It's been a solid six months since I lasted updated the Injection of Inspiration blog (partly due to being busy and partly due to pure laziness). I've been delivering weekly injections of inspiration on my YouTube channel if you want to check those out, but what prompted me to want to write this in particular is because I have a three-day weekend thanks to President's Day. And it's been a blast.
From all the articles I write to school stuff (I'm nearing the end of my college career believe it or not), very rarely do I have free time on my hands, and even when I do, I try to use it effectively. That brings me to the topic of today's blog. I often find whenever people are presented with free time, they don't know how to spend it, or at least wisely. Years ago, I wrote about my own experiences with time management upon coming to college, but this blog will be a bit broader in terms of five things you can do to fill the free time. Soon you'll find that the day will fly by quicker than you thought it would.
Relax and Recharge Your Batteries
First and foremost, if you've had a lot going on recently and have been stretching yourself too thin, you need to take a step back and just relax. Everyone's bodies are different, but you can only go so hard for so long before your body begins to break down on you. You may not feel the effects at this very moment, but you will later in life, so take care of your body now by allowing yourself to rest and relax, even if it's briefly.
There are a million and one ways to accomplish this, but it mainly depends on your interests. Most people will turn to television, sit down on the couch, and watch a few episodes of their favorite show. Others will take a nap or go to sleep earlier (I strongly recommend the latter; just because you're off tomorrow doesn't necessarily mean you should stay up late). Bottom line, do whatever helps you recharge your batteries.
All I'll suggest is that you don't do this for too long. Take it easy, of course, but if you spend your entire day doing nothing but watching TV, binge-watching something on Netflix, or playing video games, you're missing out on a ton of other stuff. Take the time to try new things that you wouldn't normally be able to do, because quite frankly, you can watch TV any time you get home from work or school. Once your body is back at 100 percent, you'll know.
Catch Up on Uncompleted Tasks
From what I've seen, the top cause of stress is allowing uncompleted tasks pile up, and when it comes time to do them all, you feel overwhelmed and either end up getting nothing done or sloppily rush through them. Isn't it weird we wait until the most inopportune times to accomplish tasks? You probably want to spend that extra day off just hanging out, and you can, but even if it's only for an hour or two, take the time to look at what still needs to be done.
Personally, and I'm just strange like this, but I feel a great sense of satisfaction whenever I cross something off my "To Do/Reminders" list on my iPhone. And I guess I should mention that as well. If you're an extremely unorganized person, it will much easier for you to get stuff done when you have an actual list of what needs to get done. It may seem like a lot at first, but once you complete a certain task, you'll begin building momentum and then you're on a roll.
My point is that you may not be able to complete these tasks during the course of the week when you're focused on work, school, family, friends and everything else. The more time you ignore it, the more stress you'll ultimately cause yourself. Taking a day out of your three-day weekend/vacation to knock off at least a few of these things will bring you an amazing amount of internal pleasure knowing there's a lot less to worry about when the work week starts up again.
Get Ahead of the Game
This kind of goes along with the previous selection, but it's a bit different. In addition to completing tasks that have been piling up for a few days/weeks, why not get ahead of the game while you have the free time to do so? Okay, so it might feel like you're doing work when you're supposed to be off and that doesn't sound appealing at all, but I'm not saying you should do everything that you normally do during the course of the week. Doing a small portion of the work you have planned for the week ahead goes a long way.
For example, if you're in college like me, you probably already know what you have due for the coming week. In addition to doing what you're supposed to do with the homework due Tuesday, it would be wise to set some time aside to do the homework (or at least part of it) that's due on Wednesday, or possibly Thursday as well. This way, you're not scrambling to get it done the night before, you're not stressed out, and most importantly, you'll have that free time later on to do whatever you want!
Again, an ample amount of the stress we experience on a daily basis stems from worrying about what's coming up instead of living in the moment. Of course, there will always be things coming our way, both expected and unexpected. You can't plan for the unexpected, but to get the expected tasks out of the way before they even arrive puts you ahead of the game and allows you to better prepare for the unexpected tasks if they are to occur.
Spend Time with Friends and Family
The primary purpose of this article is to show that there are ways to effectively utilize your free time without spending money. For this selection, you might have to dish out a little cash while bonding with friends and family, and that's completely okay. This could include going to a good movie, going out to dinner, going to dinner, etc. But it's also entirely possible to hang out with the people in your life you care about the most without having to spend money.
It could be something as simple talking to someone a little longer than you normally would. I put aside some time every night to talk to my girlfriend, and during long weekends, I can stay for a while. Before I called her last night, I rang up my dad, who I hadn't talked to in over two weeks and spent a half hour on the phone talking to him. Our schedules are so radically different during the week it's hard to catch him then, but on a Sunday evening when I have free time, it's definitely doable.
Or you can drive over to a relative's house who you haven't talked to or seen in some time and catch up on things. You'll enjoy yourself, but they'll appreciate it that much more. Whenever I'm home on break from college and I'm not working, I go to see my grandparents and spend time with them. There are occasions where I'll be free for a full night, so I'll stay longer and beat my grandma in a game of Uno or Sorry. I guess you could drink, too, but there are ways to kill time without having to consume alcohol.
Strengthening Your Mind and Body
I left this last selection open to interpretation for whatever it might mean to you. When I say strengthening your mind and body, several things should come to mind, but it's different for everyone depending on what you're interested in. Working out and/or going to the gym is an extremely valuable use of your free time, and it will make the time fly by, too. There are those whose work schedules are so hectic they can't even find time to fit in a workout. Well, a long weekend or extended vacation presents that opportunity for them.
If you aren't into that type of stuff, then going for a nice, relaxing walk is just as awesome. I'd prefer it to be a place where there aren't a ton of people around, but even if it's a beach or a boardwalk, nothing matches the feeling of experiencing nature and the world as a whole, breathing that fresh air and getting your body moving in the process. As I write this, it's the middle of February, so the weather outside might not be ideal, but in that case, just dress warmly! You have no excuse to not go for a jog or take a stroll.
Giving your mind a good workout is every bit as important in my opinion, and this can be done in a variety of ways. Writing is what I know best considering I constantly do it, but on my off-time, I write more than what I'm required to. I'll recall past experiences and write them down to ensure I don't forget them, or just record my thoughts in real time. I don't typically have time to do that during the week. Reading is another big one. In fact, I just finished reading 50 pages of a book I've had for the past month, got really into, and haven't cracked open since I got back to school. That was an enjoyable activity as well. There are many more ways for you to effectively utilize your free time, so find what drives you and maximize your off-days to the fullest.