On average, adults need 7-9 hours of sleep and work around 8 hours per day. This leaves approximately 8 more hours of free time. 8 hours. That is an entire working day after you finish your main hustle. You can fly from London to St. Lucia in 8 hours. You can attend 8 exercise classes in succession per night. You can also braise an entire lamb shoulder with chimichurri (I’ve linked the recipe, thank me later).
Anyway, you get the idea.
The question is, how are you going to utilise your daily hours of free time? I like to think of each of them as ‘units’ and plan my free time based on how many units an activity takes up. However, be sure not to overstretch yourself. Manage your expectations in order to maintain control and the feeling of productivity.
It’s proven that exercise releases endorphins, which in turn make you feel more energised, motivated and positive. Schedule in one hour of exercise after you finish work to mimic the effects of a morning workout. This will set you up for your ‘second’ day with a proactive mentality.
Network on social media
Okay now you’ve woken up, your mind is activated and you’re feeling the effects of that hit of dopamine. This is a perfect time to get some career work in. Have you ever found that you are ten-times more confident in reaching out to people on LinkedIn when you’re pumped? Whether that’s from feeling great after working out or you’re just simply feeling your outfit? I know I do. Spend half an hour on this.
Tap away at some freelance work
Now you’re in work mode. Take advantage of this mindspace by working on that extra freelance project you’ve been ‘too tired’ to look at after a full day of work. If you don’t have another job on the side, why don’t you continue to network and research for another half an hour. This is a great time to think about your current role and what you can do to progress either in the same position or in a different company. Freelance work is a great way to expand your portfolio. It’s flexible around your day job and often leads to even more work, which is perfect for that little black book of industry contacts you’re growing.
Right, it’s about 8pm. Start to wind down to bedtime by checking in with a hobby. Be that reading, sewing, knitting or watching TV. (Side note, don’t feel guilty about dedicating those full 8 hours on something relaxing – if your body or mind needs it, do it. It will only thank you later. The key is to not overdo it so neglect the other things you need to get done.)
Mixing a couple or a few of these options per night is a great way to spice up your week. Studies have found that routine can actually hinder the brain’s ability to attain knowledge and in fact, adding variety to the day can help you retain more information and improve general efficiency. Not only that, but learning to compartmentalise can also improve focus, drive and efficiency. What’s not to love? Get that diary booked up.
Words by Joanna Standley