A common excuse we hear why people aren’t doing the things they really want to is that they don’t have enough time.
This excuse of not having enough time has become a story we constantly tell ourselves which results in:
- Poor planning and productivity.
- Our health, relationships and work suffering.
- Lack of ambition or drive.
- Lower levels of motivation, self-confidence and self-esteem.
- Disconnection from our dreams.
The truth is we all have the same amount of time each day. How we use our time determines the quality of our daily experiences.
If we’re honest with ourselves, we all can find time daily for things that matter most to us.
Consider this scenario: say you have 30 minutes to spare because you’re between tasks or appointments, or you have nothing planned — how can you make better use of that time?
Recently, as I was reviewing what I had been doing in recent months and how I was using my time, I noticed two things I needed to improve.
First, I was spending more time than necessary on different social media platforms and consuming digital information. Second, I was not reading physical books as much as I used to.
I reduced how much digital information I was consuming by at least an hour a day. While an hour may sound like a lot of time, if we stop and think of how many times we touch our digital devices daily and the time that uses up, we’ll be quite shocked. Spending a couple of minutes, twice an hour, on our devices adds up to a significant amount of time each day.
The hour I am saving consuming less digital content is now being spent reading physical books, so I am keeping up with the books I want to read because I have a goal of reading at least two books every month.
10 Ways to Make Better Use of Your Free Time
- Do something that’s beneficial to your health. This may include going for a brisk walk or a run, doing stretches or other forms of exercise like yoga, or meditating. Anything we can do for our overall health will show up in everything we do.
- Review your goals. Goals require focus and commitment and sometimes we have to make adjustments to stay on track. Reviewing our goals is how we will know whether what we’re doing is working or not.
- Make changes to your environments. Improving our environments can be as simple as cleaning out our workspace or adding something that will inspire us to do what’s required to achieve the outcomes we want. This can also include filing things away and cleaning out our digital inbox.
- Read something relevant to an outcome you want. We have to be careful not to get caught in information that’s not relevant to us because there is so much of it available now. We can use our free time to get new ideas for a project or a goal we want to achieve. We can also use that time to catch up on our reading.
- Mind map or outline a project or goal. This is helpful for those who process information better visually. Using a technique like mind mapping can help consolidate large amounts of information into smaller chunks.
- Speak to someone you’ve been meaning to. We often say we’ll “get around” to do something like catching up with someone or asking for assistance. A quick phone call can move forward something we’re working on a lot quicker than trying to struggle through it ourselves. This time can also be used to follow-up with people or just calling someone to say hello.
- Send someone a “Thank You” note or email. We can never give out enough appreciation but sometimes we don’t make time for it. If we have half an hour to spare, we can send handwritten messages or emails, or give someone, like a team member, a praise or compliment.
- Prepare for your next activity. One thing I have learned is the most successful people are well-prepared. They give themselves additional time to do things with excellence, which becomes the standard they set for themselves. Preparation is one key to success in anything we do.
- Capture your thoughts and feelings. Being able to reflect is a powerful skill to develop because it gives us the opportunity to learn from our experiences and use them to be better in life. One way to capture our thoughts and feelings is to have a regular journaling practice.
- Give your eyes a rest. Instead of doing all the time, it’s okay to just be. Sometimes giving ourselves a break from the constant visual stimulation we’re exposed can be beneficial. Taking a short nap or meditating can also be useful things to do, if appropriate.
There are always things we can do to be smarter with our time so we can get more important things done. While there will be things that will knock us off track, we always have the choice to refocus our attention to what matters most. The better we use our time, the better our lives will be.
Action Step: Create your own list of things you can do so that whenever you have free time, you can refer to that list and do things that will be beneficial to you and those in your life.
Question: What are others things we can do to make better use of our free time?