‘So, what have you been up to?’ they ask one another. A wide variety of answers is given, yet one feeling overrules: confusion.
It has been a week since we lost our jobs and all time dedicated to our work has freed up magically. The question is, what do you do with that time? Time is the most precious asset, I belief, that exists in life, so it would be a shame to waste it.
How often wouldn’t we tell ourselves ‘If I had the time, I would …’ yet, now we have the time, I feel some don’t know what to do with it; whereas others feel guilty doing those ‘would activities’.
Our economic model has been so heavily based on economic productivity, economic growth, and hence the value of work, that we might feel lost when the backbone of our society is taken away.
If work does not dictate your life, what else does? If you were struggling with your work-life balance before, then it must be obvious that when work is taken out, life is left over. Yet, we feel guilty, or lost, or undetermined.
The Focus is Gone
Work is more than a time-occupying activity. Work gives meaning to life, a purpose to get up in the morning, a structure to plan your life around, a direction to your pathway. Work keeps you focused or distracted, depending on what you are looking for. Now, whole at the sudden, the focus is gone. The distraction is no longer there. There are heaps of time available, yet some might not know what to do with it.
Slowing down is permitted, even standing still, if that is a choice of you, rather than the result or consequence of getting lost. But as all of us have experienced before: the more time you have, the more time you will take. Which again, is all right, if that is your choice. Yet, it might feel odd, if you simply don’t know what to do with your time; if you look back at the end of the day, thinking ‘what have I done?’ and don’t know the answer, or don’t want to know it.
Hence, since work isn’t there anymore for many people or has slowed down, it is up to ourselves to fill in those other meanings of work.
The Rhythm of the Night
Work does not anymore dedicate when you have to wake up, show up, or make up. So, you have to find a new rhythm.
For some it might be all good for not having any rhythm at all, for others a kind of restless feeling my start sneaking in. The absence of a rhythm might even result in health problems, since not only our mind, but our body as well has and needs its schedule.
As an international freelance research journalist, I met a lot of travellers on my road. Heaps of them would be on a gap year, escaping the rat race of life; slowing down; calming down; just enjoying being there, but not really doing anything at all.
This is all fine, because they had chosen for it. Yet, even in those cases, people got lost if they surrendered to the infinity of time they had now available, rather than taking the driver wheel in hands and take control over their time.
Being there with the same infinity of time and no employer to dictate my schedule, I remember people envying me, because I had all time and determined my own life. ‘If they only could do the same, they would.’
Yet, they were the same ones that were still asleep when I woke up early morning and started my day, the same ones that meandered around in time while I was dedicated to get my research and writing done.
I did not blame them, facing the infinity of time available, it is up to every individual to decide how to spend it. But if you want to achieve something with the time you have, you have to start getting yourself on to it.
Corona learned us to master our own time; we have to learn to be conscious of it, and choose consciously what we will do with it. Just not to feel lost or restless.
Time is a valuable asset, so spend it wise.
Yet, it is difficult to set yourself a rhythm if you have no motivation to follow it. Moreover, work has given a big part of our life a meaning. It is not only a reason to get up every day, but as well a reason to live that day. A reason to keep going from Monday to Friday, a reason to enjoy the weekend – Sunday night blues.
Since Corona has taken that bit of a meaning away, we received the chance to give more meaning to our lives again. But, therefore, as in various other posts before, I recommend you to look inwards. If the world has been put on hold, hold on yourself. What is your reason to live for today? What is the element that is going to give purpose to this day? What is your goal to keep you going from Monday to Sunday – forget about the Sunday night blues, feel the daily rock-and-roll.
From boredom to wisdom.
These purposes can be as small or as big as you want to, as long as it gives meaning to you, as it makes you keep going.
For instance, think back at all those moments you said ‘If I would only have the time, I would…’. Make a list of all those things you ever told yourself you would do, and time was the only excuse. Think wide, think creative.
Turn your boredom into wisdom.
Take that online course you are interested at. Work out the business plan of that startup you envisioned (yet take the rapidly changing world into account). Clean up the garden, plant and harvest your own vegetables. Clean up your house, fix that shelve; write that book; watch that documentary; make that one phone call; organise your pictures; file your taxes; organise your computer; take the time to meditate, do that (online) yoga class, work out more, go for a run; prepare meals instead of fastfood; sit down and talk to one another while dining, rather than watching all on your phone or having a quick meal standing at your desk; make that painting with your daughter; build a (fake) airplane with your son; get your own creativity out of dust.
Now you have
Look deep within you. If you ever have said “If I only had the time”, well, now is the time. If you have ever said “If I could self-determine my time”, well, now is the time. I you have ever said “If everything was possible”, well now when a lot of things have become impossible (such as travelling, working, being along with friends), a lot of other things have become possible.
If the world starts running again tomorrow, and the start for another rat race has been given, what would you regret you not having done these months. What would you regret when the time is taken away again, and your work dictates the lion share of your existence again? How would your ideal day look like – within the limits of the possible – and where would you dedicate your time to?
What would you regret you not having done these months?
Take a close look at the time ahead. Appreciate its value, and ask yourself one question: ‘How do you want to remember your time in lockdown?’
This article is part of the series of Hope in Times of Corona. Read on how this times of self-isolation should not mean loneliness, on how you can contribute to this battle, on how gratitude lights up the dark, on how united we will stand strong. and on the most util strategy in awake of a crisis or on how I got blown of my feet as well, but caught by many caring hands, or on how being calm can get us through the storm. And what about Love in Times of Corona? or discovering your own talents? and why we need stories to hold on to; And especially how you can be creative and innovative. Or wait until tomorrow, when I’ll shine another light on yet another positive corner of this dark times.