Free Time, What's That?

Do you have time in your day or week when you completely unplug? Or does work lurk in your thoughts when you are supposed to be relaxing?

I know for me, this is a challenge.

See, I like to work. I get excited about my new ideas and want to implement them right away.

Unfortunately, often I don't know when to quit. When I let it get out of hand, it impacts my relationships with my family, energy, and patience


Then, I am short with everyone. I complain about having too much to do. I start to feel victimized by everything I "have" to do. It feels like it comes out of nowhere.

It didn't come out of nowhere. I just ignored the warning signs. Or the fact that there shouldn't be warning signs. If I were practicing what I preach perfectly, this wouldn't happen.

Guess what, I am human too, with my strengths and weaknesses. Knowing doesn't always translate to doing.

When I am operating from a healthy place, I have guardrails built into my schedule. I start my day with a morning routine that sets me up for a successful day. I close out my day with an evening routine that lets me drift off to sleep with a clear mind. I block time to connect with my family. I make sure I have downtime on the weekend. I don't always execute it flawlessly, but just planning the time brings awareness to the need for free time.

If you like to work or feel a lot of pressure to work, you may have difficulty coming up with what you want your free time to look like. Or you have a vision for the perfect free time plan that feels hollow when you try it.

Here are two steps to figuring it out –

1. Clear some time in your schedule to visualize what you might enjoy. Think back to times you felt relaxed. Remember who you were with, what you were doing, and where you were. Try to capture what you thought as you sat in that space.

I envision being in St. Lucia lying on the rental house's outdoor couch with a great view over the mountain and ocean. I was reading a book. Occasionally my kids or my husband or my parents would drift by and sit for a while. I was feeling contented and thinking that all was right in my world.

Now, I can't jet off to St. Lucia every time I need to relax, but I can find clues to recreate the emotion of the moment. I enjoy reading. I like having my family close. I love feeling close to nature and being outside. When I incorporate these things into my free time and intentionally think that all is right with my world, I relax.

Notice how critical the thought is. If I were reading a book thinking I should be working, I am not relaxed. If my family is present, but I worry about the kids' grades or the dishes in the sink, I am not relaxed. If I sit on my porch and look at the dog hair that needs to be cleaned up instead of focusing on the sights and sounds of nature, I am not relaxed.

2. Get creative. It may not work like you think it will. You may decide joining the 5 AM club is the answer. I tried that, and I was miserable and dragged through my days.

For me, starting work at 9:30 instead of 8 AM was the answer. That gave me time to warm up for my day before leaping in. I focus on gratitude and spirituality before I interact with anyone or any form of media. I get to exercise and reconnect with my body before I even know what drama may be in store for the day.

Everyone gets a much better me when I follow this schedule. I am more productive. I am nicer. I have patience. I can think clearly.

You do you here. There will be all types of thoughts about why things won't work. You have to have an open mind. You may be surprised at what works for you and how little time it requires.

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