Wait, isn’t that the wrong way to do it? Do you really need to schedule free time? Shouldn’t you be scheduling your work instead of your free time? Well yeah, that’s what most people do. It’s probably why 43% of Americans don’t really use up their vacation days. Who can take days off when you’re packed with work every single day?
I propose that you take your life back and schedule free time for yourself instead. By free time, I mean doing stuff that’s not work. This includes doing things like pursuing passion projects, bonding with your family, and developing yourself as a person.
Doing it is easy, in fact. You just add your free time activities in your calendar just like when you add meetings and deadlines.
I’m sure that’s not what’s stopping you though. It might feel weird, maybe even a bit indulgent, to put your free time first. But to be honest, it’s the best gift you can give not just yourself, but those who depend on you. Let me give you 11 reasons why you need to schedule your free time, it’s actually a better way of doing things.
1) Free time becomes important to you.
When you schedule your free time, you’re making that activity a priority and saying to yourself, “this is a good use of my time”. This makes it at least as important as your work, maybe even more important at times. Often, we just think of our free time as wasted hours when in fact, this fixed amount of downtime is what will help you keep going at work. Burnout is real, folks.
2) You show others that they are a priority.
When you pack your calendar with work, you’re telling the people close to you that work is more important than them. Once you schedule your free time and spend it with your family and close friends, their opinion of you will turn around. If you’ve been neglecting your relationships due to work, start by spending some of your scheduled free time with them.
3) You actually get more free time.
How many times has silently work crept into your free time? That won’t happen any more if you have something irrefutable to do on your calendar. It’ll be easier to say no to weekend work and all-nighters when you can show people your plans right on your calendar.
4) You’ll have something to look forward to after work.
Personally, I like to schedule something I enjoy doing in my after-work free time. That way, no matter how crazy my day gets, I always have something great to look forward to afterwards. It’s also a mental productivity trick of sorts: do well during the work day and claim your fun activity later as your reward to yourself.
5) Your free time will be put to better use.
If you’ll notice, I didn’t mention watching TV or browsing Facebook as free time activities. It’s because they shouldn’t be. When make it a point to set aside your free time, you’ll pretty much make sure that what you do with that time matters. Trust me, you won’t enjoy slacking off if you know you only have a few hours to spare each day.
6) You’ll be more productive at work.
Having something scheduled after work keeps you focused on getting everything done by the end of the day. This means shutting out unimportant meetings, doing only priority work, and delegating the extra work you have to your colleagues or subordinates. You’ll be surprised how productive you can be when you can’t extend work past 5pm.