Does it feel as if you have too much free time right now? Considering how many people regularly complain about not having enough free time, you wouldn’t think that it’s possible to have too much. However, many of us find that a life without time limits is more challenging than we ever thought it could be.
Free time is most enjoyable when it’s consumed in finite quantities, much like chocolate. Or alcohol. And when you combine retirement with lockdown, you might need to make a conscious effort to use all that free time more constructively so that you don't end up feeling aimless and dissatisfied.
Here are a few things you could try...
- Appreciate it. It’s a blessing to have a lot of free time. Remind yourself of all those times you wished for more free time when you were still working. If you find you have unlimited free time right now, appreciate it and be determined to make the most of it. You can accomplish a lot right now if you take full advantage of the situation.
2. Realize that it won’t last. Reminding yourself that this period won’t last forever might be a relief. It’s also a wakeup call to get busy and use this unusual situation to the best of your ability.
3. Ask yourself how the time could best be spent. Literally ask yourself, “What is the best way for me to use all of this free time?” Ask yourself that question periodically throughout the day and take note of your answers.
Another question (and one that I'm asking myself a lot at the moment) is: "How could I improve my life right now?". It's amazing how the simplest little improvements can uplift your mood and give you a sense of achievement. The long-overdue application of a little WD40 to the squeaky hinges on two doors this morning gave me a buzz that lasted until lunchtime. A very minor achievement, I'm sure you'll agree but the squeaky hinges indicated that, for too long, I had been tolerating a situation that needed attention - and now I'm not. I can cross it off my mental list of things to do.
What are you currently tolerating? Could you use this time to fix your own 'squeaky hinges'?
4. Indulge your interests. Now is the time to explore and do those things you’ve always wanted to do. Learn to ride a motorcycle or play the piano. Write a novel. Put a pond in your garden. Learn about the birds in your part of the world. Learn woodworking. Plant something.
5. Focus on self-care. Having too much time on your hands makes it easy to become lazy. Why take a shower if you’re not going anywhere for several days? Why cook from scratch when you can just get a frozen pizza out of the freezer? It’s important to make sure you stay on top of your self-care, though. This means getting enough sleep, bathing, exercising, eating properly, and being kind to yourself.
6. Do that thing that you always put off. Everyone has that thing they never seem to get around to doing. Maybe the house needs new gutters. Or the attic needs to be cleaned out. Or maybe you’ve sworn for years that you were going to train for a marathon. (No excuses - my dad was still running marathons well into his seventies!) Now is your opportunity!
7. Make a plan each day. Decide what you want to accomplish today and stick to your schedule. Give yourself a few hours at the end of the day to do as you please but be productive with the bulk of your day. You’ll feel better, accomplish more, and avoid feeling frustrated with yourself.
If you’re overwhelmed with the amount of free time you have available to you, remember that it won’t last forever. Before long, you’ll be back to wishing you had some of that free time back.
Take advantage of this unique situation. You’re unlikely to have a similar amount of free time until you’re older - at which point, you might not be physically or intellectually capable of doing many of the things you can do now.
Seize the day!