Do you wish you had more free time in a day? I know I do, and so do a lot of my clients. As busy creatives, having extra time to work on passion projects and explore new ideas is important to our happiness.
A paper published in 2019 on the effects of leisure time on overall life satisfaction found that Americans’ satisfaction peaked at two and a half hours of free time a day for those employed, and four hours and 45 minutes for those who didn’t work.
How does your amount of daily free time stack up?
If you want to gain more free time but your schedule is jam-packed, I have 5 ways you can create necessary breaks in your day and more space for both relaxation and motivation.
The Benefits of Taking A Break
When you’re super busy, taking a break may seem like the last thing you should do, but it can actually help you be more productive. It’s a chance to get a new perspective on your work and help you more objectively evaluate your progress.
Sometimes, you just need to step away to see the whole picture clearly. It’s hard to tell how you feel about your work when you’re stuck in the middle of it.
Free time also replenishes your energy and motivation. Science is opening up to the idea that willpower and self control are like muscles that need both exercise and rest to help you consistently make good decisions.
And let’s not forget how important free time is for our social life! Building strong relationships with our family and friends is a key component to happiness and good mental health.
How To Ensure You Have Free Time
A lesson my coach once shared with me was “No one is going to give you the time. You have to make it.” So if you want more free time in your busy schedule, it’s ultimately up to you to create the space. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
1) Schedule Your Downtime.
Regardless of whether you’re trying to fit in a date night, family outing, gym session or a class–you have to block the time off. Write it in pen on your calendar, set up the event in your phone or whatever method you use to track your time. Just be sure to schedule your free time ahead of time!
It will feel more official when you see it in black and white in front of you, AND you’ll be able to make other plans without overbooking yourself or infringing on your designated free time.
2) Identify Your Time Wasters.
We all waste time; it’s just a fact of life. But what if you could turn those lost minutes into blissful break time? You can! But first, you need to recognize those situations that keep throwing you off course. Perhaps it’s a chatty co-worker, your boss always asking you to work late, or doom scrolling on social media.
3) Establish Clear Boundaries.
Once you know what those time-wasters are, it’s time to focus on saying no more. I know that you won’t always be able to turn down requests, especially when it’s about a job, but remember that all that extra time has to come from somewhere. If you can’t say no, set clear expectations around how much time you can spend.
And as you practice honoring your time boundaries, it will get easier to do!
Check out how setting boundaries can also help prevent burnout.
What non-work tasks can you hand off to someone else to create more free time for yourself? If you can afford it, outsourcing activities like laundry, cleaning and grocery shopping can give you back at least a couple of hours a week to spend on yourself.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your co-workers, friends or family either.
5) Limit distractions.
We’ve all been in a tedious, long meeting that could have been covered in a simple email. And I’m sure you’re no stranger to the last-minute email that you feel obligated to answer that sucks up an extra thirty minutes of your day.
If it’s possible, try to limit the number of meetings you have in a week, or at least space them out in a way that gives you time to recover and refocus afterwards.
Create a schedule for when you’ll check and answer your email, so that you’re not reacting to every “crisis” as it develops and sacrificing your own free time to do so.
How do you gain extra free time in your busy schedule? Do you spend your downtime watching TV, reading a good book, or getting out of the house? Let me know your favorite ways to spend your free time, by posting in the comments below or in the Badass Beauty Club on Facebook.
LOVE + oodles of time off!