How to enjoy your free time

Mindfulness & Self-improvement

How to enjoy your free time

The subject of this blog might seem trivial. Enjoying our own free time is a straightforward task, surely?

 

Well, in theory. But how many times have you found that a million other things have your encroached on your free time? How often have you spent time that is meant for you, sorting out other people’s problems? Or engaging with things that you find stressful when you should be relaxing?

 

Far too often, I’d guess. So, here are just a few tips on how to enjoy your free time. Find a quiet spot somewhere and enjoy.

 

Switch off technology

An obvious one, this – but it bears repeating. Technology is clearly the single biggest source of noise in our lives. Our phones, laptops and tablets are deeply addictive. They open us up to an endless source of information, news and entertainment, but that’s not conducive to focusing on ourselves. According to the experts at Inc.com, we spend over four hours a day on our phones.

 

So, one of the simplest ways to disconnect from the world and spend some quality time with ourselves is to disconnect from this stream.

 

There are obstacles to this, of course. People worry that they will miss something important or interesting. FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is a very real, and very powerful driver of behaviour.

 

It compels us to endlessly scroll through our social media feeds. It prevents us from switching off our phones, or not following the news. It makes us open work emails at 11 o’clock at night.

 

But it is important to switch off and disconnect. Practice and repeat it, and it will get easier.

 

Plan your free time

The next most important thing you need to do is actually plan in your free time. Schedule your down time. Don’t just rely on finding time for yourself when you’ve got everything else done: it just won’t happen.

 

There are plenty of theories around prioritising and managing tasks out there, from Big Rocks to the 4 Quadrants technique. The best advice I can give you here is just to try different ones out.

 

Find a way of prioritising tasks that works for you. And then make sure that free time is an important part of your schedule.

 

Learn single focus

My next tip follows directly on from the previous two: learn how to focus on one thing at a time. It’s actually a useful skill to learn in any area of our lives, whether it is work or play.

 

But just focusing fully on one thing at a time is something we actually find incredibly difficult. Anyone who has tried to meditate knows that the mind is a restless thing: it is constantly shifting its focus from one thing to another.

 

So when it does come to making the most of our free time, we find it incredibly difficult to simply focus on ourselves. Yet again, it’s something that comes with practice (and meditation can actually help here).

 

Once we train ourselves to be able hold our attention on one thing for a sustained period, it means we begin to experience things much more fully.

 

Move, get outside, and be with people

We feel better when we’re active – particularly when we’re outside and with other people. Why does this happen? Well all of these things take us away from our cares and worries and help us to relax.

 

Nature gives us a sense of perspective. Other people remind us that there is more to life than the internal monologue in our heads. And exercise does a great job of getting happy chemicals like endorphins flowing around your body.

 

Don’t feel guilty

Why do we feel guilty about enjoying our free time? It is crazy, but many of us do. We our working lives meeting the needs of other people. We care for our families. We listen to our friends’ problems. But we find it hard to give ourselves the same kind of attention and self care.

 

Our free time is the perfect time to do this. It’s our time, and we should never feel guilty about enjoying it.

 

 

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