NYR 19-12: “Do Better Next Year.” Playing More, Being More Productive, and Being A Better Spouse.

In July, I tried to Play More.

I wanted to reconnect with the idea “playing” – doing something just for fun and taking a break from all things self-improvement.

Video games seemed like a safe bet; after all, I’d spent countless hours playing in my younger days, and I think most people would agree that playing Chrono Trigger on my Nintendo DS in my 30’s probably isn’t going to do much to improve me or the world. It would be pure, selfish fun, and I wanted to explore the benefits of that.

Turns out, video games weren’t a safe bet after all.

Nostalgia is a tricky, powerful, sad sort of feeling. Try as I might, I just couldn’t enjoy gaming the same way I could when I was younger. There were a few times when I got sucked in, but once I put the controller down I found myself not really wanting to pick it back up. And I haven’t picked it up since I finished writing the post series in July.

I don’t think the story of video games is over for me – after all, I’ve got two little girls at home, and I’ve already started researching the best time to introduce them to the old Nintendo library (right now I’m thinking 4th birthday). But if I’m going to do better next year, I need to stop and think about what “playing” actually means to me at this stage in my life.

In August, I tried to Be More Productive.

I developed a process of planning, prioritizing, and executing my daily tasks, and recorded the number of days I went through the process and also the time of day when I did my planning. At this point, it looks like I’m going to close the year having planned about 50% of my days in 2019, with an average start time of around 9:05 a.m..

For most of the year, I thought of planning as a “work thing.” I didn’t want to even look at my daily tasks until I was in the office, surrounded by my monitors and my coffee and my keyboard and my team members, prepared for the onslaught that was to come. To try and plan earlier in the day would just ruin my morning, burdening my mind with tasks that I wouldn’t be able to address until later in the day.

To be clear, I do think it would be a mistake for me to crack open my inbox first thing upon waking. Having a routine where I start off with some exercise or meditation sets me on a good trajectory for the day. But once that’s done, I say bring on the planning process as early as possible. Some advocate planning your day the night before – I haven’t tested that, my main concern being that the planning process would get my mind racing and make it harder to go to sleep. If I’m going to do better next year, I want to plan more days and earlier in the day on average.

In September, I tried to Be A Better Spouse.

We have this fruit bowl in our kitchen. Sometimes it’s on our island, lately it’s been hanging out on the counter next to our fridge. I know it’s a fruit bowl, and my wife know’s it’s a fruit bowl. There’s a hook at the top where you can hang bananas. There’s no debate – this bowl exists to hold fruit.

But somehow… non-fruit items end up in the fruit bowl.

I don’t mind if it’s a sweet potato or some other food that sort-of makes sense. But sometimes it’s pens and paper, christmas cards, unpaid medical bills, children’s art projects, hats. Hats! In the fruit bowl!

Now I know for a fact that I never put anything other than fruit in the fruit bowl. And it’s too high for my girls to reach so that leaves…

My wife. My wife puts hats in the fruit bowl and there have been times when I’ve gotten pretty worked up about it.

If I’m lucky enough to catch myself getting upset over stupid stuff like this, I usually try to check and make sure there isn’t any “projection” going on here. I’ve never lived alone; since graduating from highschool, I’ve lived with about a half-dozen different people. And if I were to do a quick poll… do I honestly think that any one of my old roommates would describe me as “the clean one?” Are there other areas of the house where I’m doing my own “hats in the fruit bowl” thing?

Of course there are. And I don’t know why I’m putting so much emphasis on cleaning in the first place. I think its just because its a thing that comes up with shared spaces, and we both struggle with it because we’re busy and we’re tired and our kids are young and adorable but not particularly helpful at this age and we both just want to sleep. We just want to sleep and the world won’t let us.

My strategy to do better next year: go on more dates.

One thought on “NYR 19-12: “Do Better Next Year.” Playing More, Being More Productive, and Being A Better Spouse.

  1. As always, I enjoy your self deprecating humor but also honest insights. You have tackled big issues and, for the most part, wrestled them to the ground!

    Liked by 1 person

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