Metacognition: Balance

Welcome back to Metacognition! Join us for some deep thoughts (and maybe the occasional not-so-deep thought) about gaming, and catch up on all the previous deep discussions here. If you find one you’d like to answer, you can either comment below or write a post and share the link so we can all read your fantastic thoughts!


How do you balance gaming with other responsibilities?

Very carefully seems like the obvious but also most annoying answer.

Honestly, like so much else in my life, I schedule gaming. I’ve mentioned in other posts that I don’t have a significant other or children, but I manage to fill my time with other things. I work, like all of us, and I also maintain this site, have undertaken a rather ambitious Year of the RPG, am the commodore of my sailing club (which makes me sound much more pretentious than the club really deserves haha). I write fiction/fanfiction for fun, have a pretty extensive “to read” pile I’m slowly making my way through, give professional presentations in my field, and maintain a general adult life of, you know, doing all the random other things that don’t make lists like these.

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I have a schedule, and I try very hard to stick to it pretty rigorously. Sometimes I’m not as successful as I’d like to be, but I set aside time to write, I set aside time to game, I set aside time to look into things for my club, and so on and so forth.

While it seems ridiculous to “schedule fun,” there is some benefit to this. First of all, when one protects time for leisure activities (or any activity), they definitely happen. I’m sure many (if not all) of us have, at one point or another, sacrificed a leisure activity because we had something else to do. And again. And again. It wasn’t “important enough” to stay on our day’s schedule.

Now, I’m not advocating for leisure to take the place of responsibilities, but one of the most important things a person can do to maintain a healthy level of stress (compared to the unhealthy “freaking out” levels of stress) is to have a good balance between responsibilities and fun.

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You may have heard the term “self-care.” It’s just what it sounds like: making sure that, in addition to all the things we have to do to maintain our lives and our family’s lives (as applicable), we take time to refill our emotional fuel tanks with something fun, even if it’s only for a few minutes. It’s this type of fuel that keeps us able to function, like gasoline in a car.

With it so easy to dismiss leisure activities, and then suffer the negative effects as we don’t give ourselves time or permission to relax with something enjoyable, the way to keep balanced – you guessed it – is to schedule the fun activity in, and then stick to that schedule as much as possible.

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I suppose, however, that I should have posted this at the end of the year, to see how successful my scheduling was for playing eight RPGs

What about you? How do you achieve work/family/game balance? Or do you find your life has a more natural flow to it that I have yet to achieve? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll see you soon!
~ Athena

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19 thoughts on “Metacognition: Balance

  1. This has been a big conversation in my household as of late, as on a plus side, my husband’s also a gamer so we can play games together for leisure times, but I also used to play and game a lot more and started dropping the ball on other responsibilities.

    I’ve come a long way since, but it took some scheduling- I have a designated night that I game with friends at this point- and I tend to game when I’m winding down or alternating with responsibilities, helping make tasks easier and leisure time more precious.

    It’s good to see other perspectives on this!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m so glad you liked the article and the perspective. It sounds like you’ve worked something out, as well, which is great. it can certainly be difficult to balance, especially since games can be so alluring and fulfill many needs our brains have, so I’m especially glad you’ve found a system that works for you to keep enjoying games and also keep up with responsibilities.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sailing, eh? What an unexpected yet cool hobby! It’s so fascinating to read posts like this and see what other hobbies us game bloggers are in to. Or even just everyone’s careers. It really shows how games bring folks of all different walks of life together.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve been thinking about this recently as well. I feel like it’s easy for me to slip into a state where I can actually spend too much time gaming, as I work independently, with no oversight but my inner guilt and my wife.

    When it happens, I become absolutely useless and have to basically drag my brain out of this state by force. I think now that I’ve recognised this pattern, though, it almost never happens as I stop myself in advance.

    As per the balance – it’s always been fairly easy for me, probably due a combo of my upbringing/background/work, to make sure I have time not just for work but also for family and hobbies. I consciously strive to have this balance rather than EXCEL at my work. I do fine but I’m not interested in it denting my home life.

    Now that I am actually writing about games though my wife is more supportive and I don’t feel as guilty playing when I can hang out with her instead, making scheduling work much better.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Things are certainly easier when you have support from your family, too! I definitely understand the guilt of paying games when there is “anything else” that I can be doing, or “anyone else” I could be spending time with who aren’t make-believe characters. I’m so glad to hear that’s worked out for you!!

      I like the idea of using Excel sheet; there’s another person who commented on the draw of games and how they were pulled away from other responsibilities until they caught it and pulled themselves back onto a sustainable track. I’m glad you were able to do that, as well!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I’m proud to say I’m a single outcast with very little social life, so other than work and sleep, my time is my own. I have no idea where all my free time goes though. By the time I do my workouts and read blogs, it’s my pass out time, haha. I try to do long gaming sessions on weekends. I really need to find more time for writing too. Perhaps that scheduling thing could work for me… 🤔

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It is. Especially if you want to keep on enjoying an activity or hobby, but without feeling like you have to do/try/read/play everything right now. I suppose it is some kind of fear of missing out?

        And thank you, that is really kind of you! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. As a working parent, I think about this all the time. Firstly, I play as much as I can on the go. The Vita and 3DS are my lifeline for this (mainly 3DS as the Vita is too big for my pockets). At home, I don’t turn on the PS4 until my wife and baby are asleep in the other room. Immersing myself into a game is kind of like slipping into a hot bath… It’s my reward for fulfilling all my work and parenting responsibilities 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s a good way of balancing things, for sure! I never really got into mobile gaming, but I can definitely see it’s allure for the familyman/family person on the go! I do like your idea of games like a hot bath: a totally immersive experience that can cleanse away the stress of the day.

      Like

  6. Yeah, I’m big on scheduling game time, as well. I, too, work in one of those fields where burnout’s a constant risk, and everyone’s big on self-care and stress management as a means to make sure both the employees are able to continue doing a good job and making sure that the work-life balance doesn’t end up steamrolling anyone, so game time is really important. But I’m a big adult with all sort of big adult responsibilities and hobbies, so I have to make sure gaming gets its own protected time or it’s not going to happen.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I hear you. All those big, grown-up adult responsibilities are so pesky about needing to get done.

      it’s nice that your job recognized the importance of self-care and having a good work-life balance. So many places don’t and that creates a lot of additional stress for workers who might feel pressured to take work home or work longer hours that cut into their home time.

      Leisure time/game time absolutely need to be protected!

      Liked by 1 person

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