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I need to simplify

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Blackhawk
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I need to simplify

Post by Blackhawk »

The 'Tiny Houses' thread got me to thinking about a few things, and I wanted to get some thoughts out - and to hear others' input. Believe it or not, these threads help me work through these things quite a bit.

I do too much. I'm not talking about responsibilities, I'm talking about hobbies. I made a list of what I do as hobbies:

Painting miniatures
Board games
Tabletop RPGs
Comics (collecting and reading)
Reading (fiction)
Reading (non-fiction)
Film/TV (as in actively following multiple shows rather than something I watch an episode of a couple of times a week with the family)
Video Games

Any two or three of those in combination is enough to eat up all of a person's free time. Each one requires time, space, and money. And yet, I'm trying to do all at once, and I'm starting to realize that I'm mostly just spreading myself too thin. I end up stressed because I worked on A, but didn't do anything on B, and while I've been enjoying C, I feel guilty because D hasn't been touched in months and is eating money and space. So I do D out of duty, and try to get something done with B, but now A is being neglected and... wait, what happened to E? I'm not really enjoying any of them, as whenever I do one, I feel guilty about one of the others I invested in and am neglecting. So I either multitask like crazy (getting nothing done and not enjoying any of them), or force myself to do one (at which point it is work and I'm distracted by the others.)

I really feel like I need to eliminate some of them from my life.

Tabletop RPGs are easy to set aside, as my group collapsed in May. I'm in an online group, but it's one afternoon a month, and I'm not running it. So all I have to do there is just not start another group.

Reading isn't going anywhere. It's been a constant my entire life. Comics, other than collecting, is really just another type of reading, and given the amount of content out there and the relatively low cost of the subscriptions to DC (or Marvel), it is a great value and doesn't take up space.

Film/TV are probably also easy to eliminate. Most of the series I watch regularly are on hiatus, so my attachment to them is weak right now, and I just avoid picking a new series to start watching. I can still watch a film now and then, or watch a show with the family at dinner without making it a time sink.

So, I can keep reading, avoid RPGs and TV (RPGs are already a non-issues, as I'm approaching this with them seven months in the past), and that only leaves....

Painting miniatures
Board games
Video Games

:?

I don't like the personal cost of giving up any of these.

Two of those, painting and board games, go together, at least to some degree. If I gave up board gaming and RPGs, there wouldn't be a lot of drive to paint. The two together represent a huge amount of money and space (relative to the others, that is - I know I spend a fraction of what some here do.) Besides, all of my board gaming friends are gone, my eldest won't play board games anymore, Michelle never has, and my youngest rarely does. It's just me. If I did give them up, I'd save a crap-ton of money, and I'd quickly recover enough space to remove a lot of our other storage issues in the house (three bookshelves floor-to-ceiling for games, miniatures, and sundry - dice, organizers, dice towers, cards, etc, plus one entire wall of the bedroom that's dedicated to painting, plus odds and ends.) However, I'd also lose board gaming, my last physical, tactile hobby. I have a bunch of really, really cool stuff there that I'd hate to get rid of. Besides, I have several Kickstarters still on the way. And if I did, what would I do with the stuff I have? It isn't like I have a FLGS I could sell stuff to, and storing them would save time and money, but wouldn't save much space, as I'd pretty much have to store them where they're already at.

Video gaming? That's the biggest time sink, but it's also my most consistent activity, and it is my favorite escape. It also wouldn't save that much space. My youngest only games on the PC, so the desk would stay regardless, and the consoles only take up space in the entertainment center, which isn't an issue. I've been burned out lately, but a lot of that, I think, is because of being pulled in so many directions. Besides, I still have video gaming friends (Hi, Brian, hi BD! I'd say hi to you, too, Ham Spade, but you'll never read this. Yeah, it sounds like video games aren't going anywhere.

I suppose there's another possibility - stop painting. Keep board gaming, but stop trying to paint miniatures for it. The pros - it would save some space. It wouldn't save a ton of money, as it is largely a maintenance cost hobby (replacing a bottle of paint or a brush now and then isn't all that expensive.) It is a big time sink, though. The cons? Of the original list, two of the hobbies (tabletop RPGs and painting) are my creative outlets. None of the others allow much expression or active imagination. That's something I want in my life. If I gave up both painting and board games, I'd likely replace them with some other creative activity that was less resource (space, money, time) intensive. If I just gave up painting and replaced it there would be no real change.

So, with all that brainstorming out, I'm left with

Painting miniatures
Board games

Tabletop RPGs
Film/TV (as in actively following multiple shows rather than something I watch an episode of a couple of times a week with the family)
Video Games
Reading (various)

OR


Painting miniatures
Tabletop RPGs
Film/TV (as in actively following multiple shows rather than something I watch an episode of a couple of times a week with the family)
Video Games
Reading (various)
Board games


As I've said before, these threads of mine are sometimes mostly a journaling exercise to let me straighten my thoughts out, but I'd love to hear what other people think. I'm full of shit often enough that I've learned to look for feedback!
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Re: I need to simplify

Post by Holman »

Just a consideration: are there other time sinks you haven't listed? Are they really worth the time?

For example, I love to think of myself as a game-player, but I easily spend the majority of my "gaming time" just doomscrolling Twitter or surfing the internet to little effect. If I could exercise more discipline there, I could actually play MORE games in LESS time.

Another question is which hobbies produce benefits beyond simple pleasure. My family has finally gotten to a place where at least some of us always have a tabletop game going. (Currently we're into ROOT.) So I don't even consider that "gaming time" at all; it's solidly enjoyable family time.

Reading probably counts there too, even though it's a mostly a solo pursuit. Reading is important for the development and maintenance of your mind, so much so that it's closer to healthy exercise than simple entertainment.

Time management is definitely an issue for me. (I've recently begun to accept that I have some form of adult ADD.) I'll be watching this thread.
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Re: I need to simplify

Post by dbt1949 »

Are you trying to save time or money?
If time, what do you think you should be doing instead of your hobbies?
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Re: I need to simplify

Post by Blackhawk »

dbt1949 wrote: Fri Jan 01, 2021 6:29 pm Are you trying to save time or money?
If time, what do you think you should be doing instead of your hobbies?
Time isn't a problem for me. I'm still on disability and my kids are old enough that parenting is a now-and-then thing, so my time is that of a retired person.

Stress, money, and mental energy. The stress of always knowing that the thing I'm not doing is a thing I want to be doing, or is a thing I invested in enough that it shouldn't be neglected, or that I've done a little bit of everything and haven't gotten anywhere. The money of trying to maintain enough hobbies to keep me busy for 30 hours a day when I only need to fill 10.

I'd rather dedicate myself to a couple of things and really take the time to enjoy them than spread myself out across six or eight and barely appreciate any of them. I just need to figure out how to remove things I love from my life to allow myself to appreciate other things I love. Hell, it sounds like I'm a hoarder - except that my hoard is interests!
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Re: I need to simplify

Post by Isgrimnur »

If you are prone to burnout, put them on rotation. If painting requires adjustment due to temperature/humidity, I'd say block out some months where it is a hobby and others where its not.
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Re: I need to simplify

Post by dbt1949 »

I'm still confused on your burnout.
Do you feel guilty you're not doing something "important" with your life?
Or just overwhelmed by your hobbies?
I was doing pretty much everything you're doing but I was running out of room too. So I made the decision to forego my hobbies except for reading and PC gaming. I have a kindle so book storing is not a problem anymore (or at least it's not getting bigger).
Plus getting olde means my eyesight is poor and boardgames and miniatures are hard to see.
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Re: I need to simplify

Post by Blackhawk »

dbt1949 wrote: Fri Jan 01, 2021 7:20 pm I'm still confused on your burnout.
Do you feel guilty you're not doing something "important" with your life?
Or just overwhelmed by your hobbies?
It isn't burnout. I get burnout. This isn't it. The problem is that I have so many things I enjoy doing that I end up not enjoying any of them because of trying to keep up with all of them at once. I therefore want to remove enough of them that I can truly enjoy the rest.

The space and money issues are secondary (but not insignificant.) They're more about me looking at which of the equally loved activities has the most downsides to figure out which to prune.
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Re: I need to simplify

Post by hitbyambulance »

i had this exact issue. i was 'dabbling' in soooo many things, but not really committing/mastering any of them. it fills the ADD 'needs' but isn't otherwise too satisfying.

my solution was anything that could be considered creative outlet or productive to take top priority. also had to prune the neverending 'trying' list and commit to two main productive activities - one would be professional related, and the other would be a personal mastery 'what-has-always-mattered-to-me'. so for me, the former was coding, and the latter is illustration/drawing. after some thought, i felt very confident that focusing on those two pursuits would return the most return on productivity, development and satisfaction.

i do read a lot, but like mentioned above, i consider it more moral development/brain exercise than a hobby. bicycling is also important, but that's physical exercise. i gave up TV a long time ago and film/cinema is relegated to about once a month, at most, so that frees up the schedule. (returns on TV viewing are prettttty low, in my estimation). don't have a boardgaming group :( videogaming kinda goes in cycles - there are times i just completely lose interest in it, and that's when other activities become more important. right now, i'm pretty into it, so maybe reading time takes a hit - for a while. (reading habits would be another interesting area to discuss...)

did start feeling last summer i was reading *too* much. that was a sign to start focusing more on the productive/creative activities.
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Re: I need to simplify

Post by Blackhawk »

I've honestly begun to wonder about ADHD. It would answer a lot of questions, but I've always been hesitant because of the overlap with symptoms of autism. Maybe it's time I take a closer look.
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Re: I need to simplify

Post by dbt1949 »

I had ADHD about 15 years ago. Last a couple of years and then went away. I don't know if it was a chemical imbalance or a mental one but in my case it did go away.
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Re: I need to simplify

Post by Malificent »

I had something similar to this at one point, where I had this long list of TV shows that I wanted to watch and I was worried about not "keeping up" with my list and more TV was being created then I could manage. Then someone told me (or I read somewhere), that when you walk into a library, you don't panic about not being able to read ALL the books. You pick ones you want to read right then, the stuff you're interested in at that moment. That changed my perspective and I've stopped fretting quite so much.

Your list of hobbies is pretty similar to mine and I've just resigned myself to the fact that until I retire in 12 years, I won't be able to do it all. So I accept that I will do what I'm interested in at any one point and that there may be times when I go through long droughts of not doing thing X or activity Y. But I also know that I'll drift back. I didn't do a lot of photography for a while after going a through really intense period of learning. Then I started taking pictures of my minis. All will come around.

Don't know if this helps, but I do get where you're coming from.
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Re: I need to simplify

Post by Smoove_B »

Blackhawk wrote: Fri Jan 01, 2021 6:55 pmI'd rather dedicate myself to a couple of things and really take the time to enjoy them than spread myself out across six or eight and barely appreciate any of them. I just need to figure out how to remove things I love from my life to allow myself to appreciate other things I love. Hell, it sounds like I'm a hoarder - except that my hoard is interests!
I'm in the same boat. Not very helpful, but I find that I actually like learning new things and learning about new things. For example, I've been trying to participate in solo RPGing for the last year. Instead of actually doing it, I've read half a dozen books (rule systems) to try and understand what it might entail. I like reading board game manuals. I like learning about new rule systems or seeing what creative variants board game designers have created of common systems (like deck building or card-based RPG systems). I like experimenting with new types of paints or brushes or techniques but the idea of sitting down to mass-paint an entire set of miniatures has me switching my interest immediately to something else. I am constantly bouncing around between 3-4 different hobbies and yeah, it's a problem because that means I'm also in real danger of hoarding books, games and materials associated with never doing a deep-dive into anything, but instead dabbling in various things.

I don't have an answer here, but you're not alone. I never attributed it to being bored or having ADHD. For me it's always about just learning something new.
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Re: I need to simplify

Post by hitbyambulance »

i should clarify that i'm not ADHD (as far as i know) tho the behavior was similar. i believe i said this before, but i have a friend on the autism spectrum who said once that people on the high-functioning part of the spectrum seem to be especially well-suited to lifelong learning.
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Re: I need to simplify

Post by Blackhawk »

Yeah, I always, always have to be studying something. I always have, and when I do so, I do so intensely, usually until I burn out. It's too bad that causes me to jump from subject to subject - I know a little about a lot of things, but I'm not especially knowledgeable about any particular one of them.
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I need to simplify

Post by Zarathud »

Blackhawk wrote:The money of trying to maintain enough hobbies to keep me busy for 30 hours a day when I only need to fill 10.

I'd rather dedicate myself to a couple of things and really take the time to enjoy them than spread myself out across six or eight and barely appreciate any of them.
Its a matter of accepting what you can’t do, so you can enjoy what you can.

Work the last few years has been really kicking my ass, and with medical shit I had to realize I can’t do everything I want. Losing an hour a day to treatment removes time I don’t have, but the alternative is another hospital visit. As a result, my PC gaming is way down. With board games, opportunities haven’t been matching my energy which sucks. Painting has been consistent because it’s low impact and I “finish” a mini every few days and I mentally need that closure. RPGs have become family time with the kids getting involved. My TV watching is also family driven — pulpy TV when the kids are interested, and one adult show at a time for when they’re not. Reading comes in when I find something interesting or need to wind down.

I have accepted my limitations, and try to get in enough of each hobby to be satisfying without being obsessed.
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Re: I need to simplify

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I already have a headache and this isn't even my problem to solve.
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Re: I need to simplify

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naednek wrote: Sun Jan 03, 2021 1:17 pm I already have a headache and this isn't even my problem to solve.

Ok...

?
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Re: I need to simplify

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Blackhawk wrote: Fri Jan 01, 2021 6:15 pm I do too much. I'm not talking about responsibilities, I'm talking about hobbies. I made a list of what I do as hobbies:

Any two or three of those in combination is enough to eat up all of a person's free time. Each one requires time, space, and money. And yet, I'm trying to do all at once, and I'm starting to realize that I'm mostly just spreading myself too thin. I end up stressed because I worked on A, but didn't do anything on B, and while I've been enjoying C, I feel guilty because D hasn't been touched in months and is eating money and space. So I do D out of duty, and try to get something done with B, but now A is being neglected and... wait, what happened to E? I'm not really enjoying any of them, as whenever I do one, I feel guilty about one of the others I invested in and am neglecting. So I either multitask like crazy (getting nothing done and not enjoying any of them), or force myself to do one (at which point it is work and I'm distracted by the others.)
I understand the feeling. I have given myself permission to let entertainment type hobbies wax and wane. I will read, watch Netflix, or play video games as the urge strikes without feeling guilty. I have mentally budgeted $30 per month to spend on this (currently Netflix and Game Pass but normally Netflix plus game purchases). I try to keep the Netflix portion down (which is actually very easy for me) because I think reading and video games are better mental stimulation.

Outside of that I try to have one hobby where I am actively learning. I do feel guilty that this often stays at a learning, planning, thinking level because I'm too cheap to go out and buy the tools or gear but as long as I am actively learning I'm not too worried. Ultimately I feel that it is better to do many things well than to focus on mastering one particular hobby.

I have some thoughts on physical things but I'll put them in a different reply.
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Re: I need to simplify

Post by Cylus Maxii »

You are lucky to be having this issue (lots of fun things to do). Still, I understand that anything can get overwhelming, especially in these times.

I, myself, suffer from the hobby of turning all of my hobbies into accumulations. Note that I wrote "accumulations" vs "collections". In truth, these are not the sort of curated dragon hoards of precious items that represent sentiment and history or bring me closer in touch with my special interests. I have friends who authentically and intentionally have collections. What I have are unintentional accumulations that occur when I get too much backlog; usually when I have funds but no time.

So, your hobbies: You have stuff that covers a lot of different sorts of experiences and stimulates you in different ways. Reading is an awesome hobby with huge benefits in mental health. You can't possible drop that one. Painting minis is great for both creativity and fine motor skills. That one is a keeper. All gaming hobbies are mentally engaging on multiple levels and may be major social outlets as well. So, clearly those are keepers. Comics bring many people lots of satisfaction and can be a good avenue for social engagement and conversation (geek topics, yay!). And even computer games are awesome.

Anyway, maybe the issues aren't that you have multiple engaging things to do, but rather balance or accumulation. I find that my accumulations tend to bring my otherwise fun hobbies to a standstill. I have too many things to read, build or play and end up not having a good place to start. Or I have no space or feel like I should be cleaning up before I can even get started. What has worked for me in the past is careful pruning. Maybe you need to just do some sort of cleanout and let some stuff go so you can focus on the best parts of each interest. Focus down the the point that you can actually have a lot of anticipation for some new project or release vs feeling like its just more accumulation that you don't know where to start on.
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Re: I need to simplify

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I may just try to break out of one of my steel traps. That's right, I may get out a thematic board game and play it with... unpainted miniatures! :shock:
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Re: I need to simplify

Post by raydude »

Hi Blackhawk,

While I am not as "distributed" as you are in terms of hobbies, I do have much of the same interests:

RPGs
miniatures painting
board games
video games
reading

I think the thing that keeps me from spreading out my time into the first three is that I haven't found an RPG group and my kids don't want to play the board games I have, which means that there is no point in painting the miniatures. I will occasionally break out the paints and paint miniatures but again there I am limited by the space that I have - I don't have a lot of indoor space so I wait until the spring/summer to apply the primer coats and let stuff dry outside. And since I don't want to paint until I can prime that limits my painting to seasonal times of the year.

The lack of playmates hasn't stopped me from buying board games but again there my limited space is helping to curb my enthusiasm. My mom is a bit of a hoarder/collector and I remember growing up in houses where there was just so much stuff! I swore that I would never be like that so when I look at my collection and what I want to buy I have to ask myself if I really want to live in a cluttered house like my mom does.

Which leaves video games and reading as my major time sinks. Lately I've been spending a lot of time on video games - well on one video game, Cyberpunk 2077, and I have been feeling guilty about not reading as much. Luckily I've already done two endings of the game and the setting has led me to want to read Gibson's Spraw Trilogy again.

So in rambling maybe I've found a suggestion as to how to allocate your time. Maybe spend time on one thing, let it spark an interest in another thing, go to that thing until it sparks an interest in something else, and so on. While on each segment of your path just focus on that thing until you feel like you've done enough, then move on.
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Re: I need to simplify

Post by naednek »

Blackhawk wrote: Sun Jan 03, 2021 1:44 pm
naednek wrote: Sun Jan 03, 2021 1:17 pm I already have a headache and this isn't even my problem to solve.

Ok...

