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Maximise your free time

Picture this… you're sitting in class, or stuck in traffic. You can't stop thinking about how you'd rather be spending your time. Your mind races with thoughts of how you can get fit… grow your income… be a better friend, or a better human for that matter.

Prioritising our spare time can be more difficult than it seems. This is because we never give much thought to planning ahead. When we finally get free time we're usually so exhausted, we end up wasting it scrolling through Instagram.

Here's a weekly plan of attack to help you schedule your spare time in the most efficient way.

Step 1: Calculate your pre-allocated hours

Many of the hours in each week are pre-allocated to tasks that we can't avoid. For most of us, our allocated hours will include a combination of the following activities:

  • Sleep
  • Work
  • Study
  • Travel Time
  • Other regular appointments eg. Soccer training, piano lessons, tutoring etc
  • Chores eg. Cooking, cleaning, bathing, paying bills, mowing, grocery shopping etc
  • Child-minding hours
  • Add up the total time you spend on all of these activities. Then subtract this from the total number of hours in the week (168) to reach your free time allocation.

    Step 2: Divide your free time.

    Follow the PAR method to divide your free time productively.

    P – PLANNING (15%)

    A – ACTING (65%)

    R – REFLECTING/RELAXING (20%)

    Planning

    Planning is best done at the earliest opportunity in the day, with a fresh mind. It lays a foundation for something you want to do later and can include researching, reading, strategizing, brainstorming, and writing to-do lists, shopping lists and action plans.

    Acting

    Acting is effectively putting that plan into action. Eg. Using the study plan you made to begin writing notes, or starting the exercise routine you saved from Youtube earlier.

    Reflecting/Relaxing

    Reflecting is an important step in helping us plan and act more effectively.. Spend this time blogging or writing in a journal and examine what you did that day. Was it successful? Why? Why not? If you've done enough reflection, allow yourself some pure relaxation.

    Step 3: Map Your Time

  • Grab a Weekly Planner that can be divided into hours of each day. There are loads on Pinterest.
  • Take a different coloured highlighter for every category of pre-allocated hours that makes up your week. Highlight every hour you spend on each activity in a different colour.
  • In another colour highlight where your chores will fit in around this.
  • What's not highlighted now is your free time. Put an F in every empty box. If you have 100 free hours in the week, using the PAR method and the percentages above, you'll have 15 hours of planning, 65 hours acting and 20 hours reflecting. Beside each F, mark free hours that are early in the day with P, mark hours late in the day with R (except maybe Friday/Saturday nights) and fill in what's left with A.
  • You should end up with something that looks a little like this. Now you are set up to maximise every hour of your week.

    weekly planner