9:00 p.m. is a special time of the day for me. It’s by then that my entire family has trundled off to bed, leaving me in silence and with complete freedom for the next three hours (or less, or more, depending on how tired I am).
Don’t get me wrong — I love my family. I adore spending time with them. When they’re awake and home, you’re much more likely to find me on the floor playing with my kids or sitting with my wife and talking about the day. But I still need my alone time, even though it’s gone from seven or so hours when I was a bachelor to three now.
Typically, this is when I game, although not always. I used to be a lot more rigid with my schedule in forcing myself to play MMOs even when I wasn’t in the mood — just to get my money’s worth, to continue to progress, to not fall behind my friends. Now, I play until it’s not fun, and then I set it aside.
Sometimes it’s a very social gaming period, sometimes I’m off by myself doing my own thing. Occasionally I’ll try a new MMO or single-player game (like Civ V as of late).
But the cool thing is that I don’t feel beholden to gaming and nothing but during these hours. A lot of time all I do is write and catch up on my blog reading. Sometimes I’ll head to bed early and unwind with a book, a TV show or a game on my iPhone. It changes from day to day, but the overriding rule is that I do whatever feels least stressful and most enjoyable during the last waking moments of my day.
It really does help.