How often do you say ‘I’m bored’?
I can’t remember the last time I was bored.
I used to say it a lot when I was a child. Almost every day. I had so much time I didn’t know what to do with it. I’d go and whinge to Mum and Nan until they found me something to do. It usually amounted to going out somewhere, plonking me in front of the TV, or putting a game on the PC for me to play.
Fast forward twenty years and I don’t have the time to be bored. What with a full-time job, long-term relationship, chores, commuting, writing books, writing poetry, writing blog posts, social media, marketing, graphic design, sewing, baking, cooking, reading and socialising, there’s just too much to do!
I’ve recently come to realise that boredom is a luxury for those that have too much time on their hands. If you’re bored, you’re lucky.
And also incredibly unlucky.
You have the luxury of too much time on your hands, something which can also encourage bad habits. If you don’t want to do something or lack the motivation, you don’t feel compelled to do it straight away because you have no other pressing concerns to get in the way. You don’t have to be at work the following day (or in a few hours), you don’t have to look after the kids: your time is yours.
And I pity you.
When it comes to self-discipline, you have the hardest task of all.
At the height of my self-hatred in 2012, this was my problem. I had all the time in the world, and because of that, I had no idea what to do with it. I had no one to hold me accountable, and anything I didn’t want to do immediately (which was everything), I could put off indefinitely.
Unfortunately, this procrastination leads to even worse habits. It’s the not having achieved something in so long that feeds the self doubt that calls you a failure. It’s your lack of goals that makes you question your life and where it’s going. It’s your lack of structure and routine that makes it difficult to achieve anything. It’s also this lack of structure and routine that makes finding the impetus to achieve anything so likely.
How to overcome boredom
Set a goal
Let’s say your goal is to finish writing your current novel. Pick a date to finish it. If you’re not sure, break it down and go for the date to finish your first draft instead.
Tell people—as many people as you can—what your goal is, and when you want to achieve it by. There are sites that allow you to donate money to charity should you fail.
Meet up (virtually or physically) with the people who know your plan regularly and update them. They can help you if you’re stuck, and help you to work out a plan.
Plan your day(s)
Decide how you want to spend your time, and do it. Mornings could be writing, afternoons could be marketing, evenings socialising/downtime. Whatever works for you.
Even if you don’t feel like writing, sit down and do it anyway. It may feel like walking through custard, but you’ll be proud of yourself once it’s over.
X marks the spot
Each time you work on your goal, make a note in your diary, on social media, or somewhere else you can see it.
This is a tactic used by Seinfeld, and you’ll find it recommended on many productivity and lifehack websites.
You get used to seeing that mark that indicates you’ve achieved something, and when it’s not there, you miss it.
Over to You
Having a lot of time on your hands sounds great, but in reality it as much of a curse as having too little time.
What tips help you to manage your time?
Check out more excerpts from Productivity for Writers: