Sunday, October 9, 2011

How do you handle your hobbies?

I feel like I am overscheduling myself again, and I want to take a poll.

How many hobbies do you have? How much time do you spend on them each week? How much money?

Here are the things I would LIKE to spend time on each week:
One dance class
Two yoga classes
Read two books
One or two book club meetings per month
Podcasts/radio shows like This American Life or PlanetMoney
Make one new recipe for dinner, plus homemade lunches and dinners every day
Volunteer at radio station
Play a few hours of Guild Wars
Blogging and all that goes along with it
Sewing (Halloween costumes, then back to quilting)
Board games night or outing with friends
Date night with Peanut

This is all in addition to, you know, working full-time and sleeping and grocery shopping and laundry and stuff like that. It's just way too much!

I can divide them up in financial categories like this:
Low cost/no cost: 
Podcasts/radio shows
Reading (I have hundreds of books, and the library has even more!)
Book clubs

Medium cost:
Yoga class
Game nights with friends (we bring some food thing to share, or we host)
New recipes
Date night

High(er) cost:
Dance classes (more than twice as much as yoga, per class)
Sewing (I'm still building a toolkit of sewing materials, so I don't really have any free projects lying around to work on. Fabric can be expensive!)

It used to be, I picked my hobbies in large part based on the financial consideration - I had more time than money. Now, it turns out that time is more precious to me (I'd rather work shorter hours for less pay than longer hours for more pay) and that means that my hobbies are impacted as well.

For example, dance class used to be a firm commitment in my life - I'd worked with the company long enough to make enough money to cover all associated costs of classes and whatnot. Only school interfered with my going to dance class. Now, though, it requires three hours of a Saturday afternoon plus when I get home I have to shower and wash my hair and sort of start my day over, and I have no expectation of earning anything with this new group until I've given them a LOT of my time (and money). I'm not sure that's worth it anymore.

Yoga is a lower cost commitment, both time and money-wise. The classes are about half the price of the dance classes, and it's also something I can do at home for free while getting some of the same benefits of a class (for me, this is not true of dance classes). A yoga class is also half the time of a dance class, and I don't always come home disgustingly sweaty. Sometimes I do, but class is early in the morning or later in the evening so it's not like I'm starting my day all over in the middle of it.

I haven't been reading as many books as I was able to read with a train commute, so I probably won't break my record of 127 books last year. But so what? I have more friends here than I did in New York, or at least a group of friends that I see more consistently, and that's been really nice. I usually find that I'm happier when I choose people over products, even when that product is a beautifully written story. 

At any rate, I think I need to limit myself to just a handful of these hobbies, and take some of the stress off myself about not being able to keep up with everything. I think I managed to get out of the radio station volunteer gig with some grace (note to self: do not fire off emails volunteering your time. Sit on them for a day or two first!). I think the ones I really want to focus on are

  1. Date night with Peanut
  2. Yoga (one class a week to start, with a few minutes of home practice every day)
  3. Games night/friends
  4. Blogging
  5. Sewing/listening to podcasts (gotta finish up our Halloween costumes!)
  6. Reading
How can I prioritize? Maybe pick days, like Monday is reading day, Tuesday is sewing day, Friday is date night, and if I miss it this week, no biggie because next week is coming around? Or set days for the big ones - yoga class, date night, game night - and then try to squeeze in a little blogging, a little reading, a little sewing every day around my work schedule?

How do you balance all the things you WANT to do with all the things you HAVE to do, in a finite amount of time?


  1. Wow! You have a lot of hobbies...or I'm more hobby-less than I realized.

    I read, write, take a water aerobics class and catch up on blogs. Luckily I take the train to work and can do 3 of 4 of my hobbies during my commute.

    I used to take a painting class and loved it. When I first started, I needed a creative outlet, but as time went on, I wrote more, got a non-creative-killing job and moved an hour away. I kept trying to go and it was draining. Once I sat down and thought about WHY I liked the hobby, I realized that things had changed. It was OK for me to let it go. I still miss it from time to time, but it was the right decision.

    Another thing I have to keep in mind is that not every week has to be the same. My hobbies can shift around: more reading one week, more writing the next.

    Good luck! Please keep us updated...and I love that you try to read two books a week!

  2. This is a never ending struggle of mine. Just last week I went rock climbing for the first time, and while I really really liked it, I knew I just didn't have time to start up a new hobby right now.

    I am inspired to copy this post idea for myself!

  3. I don't - the balance kind of shifts from week to week. I might have a good week where I knock out 3 or more books and get in a couple of good runs but don't pick up my guitar at all. And then I'll shift focus another week to make up for it.

    Most of my hobbies are free:
    managing our money (which takes up enough time that I count it)

    Then there's cooking and baking (cost varies) as like you, I do home cooked lunches and dinners (and I mean cooked, I'm not the kind to have a green salad for lunch).


    Spending time with T (which usually involves eating out once a week).

    At most I don't think I'd spend more than 8-10 hours a week at most on any one hobby.

  4. I tend to get super focused on one or two hobbies at a time, but it changes every so often. My ever-changing work schedule often dictates what I get to focus on, though.

  5. Wow you have a lot of hobbies! I don't think I have any hobbies. The BF always says that's weird, but I guess I don't have any time.

  6. I would set days for the big things (the ones that can't really be shifted to other days) and then squeeze the smaller hobbies in here and there. Trying to make Monday reading day might make you feel that you *have* to read that day, even if you aren't in the mood (it might start to feel like more of a chore than a hobby :P)

    If you get too busy and can't complete a hobby, it's not that big of a deal :)

  7. This is an excellent article. Thank you for publishing it! I think it is very useful to place each of your hobbies in categories to realize the financial cost of each but also the time constraints required for them.

    For me to prioritize is very important but setting a schedule does not necessarily work. Knowing which ones I must maintain for one reason or another is important, like a blog that should be updated several times a week. However something like Kayaking cannot necessarily take place each day or even each week. And what if I am not feeling like kayaking that day or in your case yoga? I give myself this fluidity so that I can go to the gym and work out if I want. Or I can go outside for a walk if I want some crisp outdoor air. Maybe I just don't have the time and feel less guilty missing something if I did not have it planned.

  8. It's really hard for me as well. Especially when it comes to including blogging and all that comes with it.

    What I do personally is try to go with the flow. Sometimes time frees up and I can knock off a lot of one thing. Other times things get sacrifice but I always try to catch back up. I don't have as many hobbies as you though but I do value time over money and am willing to sacrifice the money for more time.

    Guild wars as one of your hobbies is so cool. Haven't played any mmo's in a while. Those use to eat a lot of time but back then I had no control.

    The things that have to be done will always be done, like laundry. What you can do is try to group those with other hobbies and then everything else you have to balance with your free time.

  9. I think I'm in the choosing hobbies for being less time consuming stage, and also the cheaper the better.

    My list is very similar to yours (yoga, dance, knitting, sewing)

    But honestly, the hobby I was most passionate about so far was sheep herding with my dog. But it's expensive, requires driving out to a farm once a week, and is never going to result in any income. *Sigh*

    Guess I'll stick to blogging and seeing if I can sell some of my art on etsy...

  10. Wow! You are one busy lady! I would definitely say that picking days for certain hobbies would be a good idea. Are there hobbies that you can do once ever week? Or once every 2 weeks or even once a month?
    Splitting it up with a combination of cost + frequency might be a way to find out just how much you can do in a week/month.

    Don't forget the really really important hobby of down times, we don't want you to go crazy from over-commitment!

    Great blog!



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