How do you choose to spend your daily allotment of hours? 

The ones not taken up by pre-set obligations like work. Yet, even working in an office, you often have choices about how to structure your day.

Have you ever approached your day like supper at your favorite restaurant?

Let’s assume that you work forty hours a week for someone other than yourself and optimistically have a half-hour commute. That’s fifty hours a week for work, lunch, and drive time. (Right? I am the pits at math.)

What do you do with your before and after work hours? 

There’s a morning menu of things to do—

Appetizers can be my favorite part of dining out so being lucky enough to work at home, I take advantage of morning and do my favorite thing: write. With this being my prime time, I do the bulk of my writing during the early hours. I rise at six to dive into my day, rolling out of bed to my office, opening Scrivener, and working on blogs, articles for Medium, and the second Cosmic Cold Cases of Pittsburgh mystery: Death of Alon Chasdiel. 

There’s a spring deadline to get that novel to Jeri B.Walker for editing. She was great to work with on the first one, so I look forward to a repeat collaboration with her.

Late afternoons, my brain starts to get tired, so I move onto the main courses—those entrees that are usually so large I can’t finish them. I quit trying to be largely creative and turn to other aspects of my writing world that can be conquered in small bites. One task is to start querying agents this month for the first mystery: Murder at the Canalucci Creamery. I like to support other bloggers, so I go to my LinkedIn Bloggers Helping Bloggers group and read, comment, and share their blogs. Then I pop over to Medium and catch up with stories and commenters. 

This time is closely followed by time with my husband, and afterwards running errands, the occasional get together with friends, sometimes nothing but reading or watching a show. 

Dessert—an super enjoyable part of any meal that I’m often too full to indulge in comes next. With our workdays crammed full of often unchangeable demands, these evening hours are the ones that I’m curious about. Those hours and your weekend hours.

What do you do with them? 

How do you fill that time with life-enriching things rather than just use them up?

In the spring, our hours are spent doing yard work—bagging Sweet Gum Tree pods, planting flowers, mowing, weeding, and spraying to keep deer out of the yard so that we can appreciate our blooms. In autumn, we find time between rain drops to cut back or pull out dead flowers, harvest Zinnia seeds for next year’s plantings, and prepare the yard for dormancy.

Then comes the terrible time of winter. Cold. Snow. Bad roads. 

Restlessness and languor put in appearances during these short, darker northern days. I deplore winter. I hate shoveling snow and dread every winter because of it.  My much loved mower is parked for four months. The weeds I enjoy yanking out are in deep hiding beneath the frosted soil.

When I lived in the small town of Red Lodge, Montana, road conditions did not trap me in the house—I walked every where, visiting my garage occasionally to start my truck for the sake of making sure it would. In Pittsburgh, the winter roads are often icy and friends live distances away … the phrase “cabin fever” develops a deep personal context.

What do you do to keep your life from stagnating? I spent several years, September through April, attending Community Bible Study, with daily lessons and a weekly meeting. I still do bible studies at home with a friend as a good way to keep my brain—and heart—going forward. For a few years, some friends and I did The Artist’s Way and then continued to meet after we finished the course, challenging the winter blues by working on our creativity in new ways.

By eight in the evening, I’m waning and by ten I’m in bed hoping to stay awake long enough to read several pages of a good book (currently a favorite Bosch novel, The City of Bones) before drifting off to sleep. Some things I can’t read before sleeping, like the D-Day: Battle for Normandy or Unbroken. Those topics are too distressful. Like watching Criminal Minds and then trying to get a good night’s rest.

This winter I have new outdoor gear for walking at lunch time, getting a bit of sunshine on my face without freezing it off (first time for trying a Balaclava). That will help with any a

Maybe I'll resume my German lessons

Italian restaurant in Germany – you gotta love the world

fter-eating stupor. 

Maybe I’ll resume my German lessons and translate this menu or try my hand at crochet once again (which I am not as good at as I am at croquet).

What do you do in the discretionary hours available to you? Do you volunteer? Sew? Woodwork? Have a game night with your spouse or friends? What ways do you keep your brain and body active? How do you choose to interact with other people? How do you keep learning throughout your life?

What are you doing with the other hours—your hours—this winter?