– Ben Martens

What If I Don’t?

Last September, I didn’t step foot in the office. I was on paternity leave the whole month. It was a wonderful time to spend at home with my family and connect with Tyla and Elijah. When I got back to work, I took stock of the changes. There was a long list of work that I had been doing on a regular basis that hadn’t happened for a month… and for many of those things, nobody cared! It was a big revelation for me. As I spend time in the same job, my list of tasks is always finding new additions. I rarely cull the list so it just grows. But does it all really need to be done? Obviously not if nobody cared that it hadn’t happened in a long tie. Some things, of course, need to happen whether people care or not but that’s an exception to the rule.

As my free time at home gets squeezed more and more (parenting takes a lot of time!), I’ve been trying hard to apply this at home too. I regularly ask myself “What if I don’t do X?” What if I don’t mow the lawn or clean the furnace filter? Well that’s clearly not good. But what if I don’t watch that television series or watch that movie or spend a day doing a hobby? It takes some practice to answer that question honestly because there are many activities that I think make me who I am. But once I forced myself to find a good answer, I’ve been able to remove a ton of old habits from my life. And you know what? I don’t miss them! In fact, it feels liberating to have all this time handed back to me.

Having a child was a forcing function to make this happen since it put such a huge constraint on my available free time, but it feels like a very healthy experience. Instead of trying to schedule in a bunch of habits, I now schedule in time to just “veg” and do some random activity that used to be a time-sucking habit. It’s a good balance for me right now and lets me focus on things that I really do consider important and high priority.