Many of us feel like we don’t have a lot of recreational free time these days. In fact, we have more time than we think, but the problem is that much of it seems to come in small spurts — good for watching TV, but not for things that help us truly “recreate.”
While I was writing 168 Hours, one of the tips people gave me for getting more out of your leisure time is to force open blocks of time into your schedule. Challenge yourself to finish work early, or designate a certain evening as a family recreation night. Then make sure you plan ahead to know what you want to do during those times.
I’m trying to do that this fall. I’m never terribly efficient on Friday afternoons anyway. I tend to finish the work projects I have to get done before then, and while I could start researching or pitching something new, it’s usually easier just to send random emails, look at Facebook, read headlines, etc. So as I’m gearing back up into working post-Sam’s birth, I’m consciously trying to stop work by 1pm or 1:30pm on Fridays. Once Sam is fed and happy, I’ll load him into the Baby Bjorn and go see something fun in the city (Jasper is in preschool during these afternoons, though I tend to pick him up pretty early on Fridays, too).
This past Friday was my first attempt at this scheduled Mommy-and-Me time. Sam and I wound up going to the Morgan Library. I stopped in on a lark — I’d kind of forgotten the museum was there on Madison — but I was really glad I did. I got to see the original drawings Maurice Sendak did when he was writing Where The Wild Things Are, see some Puccini original scores, some Fragonard drawings and William Blake’s engravings and hand-written poetry. Oh, and a Gutenberg Bible. In particular, I was heartened to read a hand-scrawled note from Sendak as he plodded through the original version of Where The Wild Things Are (it had something to do with wild horses…and it wasn’t that good). He noted that the story simply couldn’t be forced, and so he was abandoning it. Of course, a few years later, the idea came gallumping back in the wild rumpus we are all familiar with. Writing is rarely a smooth process. So anyway, not only did I get to see great art and spend time with Sam, I learned that even genius story-tellers have rough spots. Not bad for a Friday afternoon stroll! Hopefully, this is a harbinger of good Fridays to come.