Free time is something that everyone encounters now and then. Whether it’s an hour you have to kill while waiting for a client to message you back or a meeting that you arrived at 30 minutes earlier, you might find yourself wanting to burn a little time.
The way you spend your free time can have a huge impact on your life. Successful individuals and entrepreneurs spend their free time by educating themselves via reading, watching videos or taking extra college courses, athletes like to spend free time exercising and learning about nutrition so that their bodies are optimised for the sport they specialise in, and artists spend their free time gathering inspiration from other artists and nature.
In some ways, the way you decide to use your spare time can define who you are as a person. If you love to learn new skills and constantly find yourself studying, then people will see you as a reliable, tough-working individual that never sleeps. If you play a lot of video games but you still manage to get your work done, people might see you as a relaxed individual that can get the job done but at a leisurely pace.
But I don’t want to procrastinate – that’s bad!
Procrastination is often seen as a devil that prevents us from getting anywhere in life. If you find yourself doing nothing productive or browsing through YouTube videos about cats and dogs on a regular basis, then you’ll be glad to know that you aren’t actually wasting time. Procrastination can, as silly as it sounds, be productive.
Contrary to what many people think, procrastination is something unavoidable unless you have the patience and focus of a genius. It actually helps us unwind and relax during stressful periods of time. Think back to any time you had a looming deadline that you managed to just scrape by and meet. You might think back and tell yourself “I really should have worked harder from the beginning so I could relax afterwards and feel less stressed out”, but you might not realise that you did relax, you just did it in a different order.
Relaxing is a good way to prepare ourselves for something stressful or to reduce our anxiety about something. With a clear mind, we’re able to focus properly and mentally prepare our brains to get into a productive mood. When you wake up, you don’t instantly jump into a working mood. When you arrive at work, you don’t instantly throw down your bags and sit down at the computer to being the day. Instead, you might talk to some colleagues, get a fresh cup of coffee or even stretch a little.
So next time you find yourself procrastinating, don’t hate yourself. Smile and realise that you’re relaxing in the calm before the storm.
So how can I productively procrastinate?
If the thought of relaxing yourself isn’t enough, then there are some efficient ways to spend your time procrastinating.
For example, we often think of binge watching videos as a wasteful pastime. However, not many people realise that the video itself is the wasteful thing, not the act of watching it. If you were watching a lecture about astrophysics, then no one could say that you’re wasting your time even if you don’t have a job related to science. In other words, vary what you watch. Don’t just watch cat and dog videos or the latest internet memes, throw in something educational such as a video about science, maths, a guide related to your hobbies, or perhaps even a debate video.
Thanks to the incredible number of technological advances, you can even watch some productive videos when you’re away from a computer. Your phone or tablet device is capable of connecting to YouTube and other video platforms where there’s an almost unlimited amount of content available. If YouTube content doesn’t appeal to you, then you can subscribe to a service like Lynda where you can find thousands of videos by professional lecturers and industry experts on various subjects.
There’s a whole world of educational content to explore. So whether you want to brush up on your knowledge about a topic to impress someone at work, or if you want to learn how to paint and draw, there are videos out there that will teach you everything you need to know.
But I want to do something fun!
Many people would argue that learning a new skill is fun, but if that’s not for you then playing a game is as productive as learning something as long as you are relaxing and unwinding.
Many video games can act as stress relief. Gamer demographics are almost even, with roughly 55% of gamers around the world male and the other 45% female. It has been suggested that even violent video games can reduce stress when the player is placed in the shoes of the “bad guy” because it helps to manage your mood. Another study at the University College in London found that there was a correlation between the number of hours spent playing violent video games and the speed at which someone recovered from work-related stress.
Because video games are so good at reducing your stress, they can be used as effective measures against stress and anxiety building up before a big event or a tight deadline. It might sound counterproductive to be at home playing video games when you have an exam or work deadline coming up, but the amount of stress it can wipe away is worth it so that you can focus on your work afterwards with fewer distractions.
If you prefer not to play violent video games, then you could always play something more grown-up. A trip to the CasinoUK website could melt your stress away with its wide variety of casino games that can be played both for fun and money. Just remember not to spend too much—the idea is to reduce stress, not increase it! You could also play simple mobile games such as Candy Crush which aren’t violent, don’t require money and are great distractions you can play while on a crowded bus or stuffy train.
So next time you have a moment to spare, or if you’ve got a deadline coming up that demands your attention, unwind with a bit of gaming and relax before you get ready to work. You’ll find that it will help to clear your mind and make working under pressure a lot easier to manage.
But I’m an active person, I don’t want to sit around!
Most of the pastimes mentioned so far involve sitting down or standing up, but not so much moving around. If you’re an active person, then perhaps you’d prefer to exercise a little while you have time to spare.
It’s important for everyone to work their hearts a couple of times a week. You can do this via simple methods, such as briskly walking up and down a flight of stairs, jogging or walking to the store instead of taking a car or biking to work instead of taking public transport. However, sometimes it’s just not possible to incorporate exercise into our daily lives, and we either have to dedicate some time during the evening to exercise or completely omit it from our lives.
However, a couple of minutes each day isn’t much. For example, if you find yourself with an hour to spare before a meeting at the office, go outside and take a brisk walk around the block or to a distant coffee shop. It doesn’t sound much, but walking a bit more each day is a simple way to improve your heart. If you need to take a break from the office, then take the stairs instead of using the elevator. It will improve your physical health but also do wonders for your mental health.
If you want to take your fitness more seriously, then try to dedicate at least half an hour on the weekend or evening. If you manage to stick to a schedule, then not only will you see consistent improvements to your health and body, but you’ll also learn discipline by sticking to a regular schedule or routine. You’ll build muscles, improve your stamina, look great, and feel great. Exercise is one of the most effective ways to zone out of a stressful day and recover yourself mentally. If you follow it with a warm shower, you’ll feel completely rejuvenated and ready to take on any challenge thrown at you.
These are just some of the most productive ways to spend your free time. While these might not be for everyone, the important thing to remember is that anything you do is productive.
Procrastination can get out of hand, but the way people describe it as a “killer” of productivity is greatly exaggerated. If you find yourself unable to finish a task or that you can’t muster up the motivation to continue working, then something else is affecting your ability to work. It could be a dislike for your job, or it could be underlying anxiety and stress issues. Either way, don’t knock procrastination as a demon that has to be vanquished. Embrace it as a way to unwind before a stressful activity, or use it as a way to relax after the storm has passed.