Take control of your free time

stopwatch in hand

There comes a time when the 24 hours in a day are just not enough.

Whether you are a student with too many classes to attend or a working adult with long workdays; at the end of the day you will feel overwhelmed. You would want to sit down and relax with some mindless leisure. I get that and I sometimes do indulge in long periods of leisure for which I end up feeling guilty because (A) Too much leisure stops being fun and (B) Accumulated backlog of daily tasks. You might be working on a personal productivity project as well: maybe you want to read more, exercise more, learn a language or practice a skill or hobby but just can’t find time.

Does Time-Shortage Guarantee Productivity?


When I was a full-time student and had most of my day free to use as I pleased, I believed that it would be easier to be productive when I would have limited free time. I should be able to be motivated for that short period of time, finish my tasks and be done for the day. But the exact opposite happened.

This was an unexpected outcome: now that I know my entire day will be dictated by work, I want to spend my limited free time completely stress free; I do whatever I fancy, regardless of its value. Hence I ended up wasting too much time on Reddit, TV and YouTube.

This problem is universal. It takes immense willpower to actually sit down and work on your personal projects when working full time. Perhaps this is why so many of us quit our side projects in the face of a demanding schedule. It does feel like it would be too much work to force myself to be productive after a long day. But, I’m determined to make it work. Perhaps I won’t be able to accomplish as much as I had hoped but it surely would be more than zero.

It all comes down to how serious you are about your personal goals. You will regret the hours you spend on unbridled entertainment but you will definitely not regret any time you spend on personal productivity.

How to make it work:

1. Find time.

Write down your entire day’s schedule. Where can you find free time? Maybe on a long commute? Ideally, you should try and find one hour before going to bed and one hour right after waking up. If you can’t manage both, go for morning time by sleeping earlier (get enough sleep). It’s just easier to focus in mornings when you have not begun your day. Added bonus: your day will go much better with the small sense of accomplishment you got first thing in the morning!

2. Schedule productive time AND leisure time.

The way out of this mindless entertainment quagmire is scheduling. Craft a schedule that includes productivity and leisure in equal amounts. If you have two hours of free time, use one hour for a personal projects and one hour for entertainment. Divide it evenly. Don’t overdo it saying ‘I don’t need mindless leisure’. You do. Use mornings for productive work and leisure should be at the end of the day. If you find time just in the evenings: get work done first then leisure.

3. Mindful, high-quality leisure only.

Ruthlessly cut away everything that does not bring you joy. Make leisure activities count by indulging in those that truly bring you joy; instead of doing something just to while away the time. For me: mindless scrolling on social media, YouTube, Reddit or just watching live TV is very unsatisfying. Making it mindful is good. Example: Decide in advance which show/movie/YouTube channel you want to watch, do it then quit. Don’t fall into the trap of endless binging. I enjoy reading and music much more than TV or internet. So I try to to use those as my high-quality leisure instead.

That’s how simple it is. You just need to make an effort to get things done instead of wallowing in your lack of time. We all have 24 hours per day. Make yours count.

I am grateful to everyone who asked me “when is the new article coming?“ in the last 6+ months. I started a new work schedule which gave me way less time to myself. Although I was able to find time here and there for my other projects, somehow blogging stayed at the bottom of my priorities. Well, not anymore. I now recall the joy of blogging and I resolve to write once every week, on sundays, just like before. Thank you for your continued support!

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