If you’ve had a full-time job for a while, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. You get home from work, sit yourself down in front of your TV with your dinner, and you don’t move until it’s time to go to sleep. Suddenly? Those 5-6 hours of freedom a night have gone completely to waste! It’s almost as if we’ve forgotten that productivity doesn’t have to stay confined to work hours. In fact it’s totally possible to increase your free time productivity without taking away from your relaxation time! After all, no one wants to feel like they’ve wasted away the few precious hours they have to themselves at night.
After I graduated from University and started working, something that really shocked me was really how much free time I had on my hands. Strange, right? In college you can create your own schedule and you’re only in classes for 12-18 hours a week. But I, like many college students nowadays, had a part-time job in addition to all of my extracurriculars. This left very little free time after my studying was done for the night. Once my daily schedule revolved around arriving to work by 8:30am and leaving by 5:30pm, I was basically at a loss as to how to spend my free time! And what did I do? Exactly what I wrote above: lounged around on my couch watching Netflix and HGTV until I just couldn’t stand it.
So in a continual effort to lead a purposefully productive life, I decided to make a change. I would use my free time in a more productive manner (AKA invest in my free time productivity) so that I could get more accomplished during my few hours I had all to myself. Did this mean I never took the time to just veg? Uh, no! I definitely still do. But now it’s because I want to, not because I have nothing better to do!
So, who’s ready to stop wasting their day and invest in their own free time productivity? Read on!
Pick up a hobby
At the beginning of last June, after I moved into my first big girl apartment and enjoyed two weeks of nothing but shopping, I suddenly found myself at a complete loss. I had no clue how to spend my time until I started working (at least another two weeks). My life had previously revolved around extracurriculars and studying and paper writing. I had no clue what to do with my free time without those things.
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Out of my boredom, though, came this blog: my personal free time productivity fix that started as an experiment and became a reality! The Model UN delegate in me needed an outlet to share my thoughts, my mind needed a project to occupy it, and my heart, as cheesy as it sounds, had secretly always wanted to run a blog. And I can wholeheartedly say that this hobby of mine has kept me productive ever since!
So take some time to ponder the hobbies that you’ve always wanted to try. Maybe it’s knitting or crocheting, sketching or sculpting, writing or singing! Whatever it may be, make it the focus of your free time productivity. Use it to re-energize you to do what you love at the end of your work day. Hone that skill you always wished you had! After all, it’s hard to waste time if you’re actively working towards a goal!Investing in a hobby is a great way to increase your free time productivity, and can lead you to passions you may not have considered before! #productivityhack Click To Tweet
Invest in a gym membership
Obvious? Probably, but let’s be real, we ALL need the reminder to get off our lazy butts every once in a while. Here’s the thing: if you’re looking for free time productivity hacks but you don’t have a regular exercise routine, then you already know where to start.
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After graduation, once you get a full-time job? You should always be factoring fitness into your every day routine. Think about it. I’m generally home between 5 and 6 PM every day. I go to sleep at or a little before midnight. That gives me 6 or 7 hours of free time that I need to fill! Sure, an hour or two may be spent commuting or cooking dinner, but the other 4-5? You can definitely spare some time in there for an hour at the gym every other day.
Taking the time to really invest in my exercise routine has honestly made a world of difference when it comes to my fitness goals! And it’s all because I decided to really make it a priority when I plan out my free time productivity instead of just avoiding it or not acknowledging it as an option at all.Use your free time wisely; if you're working towards bettering yourself, then there's no way to not be productive. Making time for the gym is a great start! #productivityhack Click To Tweet
Listen to podcasts
Podcasts are my absolute favorite way to get information throughout the day and to invest in my free time productivity. While I’m definitely a very visual person, I’m also someone who needs to be doing something at all times. And I often need to keep my mind occupied while I do things. For a long time my answer was audio books, but those can be expensive. I’ll admit: I just wasn’t willing shell out $15 a month for one audio book I’d finish in two weeks!
My first foray into podcasts, and indeed many people’s, came when the hit podcast Serial took the internet by storm. Since then I’ve expanded my library to include personal development, true crime, politics, blogging, and news! Somehow, it never stops growing!
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If you decide to invest in your own free time productivity, picking up a couple of podcasts is one of the easiest and non-intrusive actions you can take. Think about how much time you spend driving, cooking, cleaning, walking, commuting, online shopping, etc.! For the most part, hardly any of these tasks require active listening to what’s going on around you. By introducing a podcast into any of these situations, you’re not drastically changing your routine, but you are staying productive while you go about your day.
Read a book
If you’re the type of person who could maintain a stacked reading list while balancing your mandatory class readings, then man, I commend you! I, on the other hand, haven’t read for pleasure since I finished A Dance with Dragons a few ago while abroad. Since then, I just couldn’t justify reading more fiction books and neglecting my studies. The result? I haven’t checked a book off my reading list, or even had a reading list, in the past couple of years.
Now that I’ve made a shift towards free time productivity, however, I’ve made reading a key part of nightly routine. Nevermind the fact that my boyfriend has made it his mission to read me the Harry Potty series (can I just saw I don’t know how I never read these on my own??), I’ve made a concerted effort to invest in the self-help genre of books, something I’ve never had a desire to read before. If you’re already an avid reader, consider improving your free time productivity by investing in your own professional development!
Not only does perusing this genre for a half hour to an hour each night help me stay productive in my free time, but it also furthers my own professional development, something that I’ve taken an increased interest in ever since I started Signed, Logan! Lately I’ve been loving Millennial Reboot: Our Generation’s Playbook for Professional Growth and Willpower Doesn’t Work: Discover the Hidden Keys to Success. The former focuses on how millennials can succeed in the workplace by honing in on inter-generational communication strategies through down to earth comparisons! The latter, meanwhile, explains how changing your environment in purposeful, meaningful ways can help you achieve your goals, rather than relying on a finite source like willpower.
Add something of educational value to your watch list on Netflix
While I love a good Criminal Minds binge watch every now and then, rushing through every TV show I can find on Netflix loses its appeal after a few weeks. Shocking, I know, but when you have so much free time on your hands you eventually run out of compelling things to watch!
I’ll admit, it’s a rare day when you find me engrossed in a Netflix marathon. My boyfriend and I have gotten better about moderating our TV time (personally, mine is limited to the two or so episodes a night we watch together), but when I do indulge myself, I normally choose something that has a more educational spin.
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Does this mean I’m watching PBS all day every day? No, not exactly. But I’ll make an effort to watch a documentary every once in a while about a topic I find compelling. Right now, my watch list is filled with True Crime documentaries and series (I’m a little late on the Making a Murderer train)! And a couple of weeks ago, the only thing I would watch on my own were episodes of the french crime thriller La Mante. Fiction? Sure, but I also watched it in French with English subtitles to get my ear used to hearing the language again! This also ensures I’m actually using my free time productivity to its fullest potential. After all, getting distracted on my phone means I lose track of the plot and have to rewind. Listening to it in French forces me to fully immerse myself!
Do you have any free time productivity hacks that keep you meaningfully busy during the day? Let me know in the comments below!