?
Sorry I wasn't trying to be insensitive. Just saying a lot of thoughts with so many scenarios which would give me a headache :P
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Re: I need to simplify

Post by dbt1949 »

I could probably get back into board gaming if I had a place to permanently set up.
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Re: I need to simplify

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dbt1949 wrote: Mon Jan 04, 2021 6:25 pm I could probably get back into board gaming if I had a place to permanently set up.
FWIW, the IKEA Norden Gateleg table is perfect for small spaces. Both sides of the table can be folded down to an extremely compact set of drawers in the centre (ideal for storing board game accessories), and you can lift up one leaf for smaller games or expand both sides large enough to seat 4-6 people and accommodate larger-sized games:

Enlarge Image

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Re: I need to simplify

Post by Smoove_B »

I ordered that for myself at some point in the summer or fall (it's all blurring for me now) and it's been a *perfect* addition for board gaming. Perfect. Between the modular table size and the storage drawers, it's a really great option. I also added small casters, making it even better as I can now wheel it around my office like I'm a Vegas magician. Would definitely recommend this table if it's a possibility. You can also hide behind it in the event of nuclear attack. It's solid.
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Re: I need to simplify

Post by Blackhawk »

I was doing some reading, and I came across a term: overchoice, sometimes called choice overload. It's a psychological term that's usually bandied around in marketing circles. Simply put, the more choices you have, the less happy you are with your choices.

It works sort of like this: If you have three things to choose from, you choose the one that fits your preferences, and you're happy with the choice. If you have a hundred things to choose from, you'll find that a dozen fit your preferences. At that point, unless there is something about one of them that makes it fundamentally superior, your mind enters a state in which it is trying to choose between multiple equally 'good' options with no real basis for making that choice. This forces you into a state where you're more focused on the choice you didn't make than the one you did make. To put it another way, when you have a dozen equally good options, you aren't just choosing one of them, you're denying 11 of them. You try to pick the option that you want most, and immediately feel like you want one of the others more. It's a type of cognitive dissonance where you feel that A, B, and C are all the best choice at once. Most people in this situation either choose and are unhappy with their choice, choose and then change (repeatedly), or simply give up and don't choose at all.

How does this apply to my situation (and possibly the situations of some of the others in this thread who say they have the same problem?) In the modern age, we have a number of choices that would have been unbelievable a generation ago. In the first post, I made a list:

Painting miniatures
Board games
Tabletop RPGs
Comics
Reading fiction
Reading non-fiction
Film/TV
Video Games

That's a lot of choices, but it goes further. Right now I have dozens of board games I want to play. Thanks to online options, I have access to thousands of comics, with dozens of series I want to read. I have hundreds of books I'd like to read, and thanks to Amazon, access to thousands more. I have dozens of TV series and probably hundreds of films in my mental 'want to watch' list, and thanks to Streaming I can pick any of them. I have hundreds of video games.

Humans aren't wired to make choices that way. If I wanted to sit down and play a video game and had a dozen to pick from (the way it was pre-Steam), I'd just pick the one that seemed like the most fun right then. But between Steam and all of the others, including all the regular freebies, and especially as a veteran of the Bundle Wars, I probably have in excess of a thousand games to choose from. Which one feels like the most fun right now? About twenty. And whichever one I sit down to play, I'll immediately be thinking about the ones I'm not playing. And if it is a long game, I'll be desperate for the next one before I'm halfway through, to the point where I stop enjoying the one I'm playing.

I don't know the solution, but it's nice to have found a little perspective on what my damned brain has been doing to me. Stupid human psychology.
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Smoove_B
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Re: I need to simplify

Post by Smoove_B »

Indeed. If you want to read more, check here. It's your choice. :wink:
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hitbyambulance
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Re: I need to simplify

Post by hitbyambulance »

i used to get asked all the time, why don't i do music streaming? because i own many hundreds, nay, thousands of albums already, i am desperate to cut down on the 'overchoice' brainload. just ignoring streaming as an option actually helps my mental state, in this way.
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dbt1949
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Re: I need to simplify

Post by dbt1949 »

Lately I've simplified. Now I spend most of my free time watching YouTube videos .
Good thing I spent a jillion dollars buying new video games during the holiday sales. Think of all the money I saved!
Ye Olde Farte
Double Ought Forty
aka dbt1949
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