Growth is a process and can be subject to how effectively you use your free time. A common theme with people finding excuses for not doing something to better themselves is the “Ya but…” default response. You know “I’d like to learn another language, but work is busy right now, by time I get home from work and get the kid’s settled it’s time to go to bed. I really don’t have the time.”
It’s time to be better aware of your free time
Instead of leaving improvement goals for the “extra” time that never seems to come up, schedule the time on your calendar for the upcoming week.
We often feel the need to sit in front of tv to ‘relax’, but if you actively pursued at least part of that time attaining some of your goals, you may find you don’t need that “relax” mind-numbing time…you’ll have more energy because you will have accomplished something.
This all starts with you. YOU make decisions as to where you spend your time and how. Even if you have a job, you have decided that you will spend your time employed for x hours this week as your primary source of income.
But what about the remaining time. Moms and Dads often have time commitments for transporting and supporting their kids’ activities. They’ve decided it’s important to spend that time developing their kids. It’s all decisions about where and how to spend time.
So you have work hours, kids/family time mapped out. What does your free time, often called, discretionary time look like? Do you know, or do you find yourself saying “great, I don’t have to be anywhere tonight, so I’m going to relax”?
If you’re not careful you can spend lots of time relaxing…this relaxing can become so automatic that you get lulled into the belief you don’t have time for anything else, like improving yourself.
Make appointments with yourself and keep them
So what can you do? I’ve wrote about using a to do list before, “Interested in keeping your day organized?” Additionally, if you don’t use your calendar, you need to start. I recommend using a digital calendar on your smartphone. This makes it easier to edit and accomplish anywhere.
Each week spend a little time scheduling your week. By this I mean, putting appointments on your calendar.
Put a block each day labelled “work” covering the hours you will be at work . Now schedule any other family commitments for the week and put them on the calendar.
Next, schedule appointments with yourself to accomplish the things you will do towards your personal improvement. Think about what you need to do for the week and put time blocks on your calendar.
This accomplishes a couple of things. First and most important, the time blocks for personal improvement are now scheduled. Those time blocks cannot be used for anything else. You need to treat these blocks as you would any other important appointment.
Go to your appointment just as you would a doctor appointment. This is now sacred time and you need to keep your appointment with yourself.
Another benefit of scheduling appointments with yourself is time won’t have a tendency to slip away. Oftentimes, when you don’t have any appointments or time commitments, you tend to become less focussed until your next commitment, eg., going to work tomorrow.
This time feels like leisure time and you have a tendency to view it as free time. When something is “free” it is easier to take for granted. When your time is scheduled, it is no longer free…you’ll be more productive.
Planning your week and making appointments, particularly appointments with yourself, makes you more aware of your time and how you spend it.
Practice this and you’ll be able to learn that language you always wanted to; start that online business for additional income, or take courses to improve yourself as an employee.
Whatever your goal, it starts with how you use your time. It’s your choice. Make it a good choice.