Planning Leisure Time

touristbeach1.jpgYet another New York Times article caught my attention.

This one, written by Marci Alboher, is about Leisure Time, and it made my mind wander to the years I lived in New Jersey, the times I have visited New York to work and the life I now live in Jamaica.

For cultural reasons, the importance of leisure time is well understood here in Jamaica, even when we think our lives become hectic. It’s part of the reason people pay thousands of dollar to vacation here — in a place where it’s always warm, people are more connected with each other and the tropical weather often intervenes to slow things down without warning.

Alboher predicts that Americans will be focusing much more on leisure in the near future. The Baby Boomers are entering the retirement phase, and they are going to produce an increasing need for people to have more meaningful, and productive leisure time in their lives.

She promotes a kind of self-awareness that I would say I have seen more of here in Jamaica than I did in the U.S. After her work with one client she shared the following:

Here’s an example of a work situation: one of my clients works in television, and her life is filled with stress during her filming season. In those periods, she works six days a week and has little energy for herself, her boyfriend and others in her life. She came to me in one of those stretches, in which she was so overwhelmed that she was waking up each morning just hoping to get through the day. It was affecting both her workday and the limited time she had outside of work.

“Eventually, (the client) said, she might make a big lifestyle change. But until she could do that we worked together on how she could add small bits of leisure into her days during those intense times. We were looking for small changes, the kinds of things she could do in 10 or 15 minutes. She created a list: she could call a friend who would make her laugh, take a walk to get coffee, sit for a few minutes in the park, even walk to and from work. Once she started to add some of these small bits of leisure to her life, she felt more free and happy at work, and she saw changes in her life outside of work, especially in how she interacted with others.”In 2Time terms, this is interesting. I believe that the goal of a time management system is promotion of both productivity and peace of mind, with an emphasis on the latter. In essence, the client is being encouraged to schedule leisure time into her calendar.To do that effectively, however, it would take at least a level of Orange Belt scheduling to bring it off. (See the posts on Scheduling for more on the topic.)

Here is another excerpt:

“Q. So how do you explain all those people who don’t feel free in their lives? A. Few of us really think about or plan for leisure. We think we should just go with the flow, but too often we end up feeling stressed, overwhelmed and unfulfilled. We need to plan for leisure — perhaps by doing one small thing every day, identifying long- and short-term leisure goals, putting enjoyable activities on the calendar — like we do other aspects of life. But before people start moving up leisure on the priority list, they need to appreciate and recognize the value and benefits of leisure, even when they have constraints (that may be internal or external). We all have obligations and other constraints that inhibit us from engaging in leisure that range from guilt to time or financial constraints. Yet the personal benefits and collective benefits short term and long term are worthwhile.”

Interesting, I thought. I agree that the importance of leisure needs to be appreciated first, but there is not way that someone with a low level of Scheduling skills will be able to create the kind of calendar that produces the increase in leisure she recommends.Of course, she is right about people wanting to “go with the flow.” There is nothing wrong with being flexible, but someone who sets aside their Green Belt calendar of activities to grab some fun, is in a very different place than someone who has only a White Belt calendar to set aside, or worse, no calendar at all.

Q. So what happens when an individual goes for an extended period of time without leisure?A. You tell me. Have you ever been burned out, depressed or overwhelmed, had stress manifest physically? Mind and body connect you know. And then think of the effect on not only you but how it affects others.

Another answer to the question of “what happens” is that the credit card is whipped out and the flight to Ocho Rios is booked on Travelocity.In either case it’s not too hard to see that effective leisure management has everything to do with good time management skills.