Good Use of Time?

This is a guest post by Dave, who is also looking to retire no later than 45, but unlike Tim has no kids and doesn’t want any. Dave is from Ontario and is working towards his CGA certification.

I have been finished with accounting courses and school for 9 months now.  At the end of my courses, it felt like I was retiring.  I gained about 20 to 30 hours per week where I was previously studying, writing reports or procrastinating from doing these things I was supposed to do.  My Sunday afternoons were suddenly wide open for the first time in about 6 years (this is when I did most of my homework and assignments) and I no longer had to rush home after work to meet up for web discussions or to respond to a group e-mail.

So, what have I done with my free time?  Initially, I was kind of lost – I had almost too much time and couldn’t really focus on one thing, and it seems like I wasn’t really getting anything done that I could look back at the end of the week and say “I achieved this, this and this”.  I am a goal-oriented person – doing the CGA program, I was always working towards an end goal of getting some letters after my name.  With no goals, I just kind of spin out.  Enter my “post-school” checklist.

I keep a small spiral notebook with me most of the time.  In the last year of courses, while I was dreading an exam worth 100% of my mark and trying to focus on getting my work done I made a list of what I wanted to do when I was done.  On my list were the following:

  1. Make All-Grain Beer
  2. Learn enough woodworking to make a small deck in my tiny backyard and a king-sized bed frame to replace our basic metal frame.
  3. Learn enough Spanish to know if someone is talking about me in a foreign language
  4. Become good enough at drawing so that people can tell what I’m trying to make a picture of
  5. Learn to play a piano
  6. Learn to whistle really loud

So far, I have done the following:

Started with the woodworking/carpentry (not sure specifically what you’d call it) – I built a couple of pretty nice closet organizers which are still standing 6 months later.

I started learning how to draw, but then I got sidetracked in December when I decided my handwriting was terrible and have taught myself cursive writing that my wife says is significantly more legible.  I will get back to drawing soon though.

The rest, unfortunately I have not achieved, but will begin in the near future. I have a problem in the evenings with some sort of time management and making good use of my time.  In order to fit in these hobbies or interests I need to probably watch less Netflix, play less video games (I am frustratingly stuck playing Super Meat Boy right now) and prioritize my time to make sure I am getting done what I want to get done.

I think it’s better that I have this realization now, rather than when I don’t have my job to fill in most of my awake hours.  I will hopefully figure out a better time management system that will allow me to get the stuff done that I want to get done over the next 6 months to a year and add on more stuff later.

I would rather be working towards something and have some sort of result I can show for a one-month period other than just beating a video game.  This is kind of my thing though – I don’t really have anything to prove anymore, I just feel better if I know I have learned a new skill or done something to improve myself.

Is this just me, or do you have “goals” in your free time?

6 thoughts on “Good Use of Time?”

  1. I felt the same way when I left nursing school (60 – 70 hrs of work a week, yes I actually kept track) for a full time job (only 40 hrs a week? Nothing on weekends or evenings? How strange!) At first I just enjoyed the time doing nothing, but finally decided that I needed to find fulfilling as well as enjoyable pursuits. So I:
    – Learned Arabic (reading, writing and speaking)
    – Learned how to embroider/quilt
    – Started blogging
    – Did volunteer work
    Turns out to be much more enjoyable the TV every night (though I’ve not abandoned that completely.

  2. #1 Learning to build things out of wood like you have mentioned. As well as other projects around the house that have been drawn out too long.

    #2 Learning to run a simple blog to detail #1.

  3. Congrats on finishing your CGA! You sound a lot like Tim, with the funk he was in. I’m sure you’ll find your way. Perhaps this is just the mental quiet you need as you clarify future goals.
    Oh, and your wife might have some things you could do if you’re bored 🙂

  4. @ Erin – I am already in pretty good shape – my main goal there is to not get hurt and maintain that level of fitness.

    @ Elizabeth – Was there any reason in particular you wanted to learn Arabic? That’s an interesting language to learn.

    Needlework is cool to learn as well – most of the people I know that do it find it very relaxing.

    @ Fil – Nice first blog post…..I’ll keep an eye on it for ideas : )

    @ M – Kind of a funk I guess….I mean it can’t be too much of a funk, I really enjoyed playing dozens of hours of video games and stuff – I just hate feeling I’m “wasting time” all the time. It’s one thing to fit a half an hour or an hour of Netflix or zombie killing in at the end of a day to blow off some steam, it’s a whole other thing if that’s all I did all evening, every evening.

    My wife has plenty of “suggestions” with what I do with my time……I have been fairly unproductive around the house over the last few years : )

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