Wake Up: Why And How To Stop Wasting Your Precious Free Time
Children say ‘no’ all the time. While we are young and full of wide-eyed wonder, it doesn’t even cross our mind that saying ‘no’ would become something akin to alchemy. Like the Philosopher’s Stone, the ability turns into something nearly impossible to attain. It comes down to learning how to respect yourself and your own time. After all, it has never been as true as it is in modern society that (free) time is a precious commodity. Learning to say ‘no’ is only one piece in the puzzle of learning to stop wasting your hard-earned free time.
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The free time trap
Me-time means freedom to recuperate on your own terms. This is why carefully-chosen hobbies can be the best stress busters. However, many of us will often find ourselves squandering our free time on mindless, escapist activities such as scrolling our social media feeds, binging on TV-shows, or playing hours upon hours of open-ended multiplayer games. Let me be clear – these are all perfectly valid activities, but only when you partake in moderation. The problem lies in the fact that they typically have an addictive quality, so they become hard to shake off as the small ‘trickle’ of endorphins slowly floods your brain. You’re hooked before you know it.
Welcome to a world of opportunities
On the other hand, our world holds a colorful mosaic of fulfilling activities. Joyful hobbies that require skill and put you on the path of self-improvement will give you more ‘mileage’ in terms of happiness than anything else. Perhaps there’s an activity you’ve wanted to try for a while, but you just never made an effort to actually take the first step. Or maybe you want to go on a journey of self-discovery and try all kinds of activities until you find something you don’t want to let go of.
You might want to finally take up writing fiction, or something as simple as visiting the nearest national park more often. Of course, you might simply find endless delight in physical activity and the numerous benefits it entails. The outdoors are as delightful playgrounds for hikers and runners as they are contemplative environments for people from all walks of life. For an immersive experience, you can bring along painting equipment or a camera and learn how to get started with outdoor photography.
Now, you’ve probably noticed a very particular theme that permeates through all of the suggestions: they entail your initiative, your conscious choice to participate and, quite often, solitude. This is where we get to the heart of the issue we’ve talked about at the beginning of this post.
Saying ‘no’ is the gateway to quality free time
People require social interaction – that much is undeniable. However, because of this intrinsic human need, we tend to develop a specific weakness: caving into peer pressure.
As you spend enough quality time with yourself and activities that improve you in every way, you will grow into a noticeably balanced person. Moreover, people will begin to perceive you like one, and they’ll want to spend more time with you. In one way or another, they’ll demand that you dedicate your time to activities that include them, but you naturally won’t always be eager to participate.
We all crave acceptance, even if it means doing something that we don’t feel comfortable with. But as long as we continue saying ‘yes’ to these kinds of activities, the resentment will inescapably grow. In essence, this is vanity, and you need to let it go. Put in a conscious effort to start saying ‘no’ and learn how to be good to yourself – otherwise, you won’t be any good for others. Only then will you leave the door open to organize your free time according to your comfort.
Eliminate and replace
When you take on organizing your free time, start by creating a rough schedule of your day. As your timetable comes together, review it once more and ‘discriminate’ against activities that can be interpreted as a waste of time in any conceivable way. Then replace those activities with something that can be interpreted as pro-active and good for you. Activities do have value, and the benefit of discriminating based on value can be psychological, physical, or, in the ideal world, a combination of the two.
Replace watching TV, freeform ‘relaxing’ hour, and playing video games with palpable, constructive hobbies such as gardening, writing, cooking, painting, or helping your community. As long as it entails working on a skill and being in a state of gentle focus, you’re on a good path. Give yourself a complete break with gaming and TV if you need to blow off some steam, but keep in mind that wasting more than two hours on these kinds of activities daily is rather harmful in the long run. After a certain point, you will look back and feel as if all that time has slipped through your fingers.
What are the benefits?
As someone who dictates their own free time and avoids wanton time-wasters, you will reap multiple benefits. First of all, filling your days with solitary activities will make you better for all of the people that surround you and require your help. You’ll give your mind the workout and the active rest it needs. You’ll feel more confident, mindful, and balanced. Above all else, giving yourself necessary elbow space to enjoy creative, mind-bending, muscle-building activities will turn you into a better problem-solver, ready to take on life’s challenges.
Everyone is talking about efficiency these days. While the term usually pertains to work-related performance and obligations, it can also become a goal you strive for when it comes to using your hard-earned free time. It often so happens that we waste our free hours on activities that are not rewarding in the long run. Constructive hobbies that bring you benefits across multiple levels of being (physical, mental, spiritual) are universally the worthiest choice.
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