Things to Do When You’re Bored and Want to Spend Money

September 8, 2009 at 3:13 am | Posted in Dealing with Depression, Finances, Goal Progress | 1 Comment

Boredom can strike even the caffeinated.

Boredom can strike even the caffeinated.

For me, money is the great Boredom-Slayer. When I’m lolling around the house, reluctant to do something constructive but not tired enough to take a nap, I typically go somewhere and spend some money. It might be to the bead store to get equipment for a project, or my favorite nursery to buy a pot nice pot for a recently purchased plant. Whatever. When it comes to amusing myself late on a holiday Monday, I see my Old Stuff with a jaded eye and long for New Stuff.

Buying Stuff for fun is an expensive hobby, and it makes me angry at myself when I’m trying to save money and pay down debt, as I am now. Yesterday afternoon I was just seething with the desire to shop, but I’d promised myself that I’d go another week without buying anything unnecessary, and I couldn’t stand the idea of failing on the first day.

So Labor Day found me drifting around the house, taking little naps and procrastinating about what was, admittedly, a series of dull tasks on my to do list. I haven’t done these things by the end of a long weekend because they’re, um, boring. I cleaned my desk, which was buried under a layer paper gray like crusty old snow. In the end, in desperation, I sat down and made the following list of, yes, Things to Do When You’re Bored and Want to Spend Money:

1. Pick a recipe, get the ingredients, and cook something from scratch.
2. Clean the cat box and do a load of laundry.
3. Tidy up 27 items (shoes and books lying around, receipts that have drifted under the bed, and the like).
4. Call someone and let them amuse you.
5. Look at your to do list and do the following:
A. Choose one thing you don’t want to do, like giving yourself a pedicure.
B. Write down why you don’t want to do it. For this example, we’ll say that it seems like a lot of trouble and the polish will just chip off anyway, reminding me that life is full of the horrors of entropy.
C. If it’s a concrete problem (like not having the right materials out), then solve it; if the problem is your attitude, either decide that, indeed, doing your toenails is an exercise in futility and strike it off your list, or remember why you wanted to do it in the first place (I always feel proud and pretty when my toenails shine like sequins).
D. If you’re still feeling indecisive (Entropy or beauty? Entropy or beauty?), make an excruciatingly detailed list of steps, then do the first one. Remember, if it’s intolerably unpleasant, you can quit at any time.
6. Read a randomly chosen book for 15 minutes.
7. Read what looks like the dullest book on your bookshelf for 15 minutes.
8. Look over all of your bookshelves, pick out anything that you know damn well you won’t read, and take them to a used bookstore. J.D. says somewhere in his excellent personal finance blog Get Rich Slowly that unused media (books, CDs, video games, and the like) often represent a self that you once were and want to hold on to (in my case, college professor), or a self that you fantasize about being (college professor who reads Latin). If this self doesn’t represent what you truly want in rour conscious, right mind, get rid of the damn clutter already. If you’re uncertain about it, box it up and sell anything you haven’t rooted up and used a year later.
9. Pick up a book that looks sorta engaging and read the first paragraph to see if it sucks you in.
10. If you don’t have any books on hand, find the website for your local library, search on a few topics of interest, and order a few. If it’s open, you could even go there physically.
11. Pray. Structured prayer like the liturgy of the hours or a rosary is excellent for times of low inspiration. Or pray for guidance about what to do.
12. If you have an RSS feed, read the first three items in your feed, no matter how dull they look. (In my case, blurbs about scandals about drugs I’ve never taken and will never take. [Levitra, anyone?])
13. Check out something you’ve bookmarked on your computer and never actually used, such as a debt calculator or an intriguing ebook.
14. Start a project so ambitious that you clearly won’t be able to finish it today, and will have to leave the materials out, cluttering your counter space. This is to counteract your mind’s argument that you would do something, if only it weren’t all so darned overwhelming.
15. What is the most boring, icky task you can think of. Go do it. Yes, polish that cat box! It’s more interesting than staring at the wall.

There you have it.

Why is she telling us this, you may ask. This is supposed to be a blog on bipolar disorder. As I’ve pointed out ad nauseum, bipolar folk tend to have poor impulse control (that lack of executive function, dontcha know), and to play ducks and drakes with whatever money they can scrounge up. This is character-building stuff, and it may ward off a depression triggered by tedium. It will also keep yourself from asking the existential question, if I dislike work and long for the weekends, why is it that I can never amuse myself on the last day of any given weekend? Do I dislike my life outside of work, too? Do not ask this question. It will only need to progressively darker ruminations.

For the record, I did scoop the cat box, do laundry, read 15 minutes of a book for this blog (more on that later), get the ingredients for a recipe, and pick out an armload of books to sell.

Love and productivity to all.

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1 Comment »

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  1. I really enjoyed this! And am now thinking I’m bipolar! Ha. But thanks for posting this. Look, I’ve found something to do that is not effecting my wallet!


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