This past week I wasn’t able to attend my local bowling league at my college’s rec center. It’s mid-semester exam week for my master’s program and I had several papers, projects and presentations that needed just about all of my attention. I look forward to bowling every week, but this time, I knew that I shouldn’t try to squeeze it in when I had so much going on.
Boy, what a bad decision!
Why, you ask? Because it would have been good for me to bowl, and I didn’t actually end up getting anything better done during that time. On Monday evening, league night, I stayed home and tried cranking out my work, but I found myself rather distracted as I tried to guess how my teammates were doing and lamented the fact that I wasn’t out there with them.
When the clock passed 11pm, the time I would have been back from league, I suddenly realized I’d been procrastinating on my studies, and would need to stay up pretty late to make up for it. Working hard early in the evening, taking a break to go bowl, and then resuming studying afterward would have put me in the exact same situation work-wise, but there would have been some important differences.
The physical exertion of bowling makes it a great stress reliever and can really energize you if you have been staring at a book or computer screen for several hours beforehand. I’m sure I would have been much more productive later on that night if I had gone to league. Instead, I got even less done because I was starting to feel bad about my decision.
The exact same thing happened to me when I was playing soccer during undergrad; I always feared that I would not be able to get my homework done while going to practice every afternoon during the fall season. But in fact, I got much more work done than in the Spring when I had no such commitment. Having a concrete event on your calendar really does wonders to get you to focus, and if it is a physical activity, like bowling, it can make you much better off.
Moral of the story: I’m never skipping league again! I don’t even have to remind myself that I already paid for each session I miss…