Picture by Randy Son Of Robert
Most of yearn for free time. Time to lean back, relax and do absolutely nothing. Sounds like paradise right? Well . . .maybe.
The thing is that when we have lots of free time, say like a vacation, we often do less with our time. Sometimes this is a good thing. If you have a very busy work or home life, you may need every minute of free time you can get.
Too much free time can be a motivation killer. Think about it. Let’s say you are laid off from work and you have all day to yourself. You believe you will be super-productive – no stressful boss looking over your shoulder, plenty of time to get things done, etc. But the truth is, too much free time can lead itself to procrastination.
This is what happens to me. When I am left without a schedule or daily plan, I tend to accomplish much less than I do during a regular work week. I get the essentials done, but I overestimate the amount of time I have. So I put off easy tasks for tomorrow instead of getting them done today.
One reason free time is so easy to misuse, is that it seems endless. Many times weekends are like this. Sometimes we are constantly structured in our daily routine; get up and ready for work, work for 8 hours, come home, eat dinner and clean, then go to bed. The weekend is then like a free-for-all. Wake up whenever, have a leisurely breakfast, do a little shopping, and bam – it’s 9:00 p.m. already.
Another key to using free time is to plan for it. Recently I have been out of work. Instead of using my time to go to the amusement park, visit the ice cream parlor or go tubing down the river, I found myself struggling to get my daily chores done. I would have much rather spent at least ½ my time doing those things I enjoy – that’s why I want time off in the first place. But because I didn’t schedule my day, I lost more time to unexpected diversions – say a TV show, 2 hours cruising the Internet, or an unintended nap. Making my time at home sadly unproductive.
If you’re a well organized, highly productive person who has no problem with these things – please kindly ignore this advice. If however, like me, you find yourself floundering in a sea of time with no clear plan of action, feeling strangely unmotivated and bored, take heed. Try a few of these simple solutions to put your free time to use.
- Make a list of the top 10 or 20 things you need to get done this week. Break them down into a daily list and try to spend the first part of your day on that. Leave your afternoons free for fun.
- Check in with others. When you lose ambition or direction, call a friend for help. Someone doing multiple tasks each day is much more likely to help you be efficient with your time. Use their assistance wisely.
- Do the fun things first. Do those things you really want to first. They will energize and inspire you, and if you take Monday and Tuesday to play at the beach, the rest of the week will seem much easier. (If you like rewarding yourself, you can reverse this and give yourself a bonus AFTER you’ve done the job interviews.)
- Start. This is one of my biggest problems. I see a project as too big and feel overwhelmed, so I just don’t do anything. Don’t get sucked into this pit. If you do something, anything, it is better than nothing. Small things add up. Update your resume today, and apply for a job tomorrow. Do something now.
- Challenge yourself. Race to see if you can wash all the dishes before the next TV show. Bet yourself you can do 5 chores before 10 a.m., then go watch a movie you’ve been waiting to see. Make it a game, have fun, and enjoy the process. It’ll make it much easier for you to keep going.