With the recent global increase in remote work, it’s become harder than ever to draw a strict line between work and play. Working from home might mean we don’t have physical separation of spaces. And even when we work in-office, it can be challenging to leave on time or forget about work once we’re home.
Hustle culture tells us we must be productive all the time. We can feel so pressured to get stuff done that even being sick can cause a sense of guilt. We’re taught to work quickly, and efficiently, and to continuously produce results, often at the sacrifice of our personal development and downtime.
If you’re often overwhelmed by your day-to-day schedule, spare time might feel like a foreign concept. This guide will explore how setting aside time for yourself can make you happier and more fulfilled, along with suggestions for things to do with your free time.
Why is free time important?
Leisure time is an important part of our mental health. Finding up to two hours of free time each day can significantly reduce stress and improve your general well-being.
In the United States, the average workday is 8.5 hours. But overworking and constantly being connected to email, group chats, or workflow apps might make you feel absorbed in tasks even when you’re off the clock. If you’re thinking about your to-do list after the workday ends, you’re not disconnecting.
The stress from limited free time contributes to overworking. And, overworking could lead to adverse health problems. Spending 55 or more hours a week working could increase your risk of a stroke or heart disease, depression, and unhealthy weight gain.
Don’t forget that work responsibilities aren’t the only things that occupy our time. On top of work, you have to manage chores at home, your relationships, and various other appointments or engagements. That time isn’t spent resting — it’s spent doing other forms of work.
If we aren’t properly resting, we risk increasing our stress and lowering our productivity. Going to work well-rested means we’ll deliver higher quality deliverables. This means we’ll also enjoy more satisfaction regarding our work performance.
Free time is also important for our sense of self-worth. When we enjoy tasks that we love, ones that aren’t also connected to other obligations like cooking for family or completing a work project, we remind ourselves that our wants, needs, and interests are valuable.
We can get in touch with our authentic selves and stay grounded, finding better work-life balance and mental well-being.
Developing a routine that allows for spare time is essential. Set limits at work, don’t stretch yourself too thin with projects and responsibilities, and build a routine that prioritizes all types of rest.