It’s out of the Diary

Spontaneity is dead.

I’ve only been back from Kenya for a couple of weeks and already my diary is chock-a-block full for every evening and weekend for the next couple of months.

How did this happen? I’m sure this isn’t part of the simplicity process?

Certainly it is nice to feel so ‘wanted’ by others to have plans-a-plenty, but without room for spontaneity, life becomes rather fixed. Certainly time passes much more quickly when one is always rushing from one ‘do’ to another. Is that a good thing?

Yesterday someone who I don’t know very well but would love to know better texted me and asked me for a drink. We gave up trying to find a suitable spot when we got two months away without an opening. They probably think I’m avoiding them – the opposite of the sentiment I was hoping to portray.

One of the reasons that I find London difficult is the sensation that this phenomenon is true for everyone. Each event or meeting is filled with people who are only there for a pre-planned period. People are continually aware of where they are going to be and when, meaning there is little fluidity. The distance needed to get around town also means that plans have to be made early.

It’s a sad state of affairs to live in a pre-ordained world of peripateticism and, I am convinced, it leads to the discontentment that drives much of our consumerist, self-centred behaviour.

I’d like to reclaim my valuable time and leave room for spontaneity and even, God forbid, boredom. Not that I actually want to be bored but much of this planning is about avoiding boredom, rather than enabling fulfilment.

A few simple diary rules for the Simpletom:

1)    Leave one or better still two nights a week plan-less, but book them into your diary as ‘free’ so you aren’t tempted to fill them.

2)    Book out times in the day in your diary to complete important tasks, or go for a walk

3)    Say ‘maybe’ to all events if you can without upsetting people, leaving you the opportunity to cancel if necessary.

4)    Over-estimate how much time things will take rather than under-estimate – leaving you with space rather than forcing you to rush around.

5)    Don’t put event after event back to back – try leaving some spaces, enabling a walk in the park between meetings.

6)    Learn to say ‘no’ to time-sucking friends or events that don’t contribute positively. You know who / what they are!

7)    Be brave enough to move people or events if necessary.

Now all that is left is to use these, rather than suffer the abuse of your own poor diarising.

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3 thoughts on “It’s out of the Diary

  1. I agree Tom, good post, over-estimating rather than under-estimating how long things will take is key to not rushing around like a headless chicken. Who’s the girl you’d like to know better?? x x x

  2. I like this – totally sums up my life of late; every spare second accounted for and everything planned, which leaves me feeling suffocated and in a panic to organise my social life as efficiently as possible. Having lots of disparate friends and groups doesn’t help. I do, however, most of the time try and plan in ‘nothing’ nights every now and again when I can go and do whatever I want; by this time there are usually piles of washing and lots of house admin to do and food shopping etc, but that’s no bad thing – doing them is a way of feeling more nested and in control of things sometimes. Unless your preplanned days have left you with little energy, in which case I tend to just want to get into bed (rarely ever happens though as I have very sociable housemates).

    Lately, all I want to do is sit and read a good book in a calm setting, on my own, with lots of natural light. But if I were to do that on a weekend when I could/should be doing something else (there are always people to feel guilty about not seeing) then I’d be so distracted I probably wouldn’t enjoy it much. Or, every half an hour I’d be checking my phone for emails, facebook. Sometimes I switch it off but rarely.

    I do find it hard though, your reference to ‘time suckers’. I’ve had this before, when I’ve been spending time with someone and not truly valued it. It’s made me want to run away. But then, I don’t think that’s very nice; I feel it’s selfish and intolerant to appraise people in this way – from a point of view of personal efficiency etc – just because they’re not giving me what I want or need at this particular time, and push them away. If they’re getting something nice out of us seeing eachother, then that’s good, isn’t it?

  3. I completely agree Jac and thanks for your kind post. There are always those people who take up your time in the wrong way at the wrong time who need you. That’s friendship. I meant the kind of people who always take up your time and rarely give you any back.

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