Did you know that the second Friday in January is termed as “Quitter’s Day”?
Although I wasn’t surprised to learn that most new year resolutions are abandoned about two weeks into the new year and hence the term.
There is something energising about the advent of another year when we believe that as we open a brand new calendar, we also usher in a brand new version of ourselves. Yet, we end up repeating the same patterns without consciously choosing to do so.
I have moved away from committing to multiple resolutions each year but I am still addicted to adding things to my to-do or to-learn list. In a world where side hustle is a buzzword, productivity is a badge of honor and monetization a common goal, it seems as if the only acceptable way to deploy your time is to produce something that you can showcase.
It doesn’t make sense to spend any time doing random stuff.
But that’s exactly what I am doing in 2023.
When I received an entirely unexpected Christmas gift from a thoughtful colleague, I decided to try my hand at something I have never done before – crochet!
Well, why not?
In 2022, one book that had a major impact on my thinking was Four Thousand Weeks – Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman. From the finite span of our brief lives, to our insane pursuit of productivity while simultaneously battling FOMO, Burkeman covers a lot of ground about time and our perception of it.
“Rendering yourself more efficient — either by implementing various productivity techniques or by driving yourself harder—won’t generally result in the feeling of having ‘enough time,’ because, all else being equal, the demands will increase to offset any benefits. Far from getting things done, you’ll be creating new things to do.”
Among the many unique ideas that are scattered across the book, one idea struck me as being particularly suited to wean me from my tendency to always choose in favor of efficiency.
I try to maximize every minute of my waking hours – I am either doing something or thinking of something to do. From reading multiple books concurrently, to signing up for minor challenges that take a week and major courses that need a year to complete, I lean towards overcommitment and then feel an acute shortage of time.
Not only do I want to do things, but I want to do them well, regardless of whether I share the output with others or store them away from sight. Naturally I prefer more intellectual pursuits because that is where my aptitude lies. Between choosing to learn a new sport versus a new language, I will choose the latter, simply because I believe it would be a better use of my time.
And why is that so important? Because as a mere mortal, I have a constant fear that I will run out of time.
Let it go
When I saw the crochet kit, it seemed like the perfect way to try out one of Burkeman’s interesting ideas. He suggests that we learn something that is just for ourselves. By choosing to apply yourself to something that you know you will never excel at or be tempted to convert to a product that you can make money from, you consciously choose to not offer up every available minute to the gods of productivity (or capitalism).
For me, crochet fit the bill. Creating something with my hands is way out of my comfort zone. I haven’t dabbled in arts and crafts for several decades now and I am sure that whatever I make with my new crochet kit will not be of a standard that I can either show off or gift to someone.
Then why bother?
Precisely for that reason.
I plan to spend 15 minutes each day getting a hang of crochet technique (at least for the next 3 weeks).
This simple exercise will allow me to become comfortable with being less efficient and practice letting myself off the hook (pun intended) if I am not producing something worthy enough to share. And that sounds perfect.
No expectations. No deadlines. No pressure.
Every minute of every day is a gift and I get to decide what I want to do with it. Instead of producing more content, chasing fickle trends and tracking meaningless metrics, I am choosing to wrestle with the needles and balls of yarn.
For the past few years I have noticed that in the process of constantly counting, measuring and monetizing, I have forgotten the joy that arises in just doing something.
With this easy experiment, I hope to reclaim that pleasure of trying something new without any pressure. It is easy to talk of ‘journey being more important than the destination’ but actually following through on it is not as simple. Trying my hand at crochet is my humble attempt to see if I can walk the talk.
Is there something that you have been meaning to fit into your life but are procrastinating because you are too swamped?
Start small. Make a pact with yourself. Spare a few minutes each day (or week) for an activity just for the pure pleasure of it and see where it leads. The world doesn’t need to know.
Do it for the simple joy of doing.