Back-of-the-Fag-Pack Maths on Life and Boredom

By Reader Eoin on at

I write, because since giving up smoking at Christmas, writing has become the thing I do when I want to smoke. I never smoked for the nicotine, I smoked because I needed a minute. I needed time to get my thoughts in order, a time for reflection. A step back from a problem before coming back with a new approach.

It was a way to make myself do nothing else so I could think without thinking. It stopped working quite so well when certain well-known mobile game franchises found their way automagically onto my phone... but it was still effective because I find mobile gaming requires very little thought. I guess that what I was really looking for was a way to completely distract myself and suspend the conscious thought stream for a few minutes, to give my brain a chance to reboot or defrag or something. After all, if something isn't working properly, you should always try switching it off and on again.

Stopping smoking has been beneficial, I find it's a lot easier to continue through the day with a consistent level of energy. I'm drinking a lot less coffee as well because I don't feel like I need a pick-me-up anymore. I feel healthier but I still need to get back to the gym and start training again. I used to be able to run up six flights of stairs without breaking a sweat or even being out of breath. I dread to think what would happen if I tried to get back onto a football pitch or a basketball court. I definitely couldn't last a half of a Rugby League game any more. Overall, it's positive though. I'm static at 70 kilos for the first time in years. If I start training, mix up the diet, get some high protein steaks in there, I'll be sat at 95kg in no time (and it will all be muscle).

Finding the time is what's difficult. I'm never bored when I could go to the gym or go for a run or even use the massive bloody cross-trainer that takes up half my bedroom. It's always when I'm sat somewhere, like I am now. I'm doing a visual survey. Great fun. In 40 minutes, I have made a tally mark. One. Singular. At least I have Wi-Fi and a tablet, a laptop and a smartphone to muck around with. I'm basically invisible right now anyway.

Music is always good when you're bored but right now I can't just chuck some headphones in and listen to some tunes. Fortunately, I listen to music nearly constantly as I drive for roughly five hours a day, five or six days a week. 24,000 miles in six months and 16 days. I could drive from Lands End to John o' Groats over 28 and a half times, in what I've done in that time period. Which would take about 19 days non-stop. So, I've theoretically spent about 10 per cent of my life for the last six and a half months driving. The highest that the national and annual average distance travelled by car has ever been is 7,208 miles. That was in 2005 just as fuel prices were really starting to shoot up. So in a year, I drive about seven times as much as the guy next to me on the motorway. If I cut you off at a roundabout, I'm sorry -- I just want to get out of the bloody car.

Okay, back to the music thing. I listen to a lot of music and just tune it in from memory. I'm not remembering every note, every word or necessarily any of the songs. I'm just feeling the music as it felt to me when I heard it, without even distinguishing individual tracks or groups. Miss Rach, Dewsbury, the rest of you at Team Rock Radio, thank you for launching an amazing radio station just after I started this job. I might have had to murder whoever does the playlists at every other radio station and the people who do voice-overs for their adverts as well. You have literally saved lives by existing and doing what you're doing. Say thank-you to the nice people at TRR, all you people still breathing.

Let's go back to the time thing. If I spend 10 per cent of my life driving (since about May 2013) and I sleep for about six hours a day? That's 25 per cent. I'm working for a portion of each day five days a week but most of the driving is incorporated into that. Let's say roughly 30 per cent altogether. 45 per cent left. Housework, well, I don't do as much of that as I probably should but I do run around driving to shops or to pick up things and drop stuff off a lot because my girlfriend doesn't drive. So let's call that 10 per cent, I'd say two hours and 24 minutes' average per day covers it. 35 per cent left. I occasionally catch up with friends and stuff so social things would be about 5 per cent. An hour and 12 minutes' average per day. Maybe a bit more. Weekends and stuff. Call it 8 per cent.

27 per cent left now -- just over a quarter. Getting up and getting ready and going to bed, putting my daughter to bed. An hour and a half per day? Call it two hours. Another 8 per cent. Down to just 19 per cent now. I obviously spend time with my girlfriend and I'd say I spend about 5 per cent of my time with her where we aren't doing things that fit into the other categories. 14 per cent. I have 14 per cent of my time where I am doing stuff by myself. 14 per cent of my time to catch up on interesting articles, write, think, reflect on my achievements and etc etc. 204 minutes per day. I swear it feels like less.

I think I've discovered why I rarely find time to fit more stuff in. I only have 204 minutes. Frankly, I've seen fewer people recently than I would have previously so the average would have been more like 90 minutes per day. I'm happy to admit that I'm an introvert and I'm looking at this wondering if this is the reason I sometimes feel so stressed. Perhaps it's the reason I no longer seem to be motivated to make time to go to the gym. Is this boredom that I'm feeling now good or bad? This all seems rather depressing so my first reaction would be that it is bad. In reality I suspect that it might be a good thing, however.

Boredom-thinking complete. Now for another 2 and a half hours of this...

Eoin is a regional trainer for a well-known PC brand, and writes a small blog at EBPK.wordpress.com, where he's about to start self-publishing a serial novel.

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