It can seem that your days are packed full, especially if you are working full time. The thought of time to yourself can sometimes seem impossible, however with a little creativity and planning there are ways that you can carve out extra time in your day. Here are a few that I have found:
Use Your Commute
Commuting doesn’t have to be dead time in your day. If you drive to work, you could turn your car into a place to learn. You could listen to an inspirational audio tape or learn a new language. If you travel by public transport you could also do this or read a book. You could use the trip to work as an opportunity to exercise either by walking, cycling or getting off a stop early if you take public transit. If you commute half an hour each way a day, that could be five hours a week that you could spend on this new activity!
Make Sure You Take a Break
It can be easy to get into the bad habit of eating lunch at your desk and not taking a break, but wherever you work, taking a break will make you feel more refreshed and more productive when you return. If you have an hour’s lunch break, how could you use that time to maximum effect? If you really want to start a blog or a new business, could you use those five hours a week to do it? Bring your laptop in and get started. It’s amazing what you can achieve when you get focused and really use your “downtime” effectively.
Prepare Meals in Advance
I really enjoy cooking but it is often the last thing I feel like doing after being at work all day. What can you prepare in advance? Slow cookers are great. You can chop up the contents of a soup or stew (there are lots of other things you can do in them as well) in just ten minutes and then they are safe to leave on to cook while you are at work. You can then come in the door to the smell of healthy, home-cooked food! You could also freeze extra portions of food you make for those days when you are really pressed for time. Planning some meals for the week will help you be prepared and make it less likely that you will eat out or grab some drive-thru on the way home.
Bringing a packed lunch to work is another time and money saver. It will also give you more control over what you eat. Take a little time to plan your food shopping and menu at the beginning of the week; you’ll save time and ensure that you eat well.
Plan Your Week
I am not the most organized person in the world but I have found that a little planning makes a big difference. On a Sunday night, have a quick look at your week and see if there are any activities you can drop, delegate or double up. For example, if you find yourself going to the supermarket a couple of times each week, write a shopping list for the whole week and just go once. This will help you to feel more in control of your week rather than feeling like your week is in control of you. You don’t have to do everything that others ask of you. Prioritize and try to ensure that as much as possible, you are only doing things that you want to be doing. Cutting back on unnecessary or enjoyable commitments will free your time up to do more of what you want to do — or maybe to enjoy doing nothing at all!
Learn to Say No
Saying “no” is something many people struggle with but it is such a vital skill to learn. If we don’t say no sometimes, we will become overwhelmed or find that our time is filled with activities that we actually don’t want to do. There are only so many hours in the day so start to look at what you agree to and see if you can pare back — or at least only take on what appeals and is manageable. I used to say “yes” to everything and at some point, I realized I couldn’t carry on like that. I was tired all the time and felt like I was living my life for other people. Regain control! You never know, you might find you free up a lot more time than you expect to start that new hobby or business.
Cut Down Your Work Hours
This option won’t be for everyone, but if you can find ways to cut back on your expenditures, you might be able to cut your hours down and free up more time for yourself. I often hear people say that they couldn’t afford to do this, whilst continuously spending money on unnecessary things every week. Work out what your daily rate is and see if you could save that amount each week. It will help you identify what you need to do to cut your hours down. It may be easier to reach than you realize!
(Image courtesy of TheGiantVermin under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 generic license.)
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