I decided to take this weekend off from work, considering I still have a full week until mock exams, another month and a half, including three weeks of study leave, until real exams, and I’m in serious danger of running out of past papers to do, considering I only do three subjects.
However, in relaxing this weekend, I have become distracted – I spent this morning reading a friend’s Coursework essay and my sister’s English essay, and then spent an hour watching old Offspring music videos on YouTube instead of writing a blog post (I guess you could say I went far, kid). This made me wonder what does it mean to ‘relax’ – is it to do things one genuinely enjoys, or simply to do things that one did not plan to do?
If you consider that doing anything well requires concentration and effort, the latter idea makes more sense: I love playing Football Manager, but I’ll be the first to concede that about 99% of my experiences with the game are spent swearing at referees in post-match press conferences, and the other 1% is bitching about idiotic work permit requirements, because Bosnia and Herzegovina always seem to join the EU about four seconds after I give up signing that Bosnian playmaking wonderkid.
As a result, I am often stressed out and angry while ‘relaxing’, to the extent that I have genuinely resorted to writing essays as a break from FM in the past, an inversion that reinforces the stereotype of everyone at my school spending all their time revising out of a love of work quite nicely.
Conversely, I have discovered some of my favourite bands while scrolling through ‘related videos’ on YouTube to find new music to listen to while playing FM: Courage My Love, Icon For Hire, Kvelertak, Guano Apes and The Nearly Deads were all found like this, and I enjoy all of these bands. Therefore, is it not the distraction from a pre-planned activity – listening to music when I intend to play FM – that is the real source of enjoyment, not that activity itself?
Furthermore, I’ve noticed that absolutely anything can become enjoyable when you’re confronted with a piece of work you don’t want to do; 2048 is an annoying, notification-jingling piece of garbage, but it sure beats learning the formation of a thunderstorm for a Geography essay again. I even enjoy most Geography essays when I’m able to discuss them in a more relaxed way in class, so perhaps the inherent stress of planning, and having, to do a thing, means the enjoyment of and interest in its content is automatically reduced to the level of watching paint dry.
Hell, I just chose to spend an hour watching old music videos instead of writing something, a decision that shouldn’t really have been made considering the whole ‘doing English at a Russell Group university’ thing that I’ve got going on. I think this is why I’ve had to take a few breaks from blogging in the past; my 152-day streak of daily posts from last November to this April became such a drag that the quality of my posts fell off a cliff, exemplified by the ease with which my ideas could be pulled apart in the comments of this post, and blogging became a chore to be procrastinated away from with work, not vice versa.
I’ve tried to avoid this recently, by intentionally not planning any activities for my days off, but this leads to feelings of unproductivity – I like to know that I’ve relaxed, and relaxed well, a process that requires German-style time management to ensure maximum fun is squeezed out of a day. I suppose this desire to make the most out of everything comes from my ‘A* or fail’ education, and will probably continue at University; maybe the only time I can ever relax by not doing anything will be in the two days immediately after an exam, or when I’m 76 and will be too tired for all of this time management nonsense.
But hey, I put 500 hours into FM 2013 with this system, so I’m pretty happy about the way I’m doing things.