Balancing

Since entering into my first ‘proper job’, there are several things that have become apparent to me.  One can actually get up shortly after 6am five days a week and survive.  The prospect of going somewhere new for lunch can get you through a slow morning.  The workplace generates a completely different kind of banter from anything I’ve experienced before.  I could go on for several lines here…  But I think the biggest revelation has been that free time suddenly becomes a precious commodity.

Up until June this year, my working life had consisted of irregular hours and shift work, which lent itself nicely to having a lot of time where I could do as I pleased.  I had become accustomed to a student lifestyle of minimal time spent using my brain and maximum time using my liver, interspersed with some exercise and sleep.  I didn’t have to plan weeks ahead if I needed to go to the doctor or go shopping or have my hair cut: I just did it.  But now, the evenings and weekends last about as long as Prince Harry’s underwear in a Vegas hotel room, and by Sunday night I’ll realise that I’ve achieved pretty much nothing.  Which makes me wonder, how on earth does anyone get anything done?

Something that isn’t a particular concern of mine at the moment, but is a thought that has crossed my mind: how would a busy person ever go about getting on the London dating scene and meeting someone?  By the time you’ve finished work, gone to the gym, met up with friends (ones you can guarantee are worth spending time with), had drinks with your colleagues, done some food shopping, commuted etc., I would imagine the last thing you’d want to do is go to a dingy noisy bar to get chatted up by some guy who’s best line is ‘I’m an investment banker, I don’t have much time, let’s get out of here’.  Shouted inebriated conversations about where you work and what you do just don’t seem the best start to any kind of relationship.  Maybe having had a rather unfortunate ‘Abacus experience’ I have a rather jaded and warped opinion of the whole thing.  But my point is that working long hours combined with an active and social lifestyle does not lend itself to added extra-curricular activity.  No wonder so many people end up getting with their colleagues…

And then what about people who have more serious demands on their time, such as children and spouses and elderly parents and home renovations?  My worries about seeing enough friends and running 15k per week seem rather small beer in comparison.  I’m guessing this whole time management thing is a skill that comes with age: you learn how to juggle the different areas of your life.  And of course some sacrifices must be made.  So far my sacrifices amount to not eating dinner most evenings, only replying to messages from people I really want to see, and only going out with colleagues once a month.  Not exactly life-changing stuff.

So I imagine this is all part of a learning curve: how to work and play at a sustainable level.  Although if I’m having a few issues now, I’m guessing all hell will break loose once the serious stuff sets in.  I do realise that personal priorities change and evolve as you go along.  I assume that once you hit the kids stage of things, then the want (or need) to go out and get hammered on a Thursday night dwindles a bit.  Although, having said that, a couple of my colleagues are proving that’s not really the case.

I’m genuinely enjoying this whole growing up and leading a more adult lifestyle thing, but I can’t say I’m all that keen for the process to be sped up at all.  Long may my responsibility-free life last…