7 Ways to Use Your Down Time More Effectively

Most of us are running around like headless chickens, juggling a variety of must do, want to do and like to do tasks ,feeling that we never have a moment. “if only we had more time” we lament.

James Wallman, author of ‘Time and How to Spend it Well” actually believes we are time rich. “The stark, shocking truth is that we actually have loads of time. We have more leisure time today than ever. On average between 36-40 hours a week. Time is precious. Just as with money time can be spent, saved, wasted and given away” says Wallman.

At work we tend to structure our day and prioritise our time but we are not so organised at home. Hours can disappear scrolling through phones, lying comatose on the sofa half watching mediocre TV - time slips away while we are often on autopilot and before we know it, it’s Monday morning again with very little to show for our weekends achievements.

Wallman believes that we can use our ‘down’ time much more effectively and based on research studies from Cornell, Cambridge, Harvard and LSE he has come up with 7 points to help get ‘more pleasure from our leisure’.

Reframe Your Story

We are all bombarded with love stories and are led to believe that ‘sex sells’ but the story most likely to resonate with people is The Heroines Journey - you are challenged, muster resources, then win the day - think Game of Thrones. Thinking of yourself as the heroine on a journey helps because it reframes your failures and setbacks as part of the process. Say yes to new experiences that challenge you.

Know You Are Growing

We all love to think that we are working towards our true potential. Try learning new skills or developing existing ones - cooking, adult education, sport…

Go Offline And Outside

According to Wallman “scrolling is the junk food of life, habit forming just like gambling”. Recent findings strongly suggest that we all benefit mentally and physically when we disconnect from digital distractions so get offline and go outside. If you can, have digital free weekends, if that’s too ‘cold turkey’ make more use of airplane mode, do not disturb and ‘out of office’. It’s a beautiful world out there go and explore.

Get Close To People

Connecting with others brings us a great sense of well-being and belonging. Join clubs, societies. Meet up with friends and family and organise activities together.

Find Your Flow

We all fantasise about lolling around, drink in hand doing absolutely nothing and while we all need that total ‘zone out’ sometimes all evidence suggests that to really enjoy something it needs our full attention, we need to be fully engaged and ‘in the flow’.

Make Your Life A Masterpiece

When looking back at photos it is those special times that create the best memories, so plan to recreate those ‘snapshot’ moments. The mundane can be  made special with a little thought - need to work off those extra pounds, swop the treadmill for a run along the beach instead. Wallman suggests taking more frequent but shorter holidays and regularly planning outings. He believes the best experiences start with a bang - make the journey special or head straight to an awe-awe-inspiring site. Plan in new or unusual moments during the holiday and then end gently giving you time to reflect and remember,

What You Do Must Matter

We all need to feel that what we do makes a difference whether in our own family or in our wider circle of friends, work and community. Wallman redefines seeking status saying we crave ‘significance’ or ‘warm-hearted success’ and that includes helping others, too. He uses Oprah and the $400million she has donated to female education as an example. “This kind of success is not about getting and having, its more about getting and giving”. We may not have Oprahs resources but we all have something valuable to give even if it’s just a little of our newly acquired ‘extra’ time.