A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about how overworking yourself makes you less productive. So many of us are used to overworking ourselves and we don’t know how to function without that crunch time. Here’s the follow up to that age-old problem: what can we do instead?
First, we sometimes have to force ourselves to have free time. Yes, literally block the time out on your calendar if needed. Carve out time so that you can focus on something non-work-related. Doing something like taking a class makes it easy to force yourself into that time. Other activities, though – like writing – are not as set in stone. Make sure that you set a schedule. Maybe that’s once a day for ten minutes or once a week for an hour; whatever it is, stick to it.
Next, choose to do things that make you happy. It doesn’t matter what it is. I want you to think about that thing and determine if it gives you joy. If it doesn’t, then move on to something else that does. Now, if you’re learning something new, give yourself some grace and allow yourself time to learn. It may be frustrating at first but you’ll never know whether or not you love it if you give up quickly. That said, if you begin dreading your time on this activity, it may be time to choose something new. Another way to curve this is by splitting that leisure time: watch your favorite TV show and then grant yourself an additional 15 minutes to work on learning Swedish.
Finally, don’t let others get in the way of your leisure time. Just like with work, you’re going to have distractions and people attempting to interfere. If your alone time is meant to be focused inward, do exactly that. Turn your phone on silent and ask your spouse to watch the kids for 30 minutes. The more you are interrupted, the less recharge you will get out of that time.
I completely understand that there are only 24 hours in a day and it often feels like we can’t fit everything in. But we always carve out time for the important items on our agenda. Make sure that you’re scheduling time for the most important aspect of your life: you.