We no longer spend sun-up to sun-down milking cows, harvesting hay, and scrubbing our laundry on washboards. Studies show modern Americans — even parents — do have leisure time. But one reason we feel we don’t have leisure time is that it often comes in little chunks of “time confetti” in Brigid Schulte’s phrase — a few minutes spent gazing upon the beauty of this magnolia tree in my front yard before getting my kids dressed — rather than obvious leisure time at the spa.
But we probably have time for spa visits too, which brings me to an unplanned experiment I’m about to be conducting in me time, and the motivation to make it happen.
My 4-year-old’s (and next year, the 2-year-old’s) pre-school hosts a silent auction every spring. We know a lot of the parents by this point, it’s the only fundraiser the school does, and let’s just say the drinks were flowing freely when we went a few weeks ago. While some people get more social and forget to bid on items when they drink, I become competitive and want to win. Net result: We walked off with a bunch of baskets that included gift certificates for massages, pedicures, boutique shopping, etc. (all totaling less than retail value!)
Here’s where a different motivation kicks in: I’m cheap. I hate to buy things and not use them. I know a lot of silent auction items go unused, but not by me. I made use of every single thing I won last year at this auction, from front row Sixers tickets to a photo package, to my B. Makowsky purse I carry every day (bought for half off retail!). Now I’m trying to make good on every darn spa certificate before they expire.
This is going to take some effort. I’m starting a spreadsheet and listing each certificate, and getting myself on a schedule of using one every 2 weeks or so. (There is an out, of course: I have friends who’ll be getting a few of these too — especially for manicures, which I don’t care for). It’s a regimented approach to leisure, but here’s the funny thing. I’m pretty sure I’ll enjoy getting my facials and shopping at this little boutique that’s less than a mile from my home that I’ve never been to. Aligning my incentives for leisure with both the cheap and type A aspects of my personality will probably increase the quantity of fun in my life. And that’s not a bad thing.
In other news: There’s a piece in Fast Company quoting Brigid about Why You Should Stop Bragging About How Busy You Are. I interviewed her for a Fortune piece recently on The Leisure Revolution That Never Came.