Where did my free time go?

vintage clock

Image by Amaia Li

Really, where did my free time go? I asked myself the other day when I realized that I would not have time to squeeze a 30-minute workout after I was done with writing but before getting dinner ready. I used to be able to do a long workout in the mornings and a short one in the afternoons on weekends. But that was before I started writing regularly (a.k.a. working on my book). Before Writing, it seemed that I had more free time even when I was going to college and holding a full-time a job at the same time. After Writing, I feel like I’ve been cutting down on all the other stuff I used to do for fun on the weekends like exercising, going out, watching TV, and reading. Yes, reading! I used to read at home! Thank goodness for bus commutes. They’re my reading time now.

But it will be unfair to blame my writing for eating up all my free time because in reality it hasn’t. The real culprit sneaked its way at about the same time I started writing and when we got Wi-Fi. Before Writing, I had a PC with no Wi-Fi capabilities. All I could do with that computer was do work. I couldn’t access the Internet unless I run a cable and plug it to my telephone jack. And then the connection was super slow.

Of course, in due time I decided to catch up with technology, and now that I have Internet access at my fingertips, well, the gates to distraction were thrown wide open. It’s amazing how much time one could spend just by surfing the Internet. Following one link after another one or browsing online stores can be relaxing, but if I don’t keep an eye on the clock, I could find myself spending two hours on the Web instead of the 10-minute break I first intended. Lengthy Internet surfing without a purpose can also leave me in a sort of a daze. I call it “the cobweb-ty feeling in my head.” And I don’t like it.

These days I use the timer not only to force myself to write when I have a block, but also to keep me from “wandering” to the Web when I’m writing. Exercising some self-discipline is also a good way to cut down on mindless Internet surfing. Lately, I’ve been telling myself to close down the Internet browser and pop my workout DVD in my computer or go play with Miss Kitty. Every time I walk away from unnecessary minutes or hours on the Internet, I make a real connection, one that involves being in the moment. And that’s where I find my free time again. When I consciously choose what I’m doing and where I’m, I’m using my free time. When I checked out of my head while Internet surfing, time drifts away. Free time is precious; use it well.

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