Monday, June 13, 2011

Rough Schedules?

I am addicted to walking. Have been for roughly seven years now. I think I got into it unintentionally through biking. At first I was exercising on an exercise bike in the basement, and I took to biking outside when I got sick of being in the house. Then I got tired at not being able to look at the sky while biking, and so began walking. I discovered how greatly it enhanced my thoughts and soothed me, and maintained the habit regularly since then. Some of the most disappointing moments in my life were when the weather prohibited me from going on a walk, though some times I would just push through the unpleasantries anyhow.

However, I've noticed that lately, largely due to the success of my sensory enrichment experiment, I've been enjoying my walks to the extent that they've been taking up too much of my time and biting into my productivity. Given the complexity of the roads in my neighborhoods and the great variety available in routes, I just never get bored, which has led to me taking two-hour walks almost everyday last week. When I get home I'm so stuck in my contemplative mood that it's hard to break out of it and get to work on the activities before me, so I ought to do something to get it under control lest I let my goals go unpursued.

The issue is mainly that of indulging in an enjoyable activity without defined limits. Without criterion for judging, I too easily go overboard in my engagement and have it infringe on other areas in my life. What I'm thinking will serve well as the solution is imposing a rough schedule which will impose time limits on activities as these, but will still allow for great flexibility given that I'm largely only imposing time limits, not time frames in which I must complete an activity or the other. Getting Things Done has definitely served to improve the productivity in my life; I just need to find a way to balance out the proportions so that they favor the purposeful activities rather than the recreational ones.

While my thinking hasn't covered all areas of my life yet, I'm thinking at this point that I would do well to set an alarm that would set an upper limit on how long my walks can take, rather than allowing me to indulge in a thought process for a long as I please, which could amount to several hours. For now, I'm thinking of setting an alarm on my cell phone for 45 minutes on my walks, by which time it goes off I must begin trekking back home regardless of where I am on my planned route. Until I complete all of my daily goals I won't allow myself another walk unless I'm making for a special one, such as visiting the nearby nature preserve. From there I must get going and attack my other activities. I consider this a "rough schedule" since I'm approximately weighing how much time I'm dedicating to an activity, but am not pinpointing it to any particular time of the day.

Imposing limits has been very successful in the past, particularly in managing the time I spend on social networking sites such as Facebook. To reduce my time on that site I instilled the rule that I wouldn't get on it until after 5 PM or until twenty minutes before I leave for work, and before I complete all my daily goals I wouldn't allow myself more than twenty minutes on it. While my standards have increased to a half-hour now, I've found the practice so great that it has reduced any craving to dawdle idly on that site and that I maintain my rules nearly intuitively even though I have no written requirement about it. It's fused into the natural habits of my life and become emotionally accepted because of that, so I don't feel any cumbersome restriction to my desires because of it.

Additionally, to help further mitigate any idleness in my life I think I ought to impose a bedtime of midnight, because otherwise I tend not to engage in meaningful recreational activities. I've stopped doing my previous bedtime practices because I found taking a cold shower beforehand to be totally effective all on its own, practically negating any need for anything else beyond it. Though lately in my late-night recreation I tend to dawdle around since I don't desire to go to bed and yet cannot find myself authentically enjoying any activity, so I think I should impose another limit in order to set my emotions straight and make myself more disciplined by nature. The exception of the rule would be when I'm either home really late from work or am authentically enjoying a particular activity (making it essential to feeling mentally rested), which in that case I'll allow myself to stay up a half-hour beyond my normal time for the sake of enjoying life, excuse enough.

As for my other productivity habit where I timed myself in every activity, such as washing dishes or making my bed, I dropped it since it was so darn stressful trying to exert myself like that all the time. I might be a little slower without it, but at least it's probably better for my physical health, not to rush things all the time.

Hopefully this walking restriction proves to be another habit which integrates seamlessly into my life, which I cannot view myself as being without from then on.

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