Have you ever woken up and wondered, “What did I do last night?” And no, I’m not talking about after a late night out with friends, but a run of the mill Wednesday night at home. Next thing you know, you’re back at your desk wondering where your time off went, and how you could be back at work already.
Now that you’ve had your coffee and some time to think, you do remember getting through four episodes of House of Cards last night. And catching up on all of the newest Instagram posts. And there was that enlightening Buzzfeed quiz that revealed what your favorite cheese is. We’ve all had nights like these. And sometimes they are beyond necessary!
But, if you feel like your week solely revolves around work, it might be time to change how you’re spending your after work time. You have all the tools the be productive at work, so why not at home?
Here’s some easy ways you can start making the most of your downtime, so you can come back to work the next day feeling rejuvenated and refreshed.
Reframe your mindset.
You’re too busy to hit the gym, take that Spanish class, or go visit Grandma, right? Wrong. At least according to Laura Vanderkam, author of 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think. Vanderkam called us all out on saying we’re “too busy” to start side gigs, take a class, or read a book. In fact, she believes we have plenty of time for everything that matters to us. “Think of it like this: if you work 40 hours a week and manage to get the recommended 8 hours of sleep a night, that leaves you with 72 hours when you’re not working.” That’s a ton of hours you can use however you like. Reframe your mindset from being too busy, to one of curiosity. If you’re wanting to take up a new hobby or project, remember that the hardest part is always getting started.
If this still feels impossible, consider reprioritizing what’s really important to you. According to Vanderkam, rather than saying you don’t have time and using that as an excuse to not do it, she suggests you use the phrase, “It’s not a priority.” Not only will you feel less guilty for saying no, but it will remind you what your priorities are. When you think in terms of priorities, you’re holding your time — and yourself — accountable. That may mean less happy hours, but you might become an expert at salsa dancing.
Make reading a priority.
We’ve all said we wish we had more time to read. It’s been at the top of all our resolution lists every January for the past 6 years. But if you count up how much time you spend each week watching TV, I bet there are a few hours you could swap Game of Thrones for Great Expectations. Shane Parrish of Farnum Street applies a similar argument to finding time to read. The good news? It’s not as hard as you think. “When I tell people I do have a life and I don’t speed read the question becomes: what’s your secret? How do you find more time to read than the average person? Well, first, there is no secret. As simple as it sounds, finding time to read boils down to choices about how you allocate your time.”
Seize the moment.
You can read a book a week. You can take a class or start a side hustle. You can learn a new skill every single day. You just have to want to do those things. You may have a job you absolutely love (yay!) that doesn’t make it feel like you’re just living for the weekend, but maybe you should live for the weekend and the weeknights, in another sense. Every hour you’re not at work — or doing chores — is an opportunity to pursue the things that excite you. And it’s a safe bet that by the time you roll into the office, you’ll feel pretty pleased with how you spent last night.