Wednesday, September 2, 2009

More Free Time

I was looking through the issue of Real Simple that I brought to the last meeting and found an article on how to have “More Free Time.” It was written by Elizabeth Fenner and it starts on page 147 of the July 2008 issue. The article begins by considering the results of a recent Real Simple survey. The survey revealed that 93 percent of their readers who responded to the pole didn’t think they had time for fun. That is a very sad statistic and I will admit that I am part of that majority. The problem I think that most of us face is that in our fast-paced, got-to-get-ahead society, we feel too guilty to add fun to our day.

The article says that “with the help of a dozen psychologists, researchers, and coaches…they have come up with a three-part plan to re-seize the day.” They add that how you spend that time is entirely up to you. My recommendation is that if you use these strategies to add some free time to your schedule – make sure you use it for fun!

Step 1: Step back (for a second). Figure out why you want more free time. This is the same recommendation that we have read in all of the books by our “experts” – setting a goal makes it easier to accomplish the task. This is true for why you want more free time as it was for why you want to clear the clutter from your life. What is it you want to be doing that you are not doing now.

Make a wish list. This is a nice way to think about your list of life goals – as a wish list. I think a wish list is more apt to include things that you might think are unattainable than what would be included on just a list of goals – and it is possible to make all things come true with some effort and desire. I apologize for bringing up an overused cliché but “think outside the box.” The author suggests to “write down activities that you long to do more of – things that make you happy, relaxed or sane (or all three).” She suggests ranking the items on your list in the order of importance to you and then picking the top one or two to focus on first – the rest you can come back to once you have had success with the first few.

Then she suggests keeping a diary of how you are currently spending your time. You may have already done this earlier in our process; Suzanne Neilson, our time management coach, suggested this last week. I believe this is really a good idea and maybe you will be motivated to keep the records more by the idea that this will help you have time for fun rather than helping you have more time to de-clutter…no one can say that de-cluttering is fun! Real Simple has some time diaries for three of their readers posted online ( You can compare your day against theirs to see if you are over or under scheduled!

The article cites Randy Pausch, author of The Last Lecture (Hyperion, 2008), professor at Carnegie Mellon University and father of three ( Sadly for Pausch, it took a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer to bring him to the realization of “how little time we spend doing the things we love most.” In his crusade to urge others to live every moment, Pausch adds, “the key question to keep asking is, ‘Are you spending your time on the right things? Because time is all you have.’” We should be able to change our behavior without having a fatal disease become our wake-up call. I think I told you about the time management coach who asked the question, “If you knew you only had three months to live, what would you change in your life?” And then he added this sobering reminder, “What makes you think you have three months?”

I will continue tomorrow with Step 2.


  1. Kerion has provided a link to where you can create a wish list to share with friends and family. Although, if you are decluttering, you may want your wish list to be made up of non-material things such as time to relax or the opportunity to start my own business. Dream big.


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