Do you remember the time when the stars aligned and you had a pocket of time all to yourself?
While I cleaned up dinner last Sunday, hubby had his fantasy football draft and the kids decided to go to the gym instead of hanging out with me.
My Sundays are spent planning out my week, doing housework, and hanging out with my family. I was sad at first that the kiddos didn’t want to hang with me but I have a teenager and preteen so I shouldn’t be too surprised.
One of my favorite indulgences is to take a bath. Since it was the end of the day, I quickly filled the tub and grabbed a book. I’m currently reading Ditching the Dream by my friend Bethany Clemson.
I emerged from the tub feeling better than ever. Were there loads of housework that still needed to be done? Was I tempted to mindlessly scroll through videos of how other people clean their homes? Yes to both!
I chose the bath with clarity and purpose because I knew the gift of this hour alone wasn’t something that happens often. Today I want to explore you you can use the downtime you have in a way to better serve you. Also, challenge your assumption that you don’t have the time.
The way you spend your free time reveals a lot about you.
At the end of your life, do you want to regret not doing something? I doubt you will wish you spent more time on Instagram.
The Cambridge dictionary defines free time as “time when you do not have to work, study, etc. and can do what you want:”
This is a pretty vague definition. Let me draw attention to the words “you do not have to” and “etc.”
I agree with the last part of the definition. The term "free time" refers to the time during which we can do whatever we want. Think about that idea for a moment. How often can we really do what we want? While time is a choice, being a responsible human means never ignoring your obligations or values.
So after we’ve taken the time to fill all of our roles and obligations, and taken care of our health, that is the sweet spot where you will find free time.
We all need time to recharge but what else do you want to do?
Let me introduce you to the roadmap to life concept. This is a tool I've discussed on my blog in the past. This is an exercise I do for myself. I also teach it to my clients.
In the exercise, you create a map of where you want to be headed with your life. It examines all aspects of it. This includes your hobbies as well as how you want to, for instance, travel the world or climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Maybe you want to start a book club, who knows, there's room for anything. There's also space for pouring into your different roles.
There is a great analogy for this in Laura Vanderkamp's TED talk. Let me try to explain. As we approach the holidays, many people like to send out family letters to everyone, recapping the year. I suggest instead of doing that, you write a letter outlining what you want to be done by the end of the year. I want to hike Kilimanjaro, I want to start a neighborhood Bunco group, whatever it is that you would be proud of, and then use your free time to accomplish those goals.
The first step is to create those year-end goals. But how do we stay connected to those goals? I check in quarterly and even more importantly, I do a weekly review. Every Sunday, I spend a little time planning my week. I make sure that I'm setting time aside in my calendar for action toward those big goals that I set for the quarter and year.
A good example would be that today is my birthday. After I shoot this video, I'll go for lunch with a friend. I'll come home, finish my work day and then I have a dead stop at three o'clock. So that I can pick up my kids and then go out to dinner with my family in the afternoon. Make sure that you have time to spend your free time the way you want to be spending it.
Stop saying, “I don't have the time.” The reality is we all have 24 hours a day. When you say I don't have the time that means it's not a priority.
If you don't want to start that book club this year, that's okay. But if you truly want to start that book club, do it. Make time in your schedule. Think about who you want to connect with. Think about what kind of books you want to read, sit down, and put an email list together. Those are the kinds of things you need to be doing with your free time because a book club isn't going to come and knock on your door.
It's time to start thinking about tracking what you do for a week. Time tracking will show how you spend your hours. The truth of where those hours are going.
Time is elastic. It will expand to fill whatever bucket you give it. If you have an hour in the evenings where everything's done for the day and you still have enough energy to do something, wouldn't you rather that something be what you aspire to do rather than whittling it away on social media?
You don't have to chose between your personal and professional life. Here's my secret weapon for getting the family chaos to calm.
I can't let you leave empty handed. Here's my secret weapon for getting the family chaos to calm.