That Tyrant, Choice

(In which I finally have time, and must decide what to do with it)

The fault, dear reader, lies not in my stars, but in myself.

The fault, dear reader, lies not in my stars, but in myself.

After six months of not having a job (other than stay-at-home dad) I’ve finally reached a stage where I feel like I can concentrate on Getting Stuff Done.

I’ve got the house (and most importantly, kitchen) the way I want it, I’ve got a routine for looking after the children (trips to museum/park/indoor playground in the morning, home for lunch, tidying up during the post-lunch nap, then more sedate activities in the afternoon before making dinner at 5pm) and have managed to carve a small but significant amount of time to myself after dinner. It’s time waiting for me to fill it.

Ah, but what to fill it with? I want to do so much, and there’s definitely not time to do it all. I’ve got so much on my to do list that, paradoxically, when I have the chance to do it, I end up surfing the net or watching Netflix instead. I’m overwhelmed by choice. Doing fiction writing means I’m not doing any of the other things I want to do!

It’s a preposterous state of affairs, and it cannot continue. In an attempt to ensure it doesn’t, I’m drawing up a set of rules and categorising the things I want to do into two sets: Work and Play. They’re pretty arbitrary to be honest (all of the stuff in the Work category is stuff I enjoy and would like to do as a leisure activity) but important to fit in with the rules:

  1. I can’t do any Play things before 9pm on a weekday.
  2. have to do Work between 7pm (or whenever we’ve finished eating dinner) and 9pm.
  3. I should finish Work at 9pm and do something in the Play category but it’s not the end of the world if I don’t.
  4. If I should get any time during the day to do something that’s not house-husbandry or parenting, it’s got to be work.

That splits up my free time into two periods, and gives me less choice of what to do during those periods.

‘Work’ is fiction writing, blogging, freelance writing, making games and a couple of other Secret Things. ‘Play’ is reading, playing games, watching films or TV or anything else really.

The next stage, after having split my to-do list into two lists, and having identified times for each list, is to come up with a priority order for Work. That way, when I’m working, I won’t have to choose what to do because I’ll be doing the highest priority task. Currently that’s making a game. It’s only a small, silly game, designed to get me used to working in Objective-C and on a Mac (which I’ve never used before). I’ve given myself three weeks to get it to Alpha – or ‘first draft’ – status. After that, I’ll have to make another decision, but hopefully the fact that I now know what I’m working on for most of May will mean I actually get it done.

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