Most people think they want more money when they could really benefit from having more time. That’s because time is the only thing you can never create more of. It passes regardless of whether you use it well.
The problem is that so many of us have such busy work schedules that we never leave time for living the lives we want to live. But that can all change with some purpose and intentionality. Free time doesn’t happen by chance – you have to create it.
Here are a few ways you can do that:
- Be Proactive With Your Schedule
As you grow in your career and/or start building a family, your schedule will have a way of filling up weeks in advance. If you aren’t disciplined about carving out free time on your schedule, it won’t happen.
Block out chunks of the week for “Me Time.” Whether it’s an hour after work or an entire weekend, proactively putting this time into your calendar forces you to prioritize it (and gives you a legitimate excuse to turn down other things that come up at the last minute).
- Learn to Say “No”
Speaking of turning other requests down, you have to get better at saying “no.” Learning to say that one simple word will produce more pockets of free time than you could ever dream of.
There are two keys to saying no with conviction. The first is to know when to say no. You can gain clarity on this by creating a simple set of rules by which you decide whether to say yes or no to something. In doing so, ask yourself what is essential, what’s not essential but desirable, and what’s not essential and not desirable? Anything that falls into the first category is “yes.” Anything that falls into the last category is “no.” It’s the requests falling in the middle category that require some creative thinking.
The second key is to know how to say no. While most people have a tendency to say no followed by a bunch of reasons explaining why they’re saying no, it’s better to just flat out say, “I can’t.” When you provide lots of justification and context, it gives the other person permission to talk you out of your excuses. But when you just say no in a polite but diplomatic way, it gives you all of the control.
- Delegate Certain Tasks
There are certain tasks that have to get done, but that doesn’t always mean you have to use your time to complete them. This is where the concept of delegation comes into play.
For example, if you’re a real estate investor, you could easily hire a residential property manager to handle tasks like tenant screening and rent collection on your behalf. Or, if you’re a busy stay-at-home mom, you could hire a maid service to come once a week and clean your house. It’s all about finding cost-effective ways to save time.
- Identify and Kill Time-Wasters
It’s possible that you’re unintentionally undermining your ability to create free time by engaging in a laundry list of time-wasting activities throughout the day. Identify your five or six biggest time-wasters and then ruthlessly cut them from your day. They may include social media apps, TV, or hitting the snooze button in the morning.
- Leverage Your “Down Time”
There’s a difference between “down time” and “free time.” And unless you use your down time well, you won’t have much left for meaningful free time.
Down time is the time in between tasks. It’s not enough time to relax (e.g. watch a movie, take a nap, or spend time with friends), but it’s just enough time to be productive. If you prioritize these chunks of time – which often occur between meetings or while waiting in line somewhere – you’ll be able to fully utilize your free time when it arrives.
Good down time tasks include checking and responding to emails, organizing your weekly schedule, shopping around insurance rates, or whatever else may be on your to-do list.
Spend Your Free Time Wisely
Once you get your free time, use it wisely. While watching Netflix or playing video games might be your best use, we recommend being more intentional than this. There’s plenty of time for relaxing, but we’d also suggest constructive tasks like exercising, reading, traveling, and spending time with loved ones. It’s obviously your time (and you can use it how you’d like), but definitely give it some forethought so that you don’t waste away in boredom!