Welcome to the last week of the Tranquility by Tuesday Challenge! This next week’s rule is Rule #9: Effortful before effortless. This rule is all about making leisure time feel more satisfying.
Even the busiest people have some leisure time. The problem is that it is often unpredictable, short in duration, or happens at low-energy times (like at night after the kids go to bed). Screen time fits these constraints incredibly well. Most people have their phones with them at all times, and you can scroll online for 2 minutes or 2 hours. You don’t have to plan ahead to watch Netflix.
The result is that screen time winds up consuming the bulk of people’s leisure time. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a little online or TV-style fun. But many busy people also lament that they have too little time to read, do hobbies, etc. So there needs to be some way to repurpose low-quality leisure time for these higher quality pursuits.
The answer is Rule #9: Effortful before effortless. Commit to doing just a minute or two of “effortful fun” (reading, hobbies, crafts, connecting) before switching over to “effortless fun” (generally social media, scrolling, TV, etc.).
A few minutes doesn’t seem like a huge ask, so this strategy can feel pretty doable. But one of two things winds up happening. Often times, people get so into their effortful fun that they never switch over. You want to find out what happens in that mystery novel and you never wind up over at Facebook. Oh well! It will still be there next time.
But even if you do read for ten minutes and then go binge watch something the rest of the night, at least you’ve gotten to do both kinds of fun, and that can make leisure time feel far more balanced.
So, this week, think about what sorts of “effortful” fun you like to do. I enjoy puzzles, reading magazines, and reading books (not all great books…plenty of mindless fodder in there too). I try to keep ebooks on my phone so I can read those in little bits of time. I’ve set up my dining room table to be a puzzle station and generally have a 1000-piece puzzle going at any point.
Figure out how you can make your fun accessible, and then, when a spot of time opens up, challenge yourself to do one of these effortful forms of fun for just a little bit. This seems simple, but it can have a huge effect. In the Tranquility by Tuesday project (the subject of my most recent book), agreement scores with the statement “Yesterday I didn’t waste time on things that weren’t important to me” rose 32 percent over the course of the study. Not bad — especially for people whose lives didn’t suggest a lot of wasted time in the first place!
In other news: Wondering why the TBT week starts on Friday? It’s because of Rule #2: Plan on Friday. You can read more about that here.
Check out this TBT In Real Life video of how one busy woman decided to spend more time on effortful fun, rather than the effortless variety.