You probably wouldn’t do the things you say you’d do if only you had more time

The tiger lilies and the phlox in my front garden always bloom last. Their annual emergence is my sure sign summer is here.


The days on either side of solstice are my favorite time of year. The days last so long, with 15 hours of glorious daylight. It’s usually temperate in Indiana, with highs in the 70s or 80s. The trees are fully leaved, young bunnies hop all around the neighborhood, and the flowers just keep coming. It’s so easy to feel happy as spring fades into summer.

And thanks to unexpectedly working only part-time right now, I’m getting to enjoy these days like I haven’t since I was a boy. The time I have! The things I can do that I keep saying I want to!

Except that I’m not really doing them. I started a couple long-neglected yard chores but they remain unfinished. Except for a few long walks and one good bike ride, I really haven’t launched that fitness regimen I’ve long talked about. I haven’t finally cleaned and reorganized my garage. I haven’t given more time to the church or to the nonprofit I help run.

What I’m finding is that everything I normally do has expanded to fill most of the extra time — I’m taking things slower. With the rest of the time, I’m sleeping in a little and I’m stopping more often to breathe the air and look at my flowers.

There are two reasons, I think. First, I think I don’t really want to do those things. They’re just things I think I ought to be doing, and I blame lack of time for not doing them. I think we tend to naturally prioritize the things we want to do, within the time available to us. It turns out that sleeping and enjoying a little idle time were actually next on my must-do list.

But second, my life was too busy before. I frequently burn the candle at both ends. Working only part time has let me ease up. It feels like a vacation. I’d like to keep some of this when I eventually return to full-time work.

Does this resonate with you? What do you say you want to do if you had more time? What do you think you’d actually do with that time?


8 responses to “You probably wouldn’t do the things you say you’d do if only you had more time”

  1. jpcavanaugh Avatar

    This! So very much this. The same thing happens in miniature almost every weekend. I want to spend more time with family. I want to visit out of town friends and relatives. I want to invite friends for drinks or dinner. Write more, detail my cars, exercise, cook something, and tackle that list of eleventy-six things that need done at home. Then, Sunday evening comes, and few if any have been accomplished. Depressing.

    But I don’t have the free time that you have at the moment, so I don’t feel so bad. I need to keep reminding myself that the opportunity cost of everything I do is everything else I’m not doing. Choices can be so not fun.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      This period of part-time employment gives me an opportunity to examine some things. I’m only slightly less busy — I am, however, a lot less frenetic. It says I was too busy before, cramming too much in. Except for worrying about money, I feel so much better since dropping the frenetic pace.

      But coming into frank contact with the fact that my “wish I had time for” list is utter B.S. is causing me to rethink that list. What I very clearly really want is downtime. But I really would like to do more around the yard, and would like to exercise more. It’s creating quite a conflict.

  2. davidvanilla Avatar

    Inasmuch as I am retired one might think I have time for whatsoever I think I should do, or want to do. That, however, is not the case as my time seems to fill up quickly with things that are at the top of the immediate list. I mean, we, or I at least, tend to do the things we most want to do, or must do, and time is not unlimited. Blessings. Smell the flowers. And take pictures!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I think that if I were not working at all, and were not networking in my industry, I might find myself to be occasionally bored. Sweet boredom; how long it’s been since I knew ye. I think, however, I could fill that boredom quickly by volunteering more at the church. It’s a small church in a poor neighborhood and it has enormous needs.

      My mom retired finally and finds herself at some loose ends. She is used to the same kind of ridiculous pace I formerly kept. She finally offered to come to my house and do various jobs. She’s been scraping and painting my exterior windows, and recently trimmed the low branches off my trees. It’s enormously valuable work to me — these are things I’ve needed to do for years but haven’t found or made the time to do.

  3. nobbyknipst Avatar

    I’m working part-time since some years now, because there is more in our life than earning money. I get enought to live a good life and I’m still going on to slow down. I just do what I want to, and I am not thinking all the time what I COULD do…It’s not allways easy, but I keep on trying and I’m happy with that! I’ve got my cameras and my photography, walk around talking pictures, travel to the seaside once or twice a month for a week or two and my friends envy me. But no one will change his life and all sat down themselfes under pressure to earn more and more money and schedule their lives completely – instead saving time for themselfves.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’m not driven by money, but I do have some career goals I’d like to achieve. But I have six years of college expenses ahead as my two sons are of that age. When that’s done, I can and will scale my life way back.

  4. Selina Avatar

    Great post! I sometimes like entertaining this illusion of ‘if only I had more time/energy/money…I would do/accomplish….’
    It makes you dream and think of what might be possible. And if there’s anything in that illusion that sounds just too good to give up, you’ll eventually do it.
    But at least I need to fantasize about it first.

    Still I think it’s good to know that nobody would actually do a l l those things. Takes of the pressure and lets you breathe again. It’s okay not to be doing everything you would like to do.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’m turning over a new leaf: less pressure, please!!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: