How do you spend your time after work?
January 17, 2022 10:11 AM   Subscribe

Like a lot of people with energy-vampire jobs, I get home from work and collapse into a pile on the couch and then arise, zombie-like, six hours later to get into bed. This is...bad, and has gotten much, much worse now that there aren't weeknight social events or dinners out that require me to put on pants and do the thing. In covid times, when there are few reasons to leave the house, how do you structure your non-work hours?

I've seen all the articles that are like, talking about Elon Musk gets into his cryotherapy tank or whatever, which for obvious reasons aren't super helpful. General tips ("make time for exercise") are also not as helpful for me -- I think what I need is like, an hour-by-hour "here is what I do after work" (+ why, if you want) to get a sense of a) what is typical AND b) what is achievable. I have a handful of hobbies and side-hustles that have sort of fallen to the wayside, so it'd be nice to see how you fit that kind of stuff in, if you do.
posted by goodbyewaffles to Health & Fitness (39 answers total) 59 users marked this as a favorite
We got pandemic dogs. (we also have kids, so that impacts this as well).

After work:
- walk dogs
- feed dogs
-make dinner
- on MWF I have tai chi classes (highly recommend; the dojo is a great place for interacting with humans, and ours does an amazing job with safety protocol)
- on TTh I spend an hour cleaning the house
- watch 30 minutes of TV with the children, then put them to bed
- watch a show of some kind with my spouse
- go to bed
posted by dpx.mfx at 10:18 AM on January 17 [1 favorite]

A dog helps force you to go out. I have also been drawing a lot of evenings. Can recommend the recent books of Lynda Barry that include drawing exercises that de-emphasize 'skill' and re-emphasize creativity and memory. I would think a different craft project could similarly provide a way to have a different kind of emotional space after work that isn't just screen vegging time.
posted by latkes at 10:37 AM on January 17 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: (no pets per landlord, though I appreciate the thought!)
posted by goodbyewaffles at 10:40 AM on January 17 [1 favorite]

Left to my own devices I will spend every evening of my life subsisting on Manhattans and cheese and crackers while reading the Internet cover to cover, so I get it. However, amazingly, I have mostly been able to avoid this for the last several years by having a standing appointment right after work. Right now my partner comes over immediately after work and we do a yoga class in my living room. Then I cook dinner while he does other stuff, then he does the dishes while I do other stuff, then we usually play cards or watch TV or do some other leisure activity. Sometimes after dinner he goes home to write for a while and then comes back. The “other stuff” is things like walking the dog, laundry, grocery shopping, etc. We’ve only been doing the yoga for a few months; before that the triggering event was his showing up with groceries for dinner. Basically the lynchpin to this system is a standing appointment for him to show up at my house for something. If I didn’t have him I would try to rope someone else into showing up at my house and would happily cook them dinner in exchange for saving me from my own sloth.
posted by HotToddy at 10:44 AM on January 17 [13 favorites]

A typical winter evening:
17h00-17h30 Chill with the kids, help with their homeworks
17h30-19h00 Food prep, dinner time, dishwashing & cleaning. This is prime family time with music but no TV/iPad/iPhone
19h00-20h00 A mix of helping with homeworks, playing music and good ol' chattin' by the fire
20h00-21h00 Kids are doing some screen time, I either do some house chores, some reading, or watching TV myself
21h00-23h00 Kids are in bed, I am either
- clearing the driveway with the snowblower
- in the garage workshop doing woodworking/making/tinkering
- in the house attempting to do something productive like learning Fusion 360, attempting to learn Python, knitting
23h00-24h00 usually some netflix and then I go to bed.
posted by ddaavviidd at 10:47 AM on January 17 [2 favorites]

I agree about both the dogs and the walking, tho per your update, no dogs! Well, some places take dogs, so maybe new place with dogs could be a goal for the future? (Alternatively, could you take a walk with some music or a podcast, would probably give you a bit of energy to do a hobby or side hustle?)

Single person in apartment:
1. I have two dogs I bring to work, and since they only get shorts walks at work, they get a longer walk as soon as we get home.
2. Next, prepare dinner for human and dogs, do dishes, and usually a little prep for next day's lunch.
3. With the food prepared we all eat dinner, at which time I usually watch a show or some Youtube.
4. After dinner (or the end of the show) I get up to be productive, which for me means painting for 1-2 hours recently. (This is new. Like many of us, before Jan 1 I would waste all my time on Youtube or the internet instead of the painting thing.)
5. Then, walk with dogs final last walk about 9:30-10.
6. Then to bed (with a bit more watching things and/or a little Plants V. Zombies), then lights out, which admittedly has been a bit too late in the 11:30pm range.
posted by Glinn at 10:50 AM on January 17

When I was working (retired now), I got home at 5:30 and spent the next half-hour preparing for the next day (lunch, clothes). Now 6:00 PM, I made dinner and watched TV until 8:00, at which point I went to bed. (Even after a year of retirement, I'm still struggling to lose the work habit. I'm still pretty much 5:00 AM to 8:00 PM, even though I have no reason to get up before sunrise.)
posted by SPrintF at 10:52 AM on January 17 [7 favorites]

I'm pretty terrible about this and I too have a tendency to crash on the couch immediately after dinner (I work from home and live alone and have no pets). But I have a couple of specific actions that have helped me be slightly less potatoish.

1) I try to do things BEFORE work whenever possible. Like, I do my grocery shopping at 7AM. I try to go for a walk in the woods most days before I sit down at my desk. I will chop up vegetables so I have them ready for dinner, stuff like that. Then if/when I'm drained at the end of the day it doesn't matter as much.

2) I do still have a couple of weekly activities, namely in-person choir rehearsals (with many many precautions) and a virtual French class. These take up a couple of hours a couple of nights a week, plus they require a certain amount of "homework" (which I am not great about doing but it's something).

3) If you can figure out a ritual that signals "the week is over!" I highly recommend it. Pre-Omicron, I had a rule that I had to leave the house and go do something on Fridays after work - no flopping directly onto the couch to start the weekend, because I found that I would just keep ruminating about work stuff well into Saturday if I didn't make a clean break which would lead to spending most of the weekend in couch potato mode. If I didn't have anything in particular planned I would walk to my friendly neighborhood brewery and have a beer and a snack from whatever food truck or restaurant popup was in residence that week. That feels too risky right now, and I haven't figured out another "default" thing to replace it. I guess I could go for ANOTHER hike but I go for kind of a lot of hikes already and anyway it's dark when I finish work. Maybe get takeout and watch a movie (or virtual concert or something?) that you've been specifically looking forward to? Make an unfamiliar fancy cocktail? (I just wanna go back to the brewery.)
posted by mskyle at 10:59 AM on January 17 [18 favorites]

Some activities for you that are very different from your work might replenish your energy, but are not immediately as appealing as TV, and hard to make the choice to do that instead. When you're cognitively and otherwise exhausted from work, it is not very practical to hope to cause yourself to do less tempting things by willpower alone. If you can establish a habit to do those things, it might help. For me, it's anything music related - dancing, playing instruments, whatever. There are good resources on establishing habits probably.

But I would also try not to judge yourself for this since that just takes away more energy. Usually I do very little after work at all and haven't succeeded in developing any routine.
posted by lookoutbelow at 11:17 AM on January 17 [1 favorite]

For me, the trick to avoiding the automatic couch-collapse is to do some small task or chore - doesn't matter how minor, just something that doesn't take too much energy or commitment. That's the crucial moment for me. Maybe it's just breaking down a box or two to go into recycling, or stacking a couple of dishes in the dishwasher, or playing a piano scale through a couple times. It's setting a small precedent to reset my thoughts from the automatic inertia of Do Nothing Mode. Getting past that initial hump in turn makes it easier for the single small effort to grow into further action, like maybe finishing loading the dishwasher or segueing into doing some other chore; or playing that scale engages my enthusiasm enough to stay seated at the piano and continue practicing. Then I just try to keep building on those small efforts and extend the amount of time I haven't collapsed on the couch, depending on how many spoons I have available that day.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:20 AM on January 17 [8 favorites]

Think about what gives you energy and helps the time pass effortlessly..

you’re an extrovert maybe you could have a phone call while you go for a walk, do chores and then set up for your hobby, then get off the phone and dive right into the hobby?

Or maybe listening to an entire album per day while doing stuff?

Zoom dinner plans where you both cook the same recipe and then eat and chat over zoom?

Also, buy a bedsheet that matches your decor and cover your tv when it’s not in use. Don’t have it there staring at you begging to be turned on!
posted by nouvelle-personne at 11:24 AM on January 17 [1 favorite]

I wrap up work around 5:00pm and do some version of the following:

5p-6p: Exercise (I use Fitness Blender or Yoga With Kassandra)
6p-7p: Make or reheat dinner (my partner and I usually make something nice, but simple and that is together time)
7p - 7:30p: Eat dinner, talk connect with partner
7:30p - 9:30p: Some combination of relax with a bit of TV and knitting, doing a simple chore like laundry or vacuuming, ordering groceries/paying bills, call a friend.
9:30p - 10p: Getting ready for bed, shower or a hot bath
10p - whenever I fall asleep: Read, crossword, sexy-time

Sometimes I'll participate in a community event via Zoom and we are venturing out for theatre and music now so a couple of times a month we actually go out.
posted by brookeb at 11:27 AM on January 17 [1 favorite]

I’m going to start this at 7, which is after my toddler has gone to bed

7-730/8 - collapse into a pile on the couch and stare at the internet
8-9 - rouse myself and clean whatever is annoying me the most. Often it’s maintenance housework but sometimes there’s a project. Last nights project was trying to fix the automatic soap dispenser. I learned I need a new soap dispenser.
After 9 - remind myself I have interests and try to do some of them. This week I’m putting together a huge Lego set while watching tv. Other night I take a bath with a book, bake, play video games, just do something fun that I enjoy.
I go to bed between 10 and 11, feeling rested and like I accomplished something, it’s nice.

I definitely had a higher bar for myself before this pandemic but right now if the house is moderately clean and I spent a little bit of time doing something that makes me happy I consider it a win.
posted by lepus at 11:27 AM on January 17 [2 favorites]

Time-restricted eating helps me a bit with this. I don't eat after six in the evening, so I don't fall into the trap of eating and watching TV as entertainment like I used to. I also have way more energy in general when I don't eat sugar - that seems to get rid of my mid-afternoon slump and my evening slump.

I have a few things that I require myself to do every day that I don't have a set schedule for, so I often do those in the evening (a certain number of minutes spent cleaning and writing - I literally give myself stickers on a calendar for completing them). I think I would do better with a schedule though. I recently made up a set schedule for mornings, and that seems to help a lot with getting out of bed and getting going. So I'm working on an evening schedule - for me, it works best to start with something small and manageable, then build around it. So my first goal, which I've just started, is to write between 7 and 7:30 in the evenings, with plans to increase the time as I get acclimated.
posted by FencingGal at 11:54 AM on January 17 [2 favorites]

I work from home and live alone with no pets. I’m a strong introvert.

5-6: something physical - a walk, cleaning, a run, yoga, anything that gets me not sitting.
6-7: piano, reading, a puzzle, something non-physical that doesn’t involve a screen.
7-8: make and eat dinner, clean kitchen, usually with podcasts.
8-10: the same as 6-7, or calling/texting friends

More realistically, this happens about once a week; the other nights I plop on my couch after dinner and veg for a few hours. Even then, though, I try to do a craft so that I’m limited to one screen at a time.

Nowadays I have D&D one night a week, and an exercise club two others, so my night time hours are fuller and less self-directed.

Last winter I started going to bed right after dinner, because I can wake up at 5 or 6 and not be tempted by the TV - I would do hobbies/exercise until 8AM, then get ready for work. That’s not super conducive to a social life, though.
posted by punchtothehead at 12:02 PM on January 17

[I haven’t tried this yet but] I’ve decided I can only stream something I’ve intentionally planned to stream. Like a series I’ve never seen before and need to savor because there are only so many episodes. It’s easy for me to house 4-5 episodes of the X-files I’ve seen a million times before while mindlessly scrolling. A new series means I actually have to pay attention and I’m not able to actually do that for 5 hours. My hope is this will naturally force me to do something else with the rest of the hours.

I appreciate the advice to make sure this isn’t a thing to beat yourself up about. Because beating yourself up makes you depressed and depression fuses you to the couch.
posted by kapers at 12:05 PM on January 17 [1 favorite]

We try to stick to a schedule in the evenings - which is much harder with the entire family working and learning from home. Typically I log off work around 430 but keep my work phone on me for a couple of hours in case of an emergency. After 630 it goes back into my office to charge and I don't look at it until once quickly before bed.

My wife deals with the kids right after school ends at 3 - they have a quick snack then it's homework while she starts dinner prep around 4. We are really feeling the pinch of food pricing so we try to make meals from scratch Mon to Thurs, then have pizza or burgers as a treat on Friday. After homework is done for the kids it's piano practice for each in turn. I take the dog for a walk since he wants to sing along with the piano, and I need to de-link from work (it's an intense job).

We usually eat by 6. Dinner is always eaten together at the table but our pandemic concession is that everyone can read a paper book or Kindle while we eat (if the food isn't messy). Kids and I then clean up the kitchen and get the dishwasher going. Then it's outside for them or (if weather is bad) down to the basement to play with toys and/or "fun screens." By 8pm it's time to get on pyjamas, brush teeth, and settle down to read or do something quiet in their rooms. Lights out for them at 9. During those two hours for us it's exercise bike time, or my wife and I play on our phones or watch an episode of something, or get caught up on a chore. At nine the kids are in bed with lights out and we go to bed to read for half an hour or or so. Our lights go out between 930 and 10. I am usually asleep with minutes, my poor wife has a harder time getting to sleep so will sometimes go back out to the family room to read. Rinse and repeat until Friday!

One tactic we have really stuck to during WFH in the pandemic has been to do as much of our household chores throughout the day and evening on Thursday - especially laundry and grocery shopping. That way, when Friday afternoon rolls around, you can just start the weekend without worrying about cleanup on Saturday. It's not perfect but it has really helped us.
posted by fortitude25 at 12:08 PM on January 17 [4 favorites]

I too tend to "flop on the couch till it's bedtime".

I don't have an hour by hour schedule though.

Take a walk, take a drive, find a place I've never been before (small town, State, county, or municipal park), photograph interesting things. I like to wander in graveyards -- there are so many stories. At home: try and get through a series of books, or re-read a series of favorites (I'm doing Robert B Parker's Spenser series now). No, it's not high-brow, I would never get through that.

Yoga or tai chi is easily streamed and more chill than traditional exercise.

I just joined a club where we all send poems on postcards. We're all supposed to get 4 or 5 back.

Finally, please don't guilt yourself. I have Hashimoto's and sometimes my body just says "enough." And I obey it.

Research something that you've always wanted to know about.
posted by intrepid_simpleton at 12:41 PM on January 17 [2 favorites]

Are there any volunteer opportunities, in person locally, or online, that you can help out with at a regular time?
posted by tardigrade at 1:13 PM on January 17

Caveat: I barely have a job at all.

There was a coffeeshop more or less on my way home from work. If I got there by 6:30 I could go in and work on my hobby. Often that meant just tinkering, or Wikipedia. Some days the coffeeshop’s music was better than others. I asked once, and they said that Spotify has a playlist called Coffeeshop, and that’s what the better stuff was. They closed at 7.

Nowadays I have Pretend Coffeeshop. I make myself hot chocolate and sit in a room with a closed door, with a timer for Coffeeshop Closing Time. I haven’t subscribed to Spotify yet.

My phone has a sequence of alarms, which I sometimes obey. Most useful: EAT WHATEVER, at eight o'clock. Which means: stop pretending you’re going to cook, and just eat whatever’s ready to hand, e.g. peanut butter, banana, cereal, so you can do the next thing.

I’m in a sofa-zombie-compatible Zen book group that meets Thursday evenings by Zoom. Texts under a page long, no need to read in advance: they're read aloud, then everyone takes 5 minutes to write a reaction, and a bit of that gets read aloud. Less is more. “I don’t understand X, and I hate it because Y, and also I had a crappy day” is fine. Then we talk. For the first and last 5 minutes, we sit silently-ish. Sometimes we hear other people’s cats, traffic, etc. which is probably my favorite part.
posted by feral_goldfish at 1:18 PM on January 17 [7 favorites]

I feel like it's really helped me "be more effective" to kind of.. intentionally look at my time.

I make a small to do list of things I'd like to get done tonight. I actually write this down, because I feel like the act of making this some kind of official little list seems to make me feel more connected to it. I think it's important to be very realistic with how small this list is - it depends on my energy level when I'm making it, and I try not to put more on there than I really feel up to. I'd rather be satisfied with myself accomplishing 2 things, than having a list for 6, feeling like I don't have time or energy, and then ignoring them all. For example, sometimes my list is actually like:

1.water plants
2.unload dishwasher

which seems very lame but at least it's a minimum of things that needed to be done and I don't feel a sense of overwhelm by looking at it. Honestly I will probably get more done than that, but it's just gravy at that point. Also sometimes it's my night to cook dinner on top of a list like that and then I WON'T get any more done.

I like to carry this idea of setting intentions even into the relaxing activities. Like, if I've accomplished my two things already, I might start watching tv and playing on my phone, but I will think "I will watch 2 episodes of this" and then at that two episode mark, I make myself stop the show and consider. Do I actually want to watch another episode? Will I feel better about it if I first load a few of the dishes on the counter into the dishwasher and take out the composting? Sometimes I want to do something like that, sometimes I'd just like to watch more tv and I also let myself do that, but at least I had the moment of discussion and thought. I made the choice to relax. Sometimes I'll change activities to another relaxing activity.

The lock screen on my phone is a little comic that says "you can't waste time, it's impossible. You're doing what you're doing, and that's just what's happenin, baby." and I think it's kind of inspiring, so I like to think about what it is I'm actually doing?
posted by euphoria066 at 1:42 PM on January 17 [6 favorites]

I scheduled 8 pm as my time to relax and flop on the couch. At 8ish, chores stop and I take a shower and put on my soft pants. I sit with the cat and read or watch TV / play video games / text friends until about 10, when I do my bedtime routine. I have an unending stream of house projects, so the concept is that if I have designated relaxing time, I’ll find my to do list less overwhelming and I’ll sleep better. It seems to help! If I feel garbagey, I’ll meld with the couch earlier, but I am doing better at cooking an actual dinner and packing a lunch and maybe doing some chores before chill time.

Next goal is going to the gym, but I have an injury and am giving myself a pass for a few weeks.
posted by momus_window at 1:44 PM on January 17 [1 favorite]

Just chiming in to say that I am very much struggling with similar couch sloth. Three years ago I played sports 2-3 nights a week, then maybe caught up with friends or went to a movie another 1-2 nights, and stayed in 1-2 nights. For the past two years it's been cook dinner, couch, and TV, rinse, repeat. Mostly due to the pandemic but also worsening knee problems that ended my adult rec sports hobbies. Things that have helped: signing up to volunteer at a food bank one evening shift a week, standing trivia night with friends on Thursdays, trying to do 10,000 steps a day which often leads to an after dinner walk. Good luck! I'll be reading along with interest.
posted by emd3737 at 1:49 PM on January 17 [5 favorites]

I’ve been calling friends and family after dinner the past few weeks and tidying or organizing while we talk. It’s been really enjoyable and helps break the couch-sloth cycle for me.

The other thing that’s helped is eating dinner at the table instead of in front of the TV. I looooove tv so it’s easy to get sucked in once it’s on!
posted by stellaluna at 2:17 PM on January 17 [1 favorite]

I've recently tried to take at least half an hour away from screens immediately when I finish work, before the dinner rush starts. This can mean exercising, reading a book on the couch, playing my guitar, or putting a record on and actually sitting there and listening to it.

Then it's time to make dinner. After dinner there's some tidying up and doing the kid's bedtime routine. Often that means Facetiming with my parents on the other side of the country, playing some card games, and reading together.

After the kiddo's in bed, we usually watch TV for a bit and then I'll go to bed and read some more until I start to get drowsy.
posted by synecdoche at 2:57 PM on January 17

I teach two nights a week, and take a writing class on a third. On my class days, I get home a little after 8pm and am pretty spent: quick reheated dinner, then read in bed for an hour or so. I need to be up by 6:30 for work, so early bedtimes are the rule.

On non-class nights, I'm usually home by 5.30 and try to go for a walk if it's still light out (i.e. daylight savings time). Then I meal prep lunches and dinners for the upcoming longer days, eat while watching Jeopardy! (Amy Schneider!!!) and will write/revise for an hour or so before bed.

Pre-pandemic I used to do more social stuff in the evenings, usually directly after work to avoid the "now I'm home, so why are pants?" but my teaching responsibilities have ramped up considerably in the last couple years, so I've just come to terms with being a lame 30-something.
posted by basalganglia at 3:03 PM on January 17

5:15-5:45 I'm on the treadmill, Mr. Getawaysticks is cooking dinner (he exercises on lunch)
5:45-6:45 eat, clean up
7:00-9:00 do some project around the house. I'm presently working in the office scanning shredding, filing. Mr. Getawaysticks just built shelves for the cats, etc. Next we'll hang all the artwork.
9:00-bedtime whatever with laptops and TV shows.

Forcing ourselves to be on our feet doing things for 2 hours is much better for everyone including our house.
posted by getawaysticks at 5:43 PM on January 17

I live alone, no pets, work from home, but I spend every weekend at my partner's so there's kind of a fixed amount of time per week for me to Adult. That compression kind of helps keep me off the couch and doing things.

Work ends at 6 usually. Sometimes later, but not so much these days.
6-7:30 gym
7:30-8 make/eat a dinner. I don't cook so this usually just involves putting something salad-like into a bowl.
8-10:30 whatever the chores of the day are. I vaguely have a list in my head but it moves around
10:30-11 shower and whatever grooming nonsense has to happen
11-?? couch, snacks, TV that I largely ignore in favor of the phone or possibly just couch sleeping.

Going to the gym first really helps, I think, because I come home disgusting and sweaty and then I don't want to sit on my nice couch. Plus then I might as well do all the dirty gross chores before I shower, etc.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:40 PM on January 17

Oh and yeah I also will definitely make a little hand-written list any time I have more than one or two things to accomplish.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:42 PM on January 17

3:30ish: get home from work, wash face (urgh, mask!), get changed into comfy clothes, and craft/read/internet (generally unwind from work)
5ish: make and eat dinner
6ish: tv on the couch with my partner
8ish: read in bed
9ish: my partner reads to me
9:30: fall asleep

I gym early in the morning and generally get to work pretty early too, so I can get away at a reasonable time.
posted by eloeth-starr at 9:48 PM on January 17

I tend towards sloth, hard introvert, WFH, and I have a 9 page to-do list of house projects, plus a garden to start (not covered by the to-do).

I try to skivvy off of work early by doing a house project, and when I'm at a stopping point, jumping back into work for an email scan and writing any emails I needed to think about (evenings my brain works better). At that point it's back to projects if I can force myself/it's early enough, or if I decide 'good enough', I couch.

On the couch I read the internet, books, kindle, depending. If I'm super brain dead it's an audiobook until I'm recovered enough to do something else. Depending on powertools, audiobooks or loud music accompany house projects.

I haven't gotten around to hooking up the TV (lousy LR layout, haven't solved it) so if I'm going to watch something it's going to be on a phone. When I have a TV, I do a hobby at the same time or it's not engrossing enough.

Agree with the person above who said you need a Fri night plan. Mine is I vacuum (I loathe it) and go to the pub for a drink with a very dedicated group of regulars. Not close friends, but they're welcome faces on a Friday, and it means I've had at least one face to face convo in a week.

I have dogs but they're part of the reason the couch sucks me in :)
posted by esoteric things at 10:08 PM on January 17

The key is to do something social every evening. Then you can either go straight to a pub/restaurant after work or poobythe house to pick up bits and pieces or snacks or gear from home before heading out.

So about once a week I'll cook for friend(s), go for an outdoor swim, see a gig or theatre, get drinks, do something outdoors like paraglide, slackline or pétanque. Then on top of that on other days I'll arrange to go to a gallery, host boardgames nights, watch a movie. So most activities will easily keep you busy and occupied from after work till 23:00ish.

Then if I have any free evenings I'll happily spend a few hours at home doing little then go to a drop in evening activity like badminton/tennis/chess/squash/bouldering or do something at home like craft/house projects or more elaborate cooking experimentations. This will allow me to wind down a but earlier and spend some time reading or whatever before bed.
posted by turkeyphant at 11:13 PM on January 17 [1 favorite]

I now have to pick up the baby from daycare which means a 40min walk. I make myself sometimes run errands as well. When I get back, it's baby time and then child time and then finally an hour when I sit and stare at a wall while listening to something. My household and volunteer tasks are done during lunchtime or work breaks or the weekend.

I would not survive without household help. Or frozen food.

I think some people are super energetic and other people are not. I love my couch very very much. When I try to do a lot more, I melt.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 1:10 AM on January 18 [1 favorite]

Also I have to say being around people drains me. When I worked in an office, I needed absolute aloneness for an hour plus on coming home. The people who get energised from social appointments - it does not work for everyone. Being home alone at night makes me way more productive the next day.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 1:12 AM on January 18 [1 favorite]

I work entirely from home, and I'm playing email ping pong all day most days and it's the worst. After work I just want to curl up on my sofa and stare at the TV till it's time for bed. And sometimes, I just do that. But other evenings I'll make plans with friends. Of course this depends on your personality type and many people would rather not socialise to relax but after a long day of dealing with people who stress me out it is really nice to kick back with someone I actually LIKE.

Obviously the pandemic makes this complicated but if meeting up in person isn't possible, I'll make a phone date with someone, and chat to them on the phone while I pootle about the house, cook dinner, tidy up and so on. Another thing I often do is make plans to watch a thing with a friend. Basically we do a Group Watch or Watch Party or whatever the app in question calls it, and text each other while watching a thing. Works better for rewatches of old things than new things where you have to pay attention.
posted by unicorn chaser at 2:24 AM on January 18

I generally have some weekly-ish evening activities that give me something specific to look forward to on certain nights—Monday night therapy sessions, Tuesday night guitar lessons, Thursday night band practice. Sometimes when I have a lot of obligations it’s felt like Too Much but it has also been helpful for life structure during covid.

Evenings might often look something like this:
6-6:30 pm: virtual therapy or guitar lesson
7 pm: make dinner if partner hasn’t already, eat dinner together while watching trashy tv, feed the cat
7:30 pm: watch a bit more TV together on the couch
8:30 pm: wash dishes
8:45 pm: separate for our own evening activities in different parts of the house
I have lots of different hobbies, many of which ebb and flow, and I try to be compassionate to myself about often not touching some of them for months. But whichever interests me at the time, I’ll go and work on this for an hour or two. The key to making this work on weeknights is to get everything teed up on weekends or earlier in the day when I have more energy and mental capacity. So if I want to knit a hat, I’ll print the pattern, wind the yarn, find the right needles, cast on, etc at a time like Saturday morning when I’m not exhausted, so that all that remains on Tuesday night is to jump into the already prepared activity with no friction, do it for a while, put it away.
10:30 pm: get ready for bed, read or play games on my phone, sleep.

Despite not being a morning person, I’ve found it immensely helpful to try and get my exercise in before work because it’s SO hard to make myself do it once I’m drained from work.
posted by music for skeletons at 3:31 AM on January 18

I posted above with my general rules that make my free time slightly less useless but I do want to add: all these "I do X at 7, Y at 7:45" evenings feel like the stuff of fantasy to me! (Not that I'm saying y'all don't do these things, just that it's hard for me to imagine having an evening schedule like that - part of my deal here is that I don't have pets/kids/partner to work around.) I have absolutely no schedule or consistency to my evening routine.

My evening routine is basically "Do something until bedtime. Probably eat at some point." I spend so much of my life just kind of dicking around, especially in the evening.
posted by mskyle at 5:27 AM on January 19

Honestly, a lot of the more complicated stuff happens on the weekends.

But on weeknights sometimes the mere act of cooking something builds a little bit of momentum - I can't go slop on the couch all night after work because I gotta be in the kitchen grating cheese or flipping the omelet or whatever. Even the simplest "dump in a pot and cook until it's done" things, where I usually flumph onto the couch once everything's in the pot, when it's done cooking I still have to stand up again to serve myself. And hey, since I'm up and standing here in the kitchen, lemme empty the dishwasher or sort those spices....(or, "from this angle in the kitchen I can see that book in my bedroom I was meaning to read, lemme go get that...")

I do have the advantage of one of my passion projects being movie reviews, so my weeknight entertainment is very likely to be one of the things I'm meant to watch.

I will add the very VERY big caveat, though, that this started feeling a lot more achievable when I finally got rid of an energy-vampire job. So that may be another thing to consider.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:51 PM on January 19

Honestly? I come home, take a shower, get into PJs, eat the dinner Mr Corpse has made, watch TV with the family for an hour, dink around on the Internet for up to an hour (I have my phone and computer turn themselves off because I don't have good self control), and go to bed. My work days are on the long side and are non-stop talking, so I don't feel bad that my evenings are low-key.

I go to the archery range three days a week, religiously. I do Girl Scouts stuff in minutes I can grab here and there. I've let all other hobbies go, for now, and I haven't seen most of my friends the way I used to. I try to keep in touch with people, at least at a "happy birthday" text level, and schedule the occasional walk or breakfast with important friends.

I work a COVID-related job and my plan is to get back into my secondary hobbies, and hope my friends remember me, when the job ends.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:24 PM on January 21

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