Mario Villalobos

Three Hours

On Monday, I finished reading Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus & Sharpen Your Creative Mind by 99U, and yesterday I started to read Maximize Your Potential: Grow Your Expertise, Take Bold Risks & Build an Incredible Career by 99U. Both books are in the productivity genre of literature that I actually enjoy reading, and every time I read books like these, I get pumped up. I want to do more. I want to be more efficient, more productive, and more creative.

There was something I read in there today about shaking up the status quo and pushing yourself past your comfort zone because that’s the only way you’ll ever improve. I needed to read that because that’s how I’ve felt for a few months now. I try to push myself, but I’m so complacent in my routine that I just don’t want to. A big part of my routine, unfortunately, is watching TV. If I watched zero minutes of television a day, I would reclaim hours of my day to push myself in ways I know I’ll be proud of. But it’s hard. I love TV. I love coming home from work, grabbing a few snacks, lying in bed with my laptop, and hitting play on some television show. It’s relaxing and fun. But every time I do, I later lament those lost hours. I could’ve spent more time on my novel if only I didn’t spend that hour watching the Good Wife.

There was a chapter in there devoted to deliberate practice. This was made famous by Malcolm Gladwell, who wrote about the 10,000 hour rule to master anything. I’ve always been of two minds with this. On the one hand, I loved it because it gave me a tangible goal to strive for. 10,000 hours is a nice number that we can all somewhat see. It’s a big number, but it seems doable. On the other hand, I feel like it discredits anyone who doesn’t or hasn’t spent that amount of time with their craft. Like, take an up and coming rock band. They’re good, but the musicians are all in their early twenties. Do we think they spent 10,000 hours deliberately practicing their music? I doubt it, but it doesn’t discount the fact that I like their music, and that I think they’re good. I guess it’s about mastery and not just being “good.” Whatever.

I don’t know where I’m going with this. These sessions have become a chore and not really the necessary time to really evaluate my life and my actions in an honest and open way. Chore might be the wrong word. It is the wrong word. It’s a task I want to check off my todo list. That’s what this has become, and I feel guilty about that. I feel the same way about my novel. I loved the first three chapters of my book, but I’ve slowly grown to resent the last six. It’s difficult to give everything I do 100%, and it’s especially disconcerting when I want to give everything I do 100% and I don’t. Hence the reason why I’m reading these books. I want to get better, but a big part of that process is finding the time.

I will always have 24 hours a day to live my life. I’ve been neglecting my sleep for months. I get, at best 7 hours of sleep a night. I want to get 8.5. I spent 8 hours at work, but I spent about 30 minutes driving to and from work, with an extra half hour thrown in for randomness. That’s a good 9 hours devoted to just work. Already I’m at 17.5 hours of my days accounted for, leaving me with 6.5. I spent an hour working out and showering, maybe 30-60 minutes cooking and eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner, about an hour spent writing my journal and novel. That leaves me with about 3.5 hours left. A good 30 minutes of that is spent doing some other stuff, like meditating, and other routines. If I didn’t watch TV, I could use that time to improve, but instead, I watch TV. That’s where that extra time goes to. 3 hours a day, at least, spent passively watching people act on a laptop screen. Is that wise? I don’t know. I can’t squeeze every hour of my days with doing something productive. I’ll just burn out.

Three hours to improve my life. Wow.