Dignify has grown over many years and stages, but much of it was built in the margin time of my life when my husband was working full time and I was caring full-time for a 2 & 3-year old.
Isaac Newton worked on the early foundations of calculus & gravity during his isolation “annus mirabilis” (amazing year).
Do you need to start a side business or become a math whiz if you have any downtime? No!
But, binge-watching wears out after a while... and there is absolutely a middle zone of creative, constructive ways to spend discretionary time, however much of that you may have. For some typically active, healthy people, they may have a lot of time! For someone with multiple jobs, or young kids, it may be very little. Illness or disability may also limit what is possible.
These suggestions may come from my place of privilege of health, wellness, time and ability... I acknowledge that!
But, there is also a lot of time capital out there. The amount of entertainment content that is released proves it! (Netflix spent $14 billion on content last year — somebody is watching it.)
This list of ideas seeks to enter that margin of time and to use it well.
The barrier to entry to watch tv or consume media is low. And the payoff is commensurate! Skills that are more challenging to acquire, with different gradations of learning, also provide higher outputs of happiness and satisfaction.
Some ideas of these kinds of skills:
- Playing a musical instrument
- Baking, breadmaking
- Knitting, sewing
In a similar vein, restoration & repair are skills that are undervalued today, but certainly needed! You can acquire long-term, highly useful skills that build in difficulty and satisfaction, while also restoring life into dead or underloved things!
- Car repair
- Furniture restoration
- Gardening / Yard design
- DIY home projects
In our family, we created a list of “self-care” ideas — especially to use as a resource when we are angry, frustrated, or upset. One idea that may seem counterintuitive is to pour yourself out to something or someone else, even if you feel a bit empty. It could be as simple as taking care of a plant or a pet, or asking someone if you can get them a glass of water or give them a hand with something.
On a bigger scale, with more time, it could be volunteering or doing something practically helpful for a person or group in your community. The current climate poses challenges for this (my neighbour, whose time is full to the brim with volunteer boards & commitments, is at a loss!).
But, there are still many areas that need help right now, and always! Maybe you can offer administrative service, your organizational skills, or use your network to source fundraising help for charities that need help!
Do you remember making mixtapes, mixed CDs, or playlists? Somehow, when I was a teenager & young adult, I had all the time to spend on these pursuits. My theory now is that most adults listen primarily to the music of their late teens/early twenties because WHO HAS TIME NOW TO CURATE A PLAYLIST?!
Spotify & other streaming services with their algorithms have addressed this need, but what other time in your life do you have to simply luxuriate in the time to assemble your favourite music or discover new artists? Music is an art to appreciate, it needn’t only be a background addition.
Similarly, you could look through a book of photography or paintings. Take a tour of a museum. There is so much art and beauty all around us, but we tend to cram it in amidst our other multi-tasking!
There are some really annoying tasks that I put off simply because I don’t “have the time”, but really because: I don’t want to. Examples: changing service providers to a cheaper or more ethically-aligned option; asking the bank for lower interest rates on a credit card or loan; closing unnecessary accounts; unsubscribing to things. This may be a great opportunity to sit on the hold line to close that account or get a better rate.
What do you think? Share your own ideas or experiences of time spent that felt happy, creative, constructive!
This season for dignify has challenged us with waiting. Blankets have been leaving our hands at the fastest pace ever (yay!) and we are trying to simply keep up. Add extra inconveniences & delays (from COVID, from customs checks, and more), and we have been really exercising our muscles in patience, trust, and gratitude.
Culturally, we are in a stage of waiting, as well. Waiting for vaccine rollout. Waiting for "normal" opportunities to return, for "normal" life to resume in our cities, our nations.
Looking back at some photos from last Christmas, I came across this screenshot from my phone that really made me laugh:
My husband was dropping off our parcels recently, and a woman working in our shipper's office said, "I was looking at your site, and I think I might buy some of these blankets this year as gifts; I'm mostly shopping online." Another employee chimed in, "I'm going to do all of my shopping online, too."
That evening, he went with our kids to the mall to pick something up (masked, natch), and as he surveyed the hallways — with some permanently closed stores, some shuttered from lack of employees, etc. — Wayne's thought was, "I think I need to do all my shopping at the mall!"