The Personal Disquiet of

Mark Boulton

Strategising about how to create more Spare Time

– July 28th, 2007 –

We’re all busy. I know that. Just indulge me, okay?

For the past month, I’ve been chasing my tail and it’s beginning to show. The permanent four o’clock shadow; the dark rings under my eyes; and the ability to fall asleep at the drop of a hat—something I’ve never suffered with before.

This morning, I went along to the Cardiff Flower Market with The Wife at the incredibly ‘un-weekendly’ time of 7.15am. Whilst bathing in the early morning sunshine, I was trying to think about how to create more time so I can balance off the crazy time of it recently. I reached some sort of conclusion based on a book I read last year—The Power of Full Engagement—which was recommended by my best mate, Phil. The conclusion I reached was; it’s not about how much time you have, or how you use it, it’s about finding balance by adding routine and triggers.

Managing Energy

Power of Full Engagement can be summerised as being about managing energy—not stress, or time—is the key to a balanced, happy life. Oh, how simple it sounds. By taking note of your body—when you’re tired, unwell, or in need of a boost, whatever—and acting upon it instead of ignoring it. Many people sing the praises of having a 20 minute nap in the afternoon. This is what the book is talking about, in part. Putting small routines and triggers in place throughout your day to achieve a more balanced approach to your daily life.

Shoes on. Shoes off.

When I started freelancing this time last year, I worked at home. I carried on until a couple of months ago and, on the whole, found it quite easy. One of the little tricks I got from the book worked incredibly well in providing a little bit of mental separation between home and work.

In the morning, I’d say cheerio to The Wife, put my shoes on and walk around the block. I did this every day. When I returned, I didn’t take my shoes off. That was key—I felt like I was walking to work and whilst at work, I kept my shoes on. In the evening, after work, I’d take them off. Creating this psychological trigger, by instilling a strict routine, helped me cope enormously by being in the same four walls every day. Of course, now I’m lucky enough to be working in an office 25 minutes drive away, so it’s not too much bother.

Where’s the Time

Like I said at the start—everyone’s busy. Being the Director of a small business—as many of you are—you’ll understand I’ve got quite a lot to do. I’m the salesman, the accountant, the receptionist, the designer/developer/art director, and finally the tea boy. I need some help. I’ve decided to hire another designer (I’ll be posting a blog post shortly about that—in addition to an ad). I’m hoping that will help me with my time. And what time I do find myself with, I need to start managing it better, by managing my energy better. To do that, I need some routines and triggers.

Mid-Summer Resolutions

Normally promises to yourself are made at New Year, but I’m going to make some now. I need more balance. To get that balance, I need to start doing the things I enjoy again in my ‘spare’ time: Boxing/Martial Arts, Angling, Surfing/Snowboarding. These pursuits have one thing in common—they require you to be ‘in the moment’. In boxing, or any martial art, if you’re not in the moment, you’re going to get hurt. The same is for surfing or snowboarding. Angling is a little different; you just won’t catch anything.

So, this afternoon I’m going to dust off the bag gloves and head down to the gym. I’m going to find a weekend I can go angling. But, before all that, I’m going to write a job ad for a designer…

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