Taking back my leisure time

Many years ago I was severely burdened with work and organizational stress. There were other things going on in my head that complicated matters but I would work myself into exhaustion frequently. Instead of resting after that, I would commit myself to assisting various organizations that I belonged to with arbitrary tasks. Part of my healing process was to force myself to say no more frequently and to just do nothing once in a while.

These days I'm in a good place. The last phase of burnout has subsided and I'm not exactly thriving but I'm certainly moving forward steadily. I've learned to guard my personal time even when I feel guilty that I have it.

I've replaced the bulk of the time I spent on different organizations with time in the gym. Both traditional exercise and in the MMA gym. The drive here is that I can't help getting old but I might be able to avoid getting sick and old. Grappling and striking also gives me something to practice and get better at that's not my job. Competitions provide high water marks for my progress. The side effect of this is that I'm physically away from my family more frequently but I think our time together is of greater quality now because my mind is clearer and I can be present.

I've also cut back on my contract work that I do outside of my full time job. At one point in my life I wanted to freelance full time and I had a great run of it. The feast or famine cycle made me very uneasy, so when I gained a little success I went back to full time work. A major issue during that time was that I didn't reduce my contract hours and I was over working myself severely.

Much as I've replaced my organizational time with gym time, I have reclaimed a bunch of my contract time with “lazy” activities. These days I only do a couple of hours a week of contract work (unless a fun one off contract opportunity shows up). The time I was spending on side work before is spent enjoying family, two wheeled transportation, soccer, leisure programming/devops, walking, books, videos, video games, etc.

I feel like I have a better balance in life now. There was a lot more than just time to let go of but time was one of the major issues. Reclaiming my leisure time allowed me to decompress enough to work through the other hurdles. I see burnout as a cyclic thing (at least in my industry). By understanding that I can't do it all (and I can't make all the money) I can focus on doing/learning enough and spacing it out far enough that it's still enjoyable.

Dear reader, I hope you find the source of your troubles and manage to create your own balance.