Personal time or “The life we’re doing all this for” has become a catchall term for whatever we’re doing that isn’t work or sleeping. It includes all the household chores and maintenance, errands (household chores that need to be done outside the home), exercise for the purpose of maintaining health and body weight, connecting with friends to maintain relationship, connecting with family to maintain relationship, fulfilling obligations, providing for the needs of those who depend on us (children/elder care/codependents), self-care, working on projects that will advance our life in some way (education/new business/making art), and doing things which we enjoy simply for the pleasure of doing them.  So life, right?

However, notice how most of those items are actually work or turn into work because they have become line items in a laundry list of things to get done before time/energy runs out.  Personal time really segments out into three categories: what needs to get done to keep things running, what needs to be done in order to triage all the doing that has gone on with work and what’s needful, and actual life. Most people spend all of their time on the first 2 and so never get to the 3rd and wonder where the time goes, why they never seem to enjoy anything, and what’s wrong with them that they aren’t living like everyone else.  Why can’t I be social and active, go out on the weekends and do all the things that I want? Why don’t I have any energy at all? Why have I become a recluse and a curmudgeon?

The problem in part stems from a fundamental confusion over Triage vs. lived life when it comes to personal time.  When we are out of balance, expending too much energy doing for everyone else whether that’s a demanding job, a too busy schedule, or a family or all of the above, any downtime we get will immediately click us into the next priority.  We’ll move to the chose that have been left undone and then move into triage.  The brain shuts down, the body asks for time off, we try to shut off the barrage of input by retreating from people, and we crave sleep/quiet/peace/the doing of nothing.  This isn’t the same as lived life.  This isn’t even self-care, it’s injury repair.  We have over done, caused damage, gone beyond the limit for health and happiness and it shows.  Think of how you feel when you come down sick. Yes, you can work through it, but you’re miserable doing it and so is everyone around you.  You don’t enjoy anything because all of your energy is needed to fight off the invaders and get well.  Most people live like that as a perpetual cycle of injury and recovery and then wonder why all they want to do is watch TV.

If your personal time is spent in triage, taking as much time out as possible and never seeming to get caught up, then it’s probably time to take a time out from your time outs and reconsider the balance of your life.  The reason for all the doing should be to make your life and therefore everyone else’s a better place to be.  You know, if Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy?  Don’t try to will yourself to health. Your perspective on things isn’t the problem.  How much you’re putting out to everyone else is.  Start pulling back on how much you’re doing and you’ll find that you’re much more likely to be the person you want to be in life.