Monthly Archives: May, 2016

Discretionary Time

I was thinking a bit this morning about how we slept in til 9 am.  That almost never happens.  Usually, even on a weekend, I will get up earlier than that because “I’ve got things I need to do!”  But today was one of those rare days when I did not feel like I had anything that I absolutely NEEDED to do…until noon…when we were going to show a house for sale.

I looked at the clock when it was 6 am, my usual time to get up, and i knew it was Sunday so I could sleep in later.  I looked up again around seven, it was light, and I thought maybe about getting up…but I thought, what the heck…and I rolled back over.  It wasn’t too much longer when it was around 8 am.  I was almost ready to get up, but as long as she was still sleeping and the dogs weren’t being unruly, and I had no real reason to get up…I closed my eyes again.  Next thing I knew it was 9 am.

That’s enough I thought.  I’ve slept in more than enough to really feel like I had slept in, and i figured that I had probably reached my maximum benefit of sleeping anyway.  I figured that from there, I would begin thinking that I ought to get up and do some of the things that I don’t always have the time to do, because i don’t always have that much discretionary time.

And there it was.  That phrase.  I’m not sure that I ever recall having used it before, but surely I must have.  Or someone else must have.  Or I must have at least heard it before.  But it didn’t sound familiar.  And it got me to thinking about discretionary time.

I was very familiar with the term discretionary money, or discretionary spending.  Basically, that’s the money you have left over after you’ve paid all your bills for everything else that you need to pay for, usually not much for most of us.  And really a deceptive phrase when it comes right down to it.  maybe the deceptive part is actually thinking that we have any discretionary money to spend.  In reality, we have set ourselves up on monthly payments for so many things that when it comes down to it, most of us are very much in debt and really don’t have any discretionary money.  We just pretend we do…by making payments on what we owe for.

But none of this is the point.  All I really wanted to point out with the money thing is that discretionary money is what you have left over after you’ve paid for everything you need to pay for, however we estimate that.

I just wanted to make the comparison that if discretionary money is what you have leftover after you’ve paid for what you need to pay for, then discretionary time, must be what you have left over after you done everything else you need to do…say for any given day.

Sometimes, most of the time, at least at this point in my life, I don’t feel like I have much in the way of discretionary time each day.  I feel like there are always things that I need to be doing.  And I think that’s what I and everyone else who says they don’t have enough time, mean when they say it.  That there are always so many things that we feel we NEED to do, that we don’t feel like we have enough time…

The thing is of course, that we all have the same amount of time.  Twenty four hours per day.  The problem is, that we don’t really get to choose how we use our time, most of the time.  The definition of discretionary is “subject or left to one’s own choosing, for any use or purpose one chooses, not earmarked for a particular purpose, its up to you to decide.”

For those of us still working, right there we have a big time user.  Our job.  One way or another we have to have money to live on.  So we have to spend some of our time on a job.  We could go in to all the messy details of standard of living, what do we really NEED, and so on, but for purposes of this, lets just agree that we need a job.  So eight hours or so of our 24 is tied up in a job.  Add in you commute time, errands, whatever else we need to do each day, and the only other really big time eater…is sleep.  Again, sleep varies for all of us but we set the standard of 8 hours of sleep(or at least trying to sleep.  Now, we’re down to 8 hours minus all those other little things we have to do like the commute, the errands, etc.

Some of us may have kids, and we all know how time consuming they are, so when we’re raising kids, its hard to even think of discretionary time, because to do the child raising well, leaves very little.  But, in actuality, I am talking about me, and my discretionary time.

When I was young before I was encumbered with a steady job and a normal adult life, I used to spend very much of my time…thinking.  That was how I liked to spend my discretionary time.  I’d still really like to be able to do that, but now I feel guilty about it.  It seems…unproductive…not so much to me, as to everybody else who lives in the normal adult world.  We have been…trained…hell, even brainwashed, into believing that…just thinking…and doing nothing else…makes you some kind of neer-do-well, AND, a time waster!

I am guilty of that myself.  And I feel guilty when what I would really like to do is to lay back and let my mind…just wander around in my head and think about what it will.  I still do it when I get the chance, but now, it almost feels like a necessity.  Like something that MUST be done in order to keep me functioning the rest of my time in this normal adult world.   Which unfortunately, takes it away from a discretionary use of my time, and makes it a must do.

Its twisted I know, but now it is just another thing that I must do to maintain my sanity.  Another part of my time that is have to and NOT discretionary.  Some people don’t understand, and would have me use my time for more productive things.

I feel like I’m slipping out of my groove.  It was hard enough to get here.  But lets try to keep going.  Discretionary time, is the time you have when YOU can pretty much decide  what YOU want to do with your time.  You don’t have to go to the job.  You’ve gotten a good nights sleep so you don’t need to take a nap.  You don’t have to be anywhere.  You have no family obligations to meet.  There  are no honey-do jobs that absolutely must be done to keep the peace.  And finally, there is nothing that you yourself feel needs to be done such that your life will not go well without it.

I really don’t have much of that kind of time. In the eight hours that I have not sewn up for the job and sleep, there are those last two items that keep me from feeling I have much discretionary time.  Like most good wives everywhere, this wife also has a long list of honey-do jobs that she would have me do.  But beyond that, are the things that I…think I should be doing to keep our life going well.

But even at that, I can’t do it all.  Its not that I’m asking for more time, because I know that all of us only get that same amount…24 hours a day.  What I need…what I would like…is more discretionary time.

I am so jealous of all those who are my age or even younger and have been able to retire from their jobs!  That gives them more discretionary time, and that makes me so jealous!  They say, that if we are doing what we love to do as a job, it won’t feel like a job.  I think mine is definitely a job.

But I don’t give up.  Instead, I try to make as much of my none working, non sleeping time, as possible.  Try to cram in as much of everything as I can.  I know…that I am running out of time.  None of us knows exactly how much time we have left, but we all know that the older we get, the closer we are getting to the inevitability of dying of any of the many things that causes us to die in or later years.

I don’t feel like I have much discretionary time, because there is so much I need to do, want to do, and ought to do with the time I have available to me.  I am not able to just retire and live on dreams.  My job and my income is necessary if we want to have any kind of reasonable standard of living in our later years.

But I noticed the other evening, that at least a part of my time must be spent…to think.  And I’ve known that I need to think.  I’ve just felt so guilty when I’ve let that time away from me and “not accomplished”…anything….

Perhaps I can find a little peace in that…while I’m waiting on retirement, and hoping that retirement will find me with more discretionary time.

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