Make the Most of Your Free Time

Make the Most of Your Free Time

Sundays are special. They don’t have the same get ‘er done energy as Saturdays do, and, at the same time, they encourage both dreaming about the future and introspection.

This past Sunday, I had a completely free afternoon. No kids’ activities, no meetups for coffee, no plans to declutter the basement. Total. Freedom. A precious gift. Certainly something that seemed like a dream when I was knee-deep in babies and poopy diapers, and also later, when I was in dental school and trying to balance my academic demands with family time.

Every stage has its challenges.

What I realized, though, was that in order to truly enjoy and take advantage of my abundance of unstructured time, I needed to apply some structure to it. Otherwise, free time would devolve into hours frittered away on social media. You know how that goes.

The list of things I want to do was long and varied, and I certainly wasn’t going to be able to fit everything I wanted to do into my day.

This meant I had to make some decisions.

To start, I decided that I needed to start by reminding myself of my core desired feelings: FREE, EASE, EXPANSIVE, FIRED UP!, CONNECTED. (If this idea is unfamiliar to you, please check out Danielle LaPorte’s site.) I also decided that I needed to prioritize movement and fun in order to replenish my energy stores. With my intentions firmly in mind, I made a list of everything I could think of that would help me achieve my core desired feelings:

Brain dump list

Clearly too many things to accomplish in an afternoon. So, I started to narrow it down. I tend to be overly optimistic in what I can accomplish, and I’ve learned from experience that a list of three things is usually doable and doesn’t lead to the same sense of failure for not completing your list of fifteen things (which was completely unrealistic in the first place!). At the same time, narrowing down my afternoon to a list of three items seemed restrictive, so I compromised by listing ten things that I wanted to do, and then ranking them, thereby embracing the blue skies optimism embodied by a long list of to dos, while dodging the feeling of failure in not accomplishing all ten items by setting the bar at the top three.

Top 10 List

Did I secretly want to accomplish all ten items? Heck yeah.

Did I accomplish all ten items? Heck no.

I completed my top three (I tidied the living room, went outside for a walk, and created a brand-new vision board for spring) and felt satisfied in doing so, because I knew, deep down, that completing what I had identified as my top three had had the greatest possible impact on my mood and feelings.

How do you prioritize your tasks and activities? What activities are sure to bring you joy?

 

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