Don’t Eliminate Fun When You Get Busy

(Don’t miss my ESI Millionaire Interview 299)

The fun things we do in life, such as hobbies and spending time with family and friends, are the things that help keep us mentally fit and happy. Yet when we get busy, these are the first things we eliminate from our schedule. 

It’s no wonder we burn out when we give our work too much band width in our schedule and push everything else out. Even after retirement we can fall into this same scenario. I can get busy with a project, like our home refresh, and realize I pushed all the fun things out of my life to “get the project done.”

My Tuesday night group bicycle rides with the local bike shop, the Monday morning men’s breakfast at church, playing my piano, exercise, and dinners with friends and family are all things I enjoy yet tend to sacrifice when I get busy. These are not the things I should be sacrificing in my life to make time to paint the bathroom. 

This week I am performing in the musical Godspell. It has been over a decade since I was in a play or musical, which is something I enjoy. Even though I am now retired, and supposedly have more free time to do such activities, I have not taken advantage of my new free time. I have been spending so much time traveling that there hasn’t been time available to join the cast of a performance, which requires several weeks of evening rehearsals. It has been fun to be a part of a group putting together something for fun and enjoyment for ourselves and others. 

My son recently performed in Shrek the Musical. We saw the show three times, each time taking different relatives with us. It was fun to get out and see a live performance again.

Sometimes we get so caught up in our work that we forget what we are working for. 

When we put in an 80 hour work week, thinking we are doing it for our family, but we never see our family, then something is off.

As a recovering workaholic, I need constant reminders to stop and smell the roses. I recorded an original music album when I was in medical school and considering dropping out to pursue a career in music. The title song was “All Work and No Play” (Makes Jack a Very Dull Boy). I have always battled this problem of letting work displace the fun in my life and I doubt the struggle will ever end.

But I do win little battles now and then. We watch our grandson two days a week. I sang in a musical this week. I bought a new bicycle and started riding again. I went to the men’s breakfast this week. We will be celebrating Easter with the family at our house. 

It is tough to work fun into our lives. I get it. Physicians are very busy people and that doesn’t stop when we retire from medicine, it is in our blood. But when we do something just for fun, there are great rewards. I felt a natural high at the end of every Godspell performance. I feel great after each bicycle ride. And taking my grandson to the park has rewards of its own.

If I ask physicians what is more important—family or work, almost everyone will say family. So I would like to challenge you to look at your calendar for the last two months and see how many family activities are written in. If family is important, do you schedule time in your calendar to be with them? If it was illegal to do fun things with your family, is there enough evidence in your calendar to convict you of breaking this law?

Start looking through your calendar and filling some of the white spaces with family activities and things you find enjoyable. Live a life worth living. If you work to earn enough money to do fun things and have things you enjoy, don’t let your work keep you from all the fun things you are working for. 

There are 168 hours in a week. If we spend 60 hours working, and 50 hours sleeping, then we have 58 hours a week to enjoy life. 

What are you doing with your weekly 58 hours of free time?

When we think about our free time in this way, we do have a lot of free time every week. We can use it for fun, we can use it for busy work, or we can let it slip through our fingers with nothing to show for it. If we are not purposeful about what we do with our free time, it will be lost.

When I was a practicing general surgeon, I wanted to be in a local play. I could easily have told myself there is no way to do that because I am on call during the week and won’t be available to attend all the weeknight rehearsals. My job won’t allow me to do it. (How many times have you told yourself this lie?) It is so easy to come up with excuses as to why we can’t do something.

Instead I asked myself “How can I make this happen?” Because I asked the question, I came up with a solution. I made a deal with one of my partners. He would take all of my call for two months so I could be at every rehearsal and every performance. After the show closed, I took all of his call for two months. At the end of the four months, we both took the same amount of call, but it was redistributed to allow me a chance to be in the play. 

I got a chance to do what I wanted and in return he also got a chance to have two months with no call.  We both came out well. This is a concept you might use with those in your call group. It is pretty easy, if you have a few people in your call group, for one of them to be off call each month. It makes for a very nice month. Most groups who share call would love this option, so why don’t you propose it?

What things have you given up because you “have to” work? Is there something you wish you could do but haven’t done in a long time? Is there a way to get it back into your schedule? If the answer is no, then I challenge you with an exercise I use in my High Performance Coaching Program.

Make a list of ten ways you could make a change that would allow you to do something you want to do that your current schedule doesn’t allow.  Don’t stop with the first one or two options you come up with. Continue until you have ten options on the list. Think outside of the box for some interesting ways to accomplish your goal. It is usually option 6 or 7 that really hits pay dirt. Those are the more creative things you think of after the usual answers are written down. You will be surprised at the things you can do when you put your mind to it.

Getting your family, friends, and hobbies back onto your calendar will be a life changing exercise. You will be amazed at how much happier you will be once you are regularly doing the things you love. Don’t wait any longer. It’s time to get your life back and really start living the life of your dreams. Remember, painting the bathroom can wait, going on a bicycle ride with your kids is often a better choice. Don’t leave doing fun things for someday when you retire. Someday may never come. Make today your someday. 

Share this article:

1 thought on “Don’t Eliminate Fun When You Get Busy”

  1. I can definitely relate to this. For me it’s about a whole life balance between work, family, friends and personal health. If you want to bring the best you to your family, take care of yourself first. If you want to work to support your family financially, can you also NOT work so that you are able to support your family emotionally?

    I like the exercise you propose about reviewing your calendar to see what you actually did with the 58 hours of free time in our week. We talk about reviewing our past month’s finances but what about our past month’s activities? That gives a true picture of how we are spending our time and not just our money.

    Thanks for the thought provoking post!


Leave a Comment