When it comes to free time, most of us can't seem to get enough. Unfortunately, life probably won't ever slow down, so it seems the best way to find a day for leisure is figure how to carve out more free time for ourselves. A random day off with no obligations probably isn't going to just fall into our lap, so if we're looking for some time to unwind, it's best we figure out ways to organize our life to make sure we get the downtime we need.
"Having free time for yourself is important because it allows you to recharge and reenergize," says psychotherapist Jessica Marchena, LMHC over email. "It gives you time to clear your mind, relax, and focus on you. If you don't do this, you can get easily irritated or stressed with loved ones or at work, you can get sick or depressed, and it can make you feel sluggish or tired all of the time."
Research published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine found that leisure activity done in your free time relieves stress and lowers blood pressure immediately, reinforcing the positive mental and physical benefits of freeing up some time for yourself.
If you're desperate for some much needed "me-time," try these six tips that can help you figure out ways to have more free time.
1. Schedule It In Your Calendar
"You can fit in more time for yourself by actually scheduling it in your calendar," says Marchena. Try starting with one or two hours, and eventually work your way up to a whole day. "Don't schedule anything else. That time is for you and don't feel guilty about it," she says.
2. Automate Everything You Can
"Anything you can do to put recurring obligations on auto-pilot will help free up time," says former CEO and speaker Janice Holly Booth over email. "Prescription refill programs, automatic 401(k) deductions, software that tracks spending, apps that remind you it's time to get up, and move.... Removing the need to think about these things will help you focus on more 'you-time.'"
3. Get Organized
"Nothing saves time so much as having order in our lives," says professional organizer Adriane Weinberg over email. "Disorganization wastes a tremendous amount of time, such as when things can’t be found, running late for appointments, and forgetting things."
4. Get Off Social Media
"A great way to save a ton of time is to spend less time on Facebook and other social media," says behavioral health coach Gabrielle Loehr over email. "There are a ton of social media sites, so pick the two or three you like and use the most, then check your other profiles occasionally. For the social media you are using, limit your cumulative time to an hour or two a day."
5. Get Enough Sleep
Tacking on extra hours of sleep each night may seem like it would take away from your free time, but getting sufficient sleep can help you work optimally and get your tasks gone more quickly. "Constant sleep deprivation will cause poorer decision making and this alone will likely mean you're not being as productive as you could be during the day," says productivity consultant and professional organizer Clare Kumar over email. "If you're less productive, things are taking longer to do, leaving less time for what you want to do later."
"One of the critical mistakes that most people make is not being able to prioritize," says psychotherapist and coach Cathey Stamps over email. "All tasks and goals are not equal in immediacy, even if they are all important to us. Many people end up feeling like they don't have time for it all because they are letting busywork take precedence over more important items. Priorities have to include time for the things that matter to us personally, such as time with loved ones, fitness, and passion projects,"
Having free time is important, but it's also crucial you spend that time doing activities that can help you unwind and destress in healthy and inspiring ways.
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