Free time gives you a break from some of the pressures of everyday life so you can get stuck into doing the things you love the most, but it's easy to use it to lounge around not doing very much at all. This guide will show you how to make the most of your free time and use it well.
Why is free time important?
As tempting as it can be to work without stopping, scheduling breaks in between studying, school or work gives you much-needed time to breathe! If you don’t give yourself time to rest and recuperate, you could suffer from negative effects such as increased stress levels, lack of concentration, and a sense of overwhelm.
Breaks mean you can focus on something other than your academic or work schedule and spend your time as you wish. If you have any hobbies, interests or passions that don’t fall as neatly into your everyday schedule, free time could be the opportunity you need to pursue them.
However, you can also use some parts of your free time to revise or brush up on a new skill that may help your overall employability. Your free time can be managed to include these various types of activities.
1. Find out exactly how much free time you have
It’s always good to know how much free time you actually have before you start thinking about how you’re going to spend it. This helps you figure out what kind of activities may be feasible and achievable, given the amount of time you may have in a week.
- Be aware of your current commitments: If you haven’t already, grab a copy of your school and/or work timetable.This will help you figure out how much time you have left over each week for free time activities.
- Note down any later changes: You may have ample free time at the beginning of the school year, but towards the end, with exams coming up, you may find that you have less free time. Or, if you have a job, busy periods, like during the holidays, can leave you with a lot less free time than at any other point in the year.
2. Set clear intentions for your free time
You may already have a clear idea of what you like to do in your free time. For example, you may already enjoy a particular sport, reading, or socialising with friends. Equally, you might not have the faintest idea what it is you enjoy doing the most! That does not matter – you can always use your free time to test and explore, in order to find out what you enjoy doing.
- Figure out the type of activities you want to do: In your free time, you might actually want to revise or work on improving some of the subjects you find challenging. Equally, you may want to spend some time doing more fun activities, like going out with your friends, playing an instrument, going roller skating, or baking. It’s also perfectly possible to do multiple activities in your free time – although we wouldn’t recommend roller skating and baking at the same time!
- Prioritise your activities: Choose the activities that are most important to you at a given time. For example, you may find that having as much fun as possible in your free time is a priority, which means the majority of your free time will be spent doing fun activities you enjoy. Or, you may want to prioritise learning and productivity during your free time. Getting a sense of which activities mean the most to you will help you spend your free time as efficiently as possible.
3. Be flexible
Although you can plan how you intend to spend your free time down to the minute details, life always throws curveballs, and it’s important to adapt when this happens.
For example, if you find that a new deadline or priority at school has been thrown your way, you may have to cut down on some of your free time in order to accommodate it. Or, you may have to spend your free time actively preparing for it.
Another example is when you’re given more free time than you initially thought you had. You might find that one of your lectures or some of your workload has been rescheduled to a later date, or some of your commitments for a particular week have been cancelled. This will give you more free time, and having some activities in mind, just in case, is always handy.
4. Enjoy your free time
Free time is all about ensuring you also get to spend some much-needed time doing the things that you genuinely enjoy. Make sure to find a balance between doing activities that are not related to school or work, and spend some time just enjoying rest when you can.