6 benefits of organising your free time
If you’re reading this and thinking to yourself, “what free time??!”, then welcome to my world.
Being time poor is one of the biggest complaints we all have in modern society – most of us are desperately juggling work and home commitments, running just to keep up and stay on top of our daily chores and responsibilities. If you’re a lawyer, you’ll know exactly what I mean. The long hours culture still pervades most corporate law firms and with it the expectation that employees should always be available. No time is sacred, not even your weekends.
Given all this then – what’s the point of thinking about what to do with your free time when you rarely have any that doesn’t involve collapsing on the sofa in an exhausted heap at the end of the day?
But it’s exactly because your free time is so scarce that you need to get more organised about it.
We can’t necessarily control the amount of free time we have – unless we’ve won the lottery, a lot of our time needs to be dedicated to work. That’s just a fact. But what we can do is control what we do with the free time that we have.
The Stoic philosopher Seneca wisely said:
“It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested.”
This strikes me as a brilliant philosophy to live by. There in fact is enough time in our lives if we learn how to use it well. We need to start treating our time as a precious commodity and to be more conscious, deliberate and decisive about what we do with it. Tempting though it may be to stay there, we need to peel ourselves off our sofas, and start organising our free time.
Here are 6 compelling reasons why:
Planning makes you happy.
It’s official – happiness comes from the organising and anticipation of an event more than the event itself. A study by Dutch researchers published in the journal of Applied Research in Quality of Life in 2010 found that people who went on holiday were happiest in the two months preceding the event rather than during it or after. The conclusion to draw from this is that we are happiest when we anticipate and organise doing something we enjoy. Planning to do something fun ahead of time allows you to start feeling happier long before the time arrives.
You’ll realise you have more free time than you think.
A lot of people aren’t really sure about how much free time they have, apart from having a general feeling that they’re stretched in lots of directions and never have enough. But you can’t organise your free time unless you know exactly how much you have to play with. Think about your days and your chores and commitments (not forgetting sleep, of course) and calculate how much time is left over. Based on the results some of my clients have had, my bet is you have much more time than you think.
You’ll ‘take back control’ of your life.
Since the advent of smart phones 12 years ago, our culture has become increasingly attention-sapping. There’s no denying the many benefits that mobile technology has brought us, but the way it has been designed to keep us scrolling and clicking, and more ‘connected’ to the demands of work and other people, means that our free time has been ‘virtually’ hijacked. Don’t you hate that feeling of looking at the time and being shocked at how many hours have gone by?Deliberately organising your free time is an antidote to this. It’s a way of staying in control of how you use technology because it encourages you to set boundaries for when you will and won’t be online, and to balance the amount of time you dedicate to your devices versus the time you dedicate to the ones you love. You can plan to be in control of your device rather than the other way round!
Your life will be more fulfilling.
Planning your free time means making a conscious decision about what to do with that time. That means deciding whether or not to spend time pursuing your goals or doing something you enjoy, or whether to squander it on activities that bring you little happiness or are non-productive (Social Media, I’m looking at you) or even doing nothing. Given a choice between squandering your time, doing nothing, or investing it on things you find fulfilling and the people you care about most, wouldn’t you choose the latter?
It will have a positive impact on your work.
One of the main purposes of free time is to give you a break from work. It is supposed to rejuvenate and refresh you so you’re energised and ready to go again. Free time that has been spent in pursuit of the things that you are passionate about does this. You know you have had a weekend well-spent when you return to work rested and invigorated rather than tired and demotivated on a Monday morning.
“Tomorrow is promised to no man”.
We have a finite time on this earth. Life comes with no guarantees. So we need to make that time count. Work hard, live well and do the things that bring you joy. Organising your free time is just one step on the journey towards a balanced and fulfilling life.
So there’s the theory, what about the practice?
For tips on how to go about better organising your free time, tune in to this week’s podcast: