Sunday, June 28, 2009

WHAT DO YOU DO ALL DAY?

Amongst all the great mysteries of the universe, the one that's always puzzled me most is, quite simply: What do people do every day?

I have chronic problems with the concept of a daily routine. That's not to say I'm one of these zany, radical individualists who reject, outright, the mere concept of "daily routine" as a cramp in their revolutionary style. Although I imagine their excuses for staying up past ten on a school night go something like this:

For God's sake, Mum! Manifesting the kind of life I always knew, deep down, I was supposed to live is pretty knackering! I was up 'til 4AM tirelessly documenting the magic in the everyday with my Soviet-era toy camera and publishing these hitherto-unappreciated small treasures on my blog. All week I've been benevolently performing the little acts of kindness that will, one day, change our world for the better. Besides, I'm doing polyphasic sleep this month, remember. Give me a break - I'll get up when I'm ready!

For me, the problem is rather more banal. Like every terminally-anxious Noughtie, my mental chronometry is completely out of wack. There's always too little, or, worse, too much time to complete the simplest of tasks. Foolhardily, I've also chosen a very modern way of making of living: piecemeal teaching and writing work here-and-there and as-and-when. Though it was chosen for its flexibility (like every other 25 year-old, I have an abject - and, might I add, rather self-important - fear of the nine-to-five) I've found myself trying to shape this formless morass of job into a reasonable (but oh-so-conventional) daytime chunk. Which somewhat misses the point of this kind of work (but reveals the terrible insidiousness of the hegemony of routine, right, whimsical internet chaps?)

Anyway, because of this, I'm a very eager student of what other people do all day. The hungry middle manager might have his copy of The Seven Habits of Highly Productive People, but I'm happy to say I get my lifestyle design fundamentals from autobiographies. Actually, I'd recommend the same to all apparently-reasonable people whose trigger fingers hover just a little too long over the Buy it Now button of books of a similar ilk.

Happily, I can now seek guidance whilst engaged in the very deferral activities which doom this whole scheme to failure via Daily Routines, a blog that collects extremely eminent peoples' methods of organising their days.

2 comments:

Jon said...

Hi Jenny,

I too have no idea what anyone does all day. I spend most of mine either sat in front of my desk pulling my hair out or engaged in errands. Whenever I go anywhere there seem to be people engaged in conversation in cafes, or in the park, or shopping. I wonder where the money comes from. And I live in a vast building full of arty types (it's supposed to be studio space), all of whom seem to be rushing about, making varnish, carrying things. But I don't know what anyone does.

I plan to get a 9-5 job one day. If anyone will let me. But first I have to finish my PhD, which seems to encourage endless floating about doing seemingly nothing and wondering how other people fill their days...

Jennifer Hodgson said...

Hi Jon,

Haha - yes I've signed up to start a PhD in September, so my bafflement will probably continue. Although having lived in close proximity to PhD students in the past, I have a No Guilt strategy on pondering and procrastination - they're a necessary & unavoidable part of the process. Something like: I'm in it for the long haul, so I might as well bed down and potter. Tho this theory may all fall apart come October.

"Errands" is a very interesting one, isn't it? Has the gratifying patina of a constructive use of time. I love "doing errands" 'cos I feel like a right go-getter. As for "making varnish" and "carrying things" - sound like displacement activities to me!

J