Face it, regardless of how busy you are, you have moments of “free time” in your day.
It might only be five minutes before your next appointment or while you are waiting in line, but these little gems of time exist.
Are you leveraging them to your advantage or are you just frittering them away?
The Truth About Spare Time
Trust me, you have time.
Yes, some of your day is fixed and inflexible, but if you look closely there is likely more discretionary time in your day than you realize.
You are probably filling this time one way or another.
The question is, “Are you using your spare time wisely?”
I came across the quote below and it has really challenged me to think a little harder about how I use my spare time.
Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Discard them and their value will never be known. Improve them and they will become the brightest gems in a useful life.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
You see, I think it is very easy to cast away these little slivers of spare time that pop up in our day.
I’ll admit, I’m guilty of casting them aside. When these uncut diamonds appear, I often think things like:
- There’s no use starting that, because I won’t be able to finish it.
- I don’t have time to accomplish anything meaningful so, I’ll wait.
- I can’t get entangled in that right now.
I carelessly discard my time and it costs me. The value of these lost moments will never be known.
Do you do the same thing? If you do, then hopefully I’ve given you a wake-up call just like Mr. Emerson gave me.
How to Improve the Use of Your Spare Time
So, how do you improve the use of your spare moments so they become the brightest gems in a useful life?
Here are some suggestions I believe will help.
1. Learn to Recognize a Diamond in the Rough
When I embarked on a personal economic recovery, I looked at my finances and failed to see how I could possibly scrape together a few hundred extra dollars per month to pay off the debt I owed. In the same way, I think we often look at our days and fail to see any spare time.
You may feel stretched to the limit already. If so, you likely believe your spare moments are far and few between.
However, I bet that if you look more closely, you’ll find some diamonds in the rough.
The way I found money in my budget was to start closely tracking how I spent what I had. This revealed to me a LOT of waste. I was spending too much every month on non-essential items.
I’d challenge you to track how you are spending your day. You might be amazed at just how much time you can recover if you put your mind to it.
2. Get Your Priorities Right
Of course, as I said earlier, you are probably filling your spare moments one way or another right now. Your goal is to make better use of these little gems. To do this, you have to get your priorities right. You must learn the value of focus.
As you track your time, you need to identify the blocks that you control no matter their size – big or small. Be honest with yourself. Don’t say that it’s something you HAD to do when it is really something you are choosing to do. Also, be open-minded about alternative ways to accomplish the same task in a different way that is more time-friendly.
Additionally, you need to separate the good from the great. An activity might not be bad, but it might not be the BEST use of your time either. Be disciplined enough to make the tough choices.
What are your true priorities? What — if you spent more time at it — would have the biggest payoff in your life?
Realign how you spend every spare moment of your day – no matter how small these are – toward working on this one most important priority.
3. Be Prepared
In order for this to work, you must be prepared.
Keep a small notebook with you all the time. When an idea or task comes to mind, related to your one most important priority, put it in the notebook. Do not rely on your memory because it is less efficient than keeping an actual list.
When you have a spare moment in your day, refer to your list and immediately work on one of the priority items.
This level of preparation will ensure you maximize the use of your spare moments.
4. Know the Difference Between Recreation and Wasted Time
Now let me clarify one thing, using some of your spare time for recreation is valuable. You cannot discount this. You must take care of yourself or you will run down and burnout.
There is a difference between recreation and wasted time. Recreation leads to refreshment and recuperation. It feeds your mind, body and soul.
Choose your recreation wisely. Seek out high-leverage activities that give you the most bang for the time spent. Avoid mindless, negative, distracting time-wasters.
5. Adopt a Long Range Perspective
Finally, understand that long-term thinking is your greatest ally in achieving success in your life.
You may not be able to find a lot of spare time. However, even slow progress toward an important goal is better than no progress at all.
If you adopt a long-term perspective and apply the techniques I’ve described here, you’ll soon find that whatever spare moments you have are the brightest gems in your life. Now, go use your spare time wisely!