Sunday morning. No work today. So you decide to sleep a bit longer and get up at 10am. You slowly prepare breakfast, get a cup of coffee, and spend an hour eating and browsing social media. It’s almost noon, so you start making lunch. Eat again. Go for a walk and then grab a coffee with your best friend. It’s 7pm, so you lazily eat the leftovers from lunch and drop in front of the TV and a couple of hours later go to bed.
It was a free day. An opportunity to relax, to pursue your hobbies, to feel great. And yet. Somehow it doesn’t feel great. You wake up on Monday morning tired, with no energy, and no enthusiasm. What went wrong?
How many of us ever had a day like this? Have you ever wondered why you can feel dissatisfied not only with your job but also with your so-called free time? How come some of us don’t have this problem? It is all about purpose.
Rituals and consistency work
It may sound a bit counterintuitive, but you need to plan even your free time. You spend the whole work week planning the tasks you do for your employer. Your calendar is the master of your life. What is not on the schedule doesn’t happen. So when the weekend comes, it feels great that you can finally do whatever you want and not what your calendar says you need to do. And you do nothing.
For many people, the sudden switch at the end of the week from order to anarchy just doesn’t work. So why to do it? Why not continue planning and scheduling even your weekends? Who says that scheduled fun is any less enjoyable than unscheduled one?
Isn’t it so much better to have a plan? Just imagine how different the hypothetical Sunday would look like if you scheduled a gym for 10am, booked 2 hours of your favorite hobby at 2pm and the coffee with your best friend at 4pm and a movie with your teammates or reading of your favorite book at 8pm?
You would wake up on Monday morning feeling great. You had a great Sunday with a bunch of enjoyable activities. It felt reasonably busy, but not too busy. It felt like you are alive.
If you have your rituals and a consistent way to plan your workweek, it is natural to transfer it also to your weekends. You will get most of your free time and your transition back to work will be seamless.
Implicitly saying no to distractions
Why does scheduling your free time work? Because you are not only scheduling things that are important to you into your calendar. You are also implicitly scheduling unimportant things out. There is no time to waste hours on social media or in front of a TV.
Cal Newport talks about this topic in his book Deep Work. He states that if you want to achieve something meaningful in life and feel satisfied with how you live, you need to spend more time on meaningful activities and remove as many distractions from your life as possible. The most natural way to eliminate distractions is to schedule your time.
When finishing the scheduled things, you did what you know is important to you, and you avoided time wasters. Your subconscious knows you did the right thing, and rewards you with a great feeling. You don’t feel guilty about wasting your time on this Earth. You don’t feel depressed about having a meaningless life.
Scheduling free time forces you to do the right thing
Many of us have a different definition of what fun is. Sometimes the things that our conscious mind tell us are not fun, our subconscious mind knows they are the things we should do as we will regret later on if we don’t. Typically, these would be things that are a bit out of our comfort zone.
You may decide to exercise more. You have a free weekend in front of you. You know you should spend some time going for a run. But since you are just starting it is not particularly fun. You know it will be tough, and you come back exhausted. So you find ways how not to do it. On Sunday evening, you then say to yourself that you didn’t have time to exercise, and you feel bad.
If you schedule your run, and maybe even agree with a friend to go for a run together, you will force yourself to do it. And you will have fun. And you will be happy and satisfied with yourself. You will feel good.
Even though scheduling your fun time may not sound like much fun, it is a great way to get the most satisfaction and happiness from your free time. If you learn to do this, you will soon realize that you are not only looking forward to the weekends, which you probably do anyway, but you will also have a great feeling when the weekend is over. You won’t feel like you are wasting your life, and you will not dread coming back to the office.
So when the next weekend approaches, sit down and consider what things in your life are truly important to you. Do you want to get in better shape? Do you feel you need to spend more time with your family? Do you want to try something new? Do you like helping others? Whatever it is that is important for you to feel like you are living a good life, make sure you schedule it into your weekends.
Photo: janka00simka0 / Pixabay.com