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A realistic strategy to optimize your free time

Whenever I have free time, whether it's a two-week vacation or just a free Sunday, I whip out my mental list of twenty-seven backlogged things I want to learn and do. It's about time I read every single page of those photography books, isn't it? And what about actually learning to knit well? And I want to learn to code at some point. And I need to do a bunch of blog planning and writing.

But here's the thing: I'm a busy girl. I'm used to having no free time. I'm used to having to cram 3 hours of studying into two hours, staying up far too late, surviving in a constant state of slightly-rushed-ness. I'm tired. So when I do get a vacation day? This is how it ends up going:

Collapse onto couch. With laptop. And snack. 

Move as little as possible. 

This does not bode will for my big aspirations. And since I do have so many things I want to, I always get frustrated with myself for not doing them all. Even if I do some of them (a reasonable amount!) I still feel like time is being wasted. For example, I just came back from spring break, and I didn't do everything that I wanted to do. I did some picture taking and some reading and some fun things. But I also did quite a lot of nothing. Why does that make me so mad?




Well, if you're like me and detest being lazy even though it always seems to happen, I think we've gotta change our mindset. Because right now it's not doing a whole lot for us, besides making us feel bad about ourselves.

Focus on the things you do 

Look at your vacations/ free time/ life in general in terms of the things you do, not the things you didn't have time for. And when I say 'things I do' I don't just mean the things you crossed off your long-as-heck to do list. I also mean the things you didn't expect and didn't plan for: the baking and lunching with friends and reading insightful blogs and going to concerts. And the lying on couches and being completely at ease.

It's not wasted time 

The only reason we feel sluggish and disappointed and like we're wasting time is because free time is such a contrast to our busy, everyday lives. It's hard to transfer your brain from "oh my gosh I have no time, I need to finish my homework RIGHT NOW and go write a blog" to "it's okay if I do nothing right now" because they're on completely different ends of the spectrum. You're not actually wasting time, girl. Free time/vacation is just a different kind of time. A kind that you can fill with whatever you want and you don't have to feel guilty about it.

What would you do on a day with no responsibilities? 

I was talking to someone about my aversion to wasting time today, and they responded with, "well, what would you do if you had no responsibilities at all? If you weren't allowed to do any work or research or further your goals for a day-- if it was just about enjoying your time?" This was fun for me to think about, because while I'm a master-plan-maker, I do not usually plan these types of things. I guess I'd watch movies and sit on benches and read books and aimlessly take photos. I'd go downtown with my friends. I'd sleep in late. And then he responded with, 'so, is that wasting time?"

Na. I don't think so. I don't think it has to be.


How to optimize your free time: Find a balance between complete chill, fun things, and goal-reaching.

The way I see it, there are three ways you could spend your time when you've got more than usual of it:

1. Complete chill

 This is the sitting in your bed, eating Nilla wafers and watching Netflix kind of relaxing. It's the kind you crave and dream about when you're busy-as-heck and in need of a break. But what I've discovered is that there is only a limited amount of this that you can do before you start to feel like a mashed potato. So, try to balance it with a bit of the other two:

2. Fun things 

This is pretty self explanatory. Do fun things that feel like things (rather than complete nothing). Going places, meeting up with friends, doodling or writing with absolutely no stress and no expectation of being good, laughing a lot. This is the most enjoyable type of vacation activity, honestly. This is the stuff that turns into memories.

3. Goal-reaching 

Goal-reaching stuff is what I always plan to spend 100% of my vacation doing: blogging, practicing photography, exercising, reading boring books, learning stuff that's hard to learn. And then I inevitably fail at getting it all done and feel kinda crummy. 


I've had my fair share of frustrating vacations, but while I was flying back to school on Sunday I think I cracked the code. The next time you're on vacation or have a free day, don't make a list of twenty things you need to get done in order to further your life and achieve your goals...

Pick one or two of those things, but then add some fun things and completely chill things to your list, too. That way you'll be able to be proud of yourself for actually accomplishing the things you wrote down, won't feel like a potato, and will actually be able to *gasp* relax at the same time. Because let's be real, that's what vacation is really for.

♡Julia

19 comments

  1. I love this post infinitely much - it basically sums up how I feel any time I get free time to myself and I end up watching YouTube videos instead of working on my blog! Thank you for writing this, because now whenever I feel upset I'm not devoting all of my time to #3, I can be thankful that I have time to devote to #1 and/or #2. :)
    - katrina // Yours Truly, Katrina

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    1. Exactly, Katrina! Thanks for reading, and I'm glad you liked it. :)

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  2. I'm one of those girls who hates "wasting her time", but you're totally right, time's not wasted. Truth be told we need spare time sometimes, just lying on the couch reading and having a warm cup of tea. This was a fun post to read, thanks for sharing :)

    Brooks | Live. Laugh. Love. & Make Up

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    1. Thanks for reading! And exactly, lying on the couch with a cup of tea sounds so nice right now :)

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  3. I love how you talked about chill time not being wasted time, I have trouble not feeling guilty about switching off because I feel like it's so encouraged nowadays to be a 'girl boss' and just work your ass off, but sometimes I need to just relax and I don't want to feel guilty about that!

    Julia // The Sunday Mode

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    1. This is so true-- working hard is really 'cool' these days. And while I think that's a good thing in many ways, it also makes people feel weak for needing to take a break or getting burnt out. But self care is most important!

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  4. Lovely post really like your style of writing. My free time is coming to an end as I'm about to push my first baby out.. :-D Love the look of your blog too btw very clean. Thank you so much for sharing this with us! Dominica from London, www.its-dominica.blogspot.co.uk xXx

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    1. Aw congrats on having a baby soon! That's so exciting. And thank you so much, Dominica :)

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  5. Love how simple this is! I always fall into the bad habit of thinking that relaxing time or aimless time is a bit of a waste of time even though I know it's important, but you're right it's so so so worthwhile

    - Natalie
    www.workovereasy.com

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    1. That's what I often catch myself thinking too. It's important to remember we need it, though! Thanks for reading Natalie :)

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  6. I totally agree how chill time isn't always wasted time! Thanks for sharing this :)

    http://www.myclusterofthoughts.com/

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  7. Really enjoyed reading this! It's always about getting that balance, and trying not to overload ourselves. Like you said, a lot of us tend to focus on the things we haven't done as opposed to the things we have, which is really unhelpful. A shift in focus is also the key to feeling (and being) productive.

    -Alicia x

    www.serenitylifeblog.com | Lifestyle & Advice

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    1. That's so true! I definitely think a change in focus is a big part to feeling productive. Thanks for reading Alicia!

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  8. This is such a great and helpful post! I love how good your tips are. I have to admit that I do feel quite guilty sometimes when I end up having a lazy day. I just feel like I wasted a good day and was unproductive. So I need to learn how to optimize my time a but to not feel guilty at those days :)

    -Leta | The Nerdy Me

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    1. I totally agree--- A big part of feeling productive is not beating yourself up when you aren't productive. If that makes sense hahah. Thanks for reading, Leta!

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  9. Like you on my free time I like to do literally nothing all day and I know it's bad but I can't help it! I waste it on movies when I could be working on my blog and be productive. Thanks for all these tips!

    Reine | Sincerely Reine

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    1. I do exactly the same thine, Reine! I know we feel bad about it, but it really is totally normal and we kinda need time like that! Thanks for reading, girl. :)

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  10. I loved this post, these are so helpful!

    Camila,
    My Vogue Style | www.myvoguestyle.com

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About me
I’m a 19-year old college student who’s still very much “in bluhm” (heh) but I’m figuring it out as I go, laptop in hand.
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