The Value of Free Time

I don't really remember when is the last time I give myself a break, or simply relax for the sake of relaxation. It seems that I've forgotten to take a rest.

There are several reasons for it. First of all, I've always enjoyed my work. It is even unfair to call it "work" because I enjoy it so much. Second, I do take short breaks from time to time, but the purpose of those breaks is to make sure I can go back to my work refreshed. I've hardly had any chance just to "spend the free time".

So what has been keeping me "not free"? Deadlines of my work. There are always a "next item" on the agenda. It sometimes feels like that my calendar is chasing me. This feeling of "being chased" is depriving me of some pleasure of doing my work. It feels like that I have to finish the work so that I can hand it in, instead of that I am doing the work because I enjoy it.

I don't like this situation. So, it is time for me to remind myself of something.

First, I still love my work. Logic, philosophy, economic, China, energy resources, politics... These works still increase my heart rate. I love the intellectual discovery and conquest. These works have direct impact on my life, on my future, and on the future of something else.

Second, I have to know that deadlines are not my enemies. I am also not their slave. I am the driver, and I make the choice. I should not allow deadlines to dominate my time table and take away my pleasure in working on wonderful things.

Third, I have to relearn the value of free time. Some time ago, I wrote down:

"I have decided that I will always keep at least 10% of my time and energy for "nothing". Only when the cup is empty, you can pour water in it. Good opportunity may arise. If you are fully occupied, you will lose the chance. Give your brain a bit of time to process the information on itself, without you giving it more work. It dramatically increases efficiency.

Otherwise we will be carried away by the world around us. We will become a little satellite that spins around our work. Even if you spend the 10% of time in merely sitting and day dreaming. it is such a pleasure!"

I knew it. And I should know it now. Simply free time. Give your brain a rest. Give your heart some room.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

good points! i especially feel that's relevant right now to some students. i have been sitting here at smith working for about six hours. my back is aching! even my body is telling me to take a break.

but i'm glad you feel dedicated to your work. i think you're someone who has found "flow" and therefore gratification in yourself and in your life. you lose sense of time when you get immersed in your work? i was reading the flow concept for class, introduced by a positive psychologist named Mihály Csíkszentmihályi (i definitely had to copy & paste that last name) and it really reminds me of people like you. no wonder you sound like a content, satisfied guy :)