There are 24 hours in a day but it's understandable if you feel these are barely enough! You might be wondering what life could have looked like if we had more time to ourselves? And perhaps when you finally you do get the free time, it still doesn’t feel like a free time - it's all too easy to let worries crowd in. Relax and read on: you're in the right place.
This article gives you tips for how to maximize your free time. We'll also take a look at why it's important to maximize your time and also the advantages of maximizing your time. This will pay dividends both today and in the future.
Why should you maximize free time?
Maximizing your free time helps you put things in better perspective. Many people struggle with time management and are always caught trying to finish or round up things they could have done conveniently had they maximized their time. Don't worry - this happens to everybody at some point. We'll go over some practical tips in just a minute.
There are plenty of advantages to be derived when you successfully maximize your time and they include:
- Reduce your stress levels by dealing with things in the appropriate order
- Increase your productivity by making the best use of your time
- Boost your confidence by feeling more in control of your life, instead of being constantly in reactive mode
- When you maximize your time, you feel like you've had a window of time to relax, no matter how busy you are
Practical tips for how to maximize your time
People mistakenly think that only work time needs to be maximized; the fact is that your free time needs to be maximized as much as your work hours! Without successfully planning on how you can get the best out of your free time, it'll becomes another regular day: 24 hours wouldn’t be enough.
Here are a few tips that would help you get the best possible out of your free time. After implementing these, it will actually feel like you've found a way to get more free time!
The truth is that the same amount of time arranged better can really feel like extra free time.
Have a loose plan for things to do in your free time
The absence of a rough plan would make your free time seem like every other day. Nothing can be as annoying as having a free day and still not getting things done! You can plan mentally ahead on how you want your free time to go and even if you are not putting pen to paper to actually jot down the things you intend to do, at least start by having an idea.
Jot down ideas on your phone's memo app if needed; then you'll have a "wish list" of things to do for whenever you do manage to get some free time.
It's important to keep the plan loose. Don't have a rigid and unyielding plan for your free time that involves... no actual free time! Some of the time should be kept unstructured to allow for relaxation, daydreaming, journaling, or just spur of the moment ideas.
Set boundaries with other people - don't be afraid to say no
If you've been quick to say yes to helping others in the past, it's time to slow down on that a bit. Say no nicely if you're asked to help out people with things that aren't your responsibility. Your responsibilities are your work or school, and your kids and spouse (if you have this). It's good to help a friend once in a while, but friendship should be a 2 way street. If you have a needy friend that's often asking for help, just say no nicely.
You deserve free time too! Saying no can be hard, but you need to be a good friend to yourself before you can be a good friend to others. Some phrases you can use to say no nicely are: "I'm so sorry, but I already have plans that evening." (Yes, even if your plans are to curl up with a good book or watch a TV show to unwind). Another option is "Sorry, I just can't do it - my hands are already full." This lets them know that you can't do it, and (equally importantly) that you are already overwhelmed. If someone just doesn't get the message, be more forceful "Sorry, I just cannot do it - that just won't work for me." If you're not an assertive type, it will really make it easier on you if you practice those sentences out loud in front of a mirror.
If you feel like you have no free time, or you're simply not having enough free time, then for the sake of your own mental health putting boundaries in place will make a huge difference. It's also a kindness to others to send them the message that they can't treat you as a doormat or take you for granted. Your time is just as valuable as anyone else's.
How to spend free time well
Prior to your free time, try as much as possible to declutter your living space. This means you can actually relax when you get your free time, without worrying about how much work you left behind.
Understand the value of unstructured free time. You can make free time feel longer if you use at least some of it in an unstructured way, for example daydreaming or just relaxing and doing nothing. You won't want your entire free time to be spend that way, but doing some amount of relaxing or daydreaming will will give your mind the refreshment it needs. If you instead spend every minute finding constant entertainment, time will pass too quickly and your mind won't get the break it needs.
Of course, you'll also want to ensure you have some constructive things to do with your free time. If you don't, then these things (for example errands and other life admin) will pile up over time and seem overwhelming to you later. Aim to do one or more of your to-do's that you identified when you were making a loose plan.
Be kind to yourself: estimate generously for how long things will take in your free time. For example, if you plan to do 2 errands and then go out to coffee with a friend, be realistic as to how long each will take. Otherwise you'll feel like you're rushing from one thing to another and it won't feel like you've had any free time at all! Use breaks between activities to rest, daydream and recharge.
Spending free time well is therefore a mix of unstructured time and of knocking out an item or two off your life admin to-do's.
Nothing can be compared to having some alone time to pamper yourself. Those who do it have 24 hours just like you! You can take these easy steps to help yourself to the free time you surely deserve, while still being productive.