while not feeling "I didn't have a weekend". What was different this time than all those other weekends as of late?
Two Day Structure
Thinking about it now, late Sunday afternoon, I realized that I fell into a structure that worked well for me while living alone. Saturday is for errands, chores, and things that need to be done around the house. Sunday is for personal projects, things that are fun, but not for chores or errands if at all possible. By putting chores and errands on Saturday, they get done while I'm still working off the energy of the work week. By mid-afternoon or early evening, I can enter into a much more dedicated period of relaxation.
There's no reason why this can't work now that I share my house with my loved ones. Often the problem is that I'm often in such dire need of time to have "fun" that I put that first. The problem is, actually, my definition of "fun".
I have a big problem with relaxing in my free time. Often, I feel a lot like Mr. Scott in Star Trek: The Original Series. When Kirk asks, "Scotty, you're supposed to be relaxing!" And Scotty, his nose buried in technical journals replies, "I am relaxed!" Often I dedicate all my free time to my personal projects. Sometimes those projects can be a source of energy, renewal, and excitement. They can make me feel really, really good when things go well. I get a huge thrill from solving a problem or completing art, writing, or woodworking.
The problem is, I'm reluctant to admit, I can't keep doing that all the time.
For the last year I've been dealing with a career change. I used to be an IT consultant, then an IT education designer, and now a software developer. While they all involve problem solving, I'm often coding for both work and for fun. This can be very exhausting mentally and results in me feeling even worse by the time the weekend ends. Errands were rammed into where ever they fit. Time spend on projects never seemed enough, as I spent so much time wanting to work on them that in the end, I'm still too exhausted when I do allocate the time for them to do anything.
Project Time vs. Off Time
What occurred to me this weekend was to refine my idea of my free time. I can't spend all my free time working on projects. The mind needs time to recover if it is to be effective; a truism that I only grudgingly apply to myself. Yet, I still do want to work on my projects.
The solution is to refine my notion of free time. Project time is meant for me to work on my personal projects. This can be anything, but I should try to focus on one project at a time. That is, I should code, or write, or work in the woodshop. I shouldn't try to do all three in a single day. Off time is reserved strictly for non-productive activities. This can be games, watching movies, reading -- anything "non-productive".
Scheduling the Weekend
Looking at it, it comes together like this:
- Run errands in the morning.
- Do chores in the afternoon.
- Have off time in the evening.
- Stay up late, if desired.
- Sleep in, or try to at least.
- Work on projects in the late morning and afternoon.
- Off time in the evening.
- Turn in at a reasonable hour.
I have no idea if this will work, but I'd like to try to do that the next time I have a weekend. Next week I'll be at the Bay Area Drupal Camp (BADCamp), so obviously it'll be an exception.