Best time, not free time?

Life has been a bit hectic lately. It’s something that sounds incredibly cliche because so many of us seem to say it all the time. But it’s so. Damn. True. Every day work seems to get busier or throw another curveball for one of us, and the weekends become one long to-do list of all the shit you don’t have time for in the week. Something has got to give, and I read something today that might have the answer.

Similar to my post about quality over quantity when it comes to free time – this idea is one I came across in a book called Quiet by Susan Cain. She calls it ‘sweet spots’, though I think ‘comfort zone’ or ‘happy place’ better sums it up.

Quiet by Susan Cain

She describes how any given person might feel perfectly content doing a particular activity, say, relaxing in their garden, therefore hitting their ultimate comfort zone when it comes to the amount of stimulation they’re giving their minds. The book they’re reading might be just interesting enough to be exciting for the mind, but the overall situation puts them in a mental place of perfect ease. A while later, reading has become a little boring, and so they’ve slipped out of their comfort zone, so seek out another. They might find this by going for a coffee with a friend. See this as heading back up the notches towards perfect contentedness. That friend then suggests going to meet a larger group, which you don’t feel like, so you dip back down again, until you eventually return home and go back to reading in the garden, hitting the right levels of mental stimulation again.

The passage is essentially about seeing yourself as continuously on a mission to find your comfort zone through small adjustments. I’m not talking about getting up and leaving work in favour of going to the beach, but making the changes necessary to allow any given situation come as close as possible to making you feel content. This might include things like making a fresh cup of tea, stepping outside for some deep breaths of fresh air, or taking a few minutes to chat to someone and revive your brain.

It’s a simple idea, but you could easily condition yourself into picturing a set of scales, and finding the right balance of stimulation and happiness in every task.



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