3 Simple Ways to Free Up More Time for Yourself This Summer

by Henrik Edberg

Image by muha… (license).

“Don’t be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as you make use of. One man gets only a week’s value out of a year while another man gets a full year’s value out of a week.”
Charles Richards

“A well-spent day brings happy sleep.
Leonardo Da Vinci

One thing many of us want is simply to free up time so we can do more of what we really want to do.

Here are three simple tips that have enabled me to find more time for myself to do so. And since I have a lot to do this summer I will apply them even more diligently than usual. I hope you will find these three tips helpful too to get more time out in the sun, to work on your book or blog, to play some Frisbee or just relax and take it easy.

1. Find out where your time is really going.

This is like when you are trying to lose fat. It’s very easy to fool yourself and think you are doing “pretty good” when you in actually are not doing really that good. Thinking that you are doing “pretty good” won’t get you’re the results you want though. Actually doing what is needed gives you the results you want.

An easy way to stop fooling yourself in both cases is to use a log. If you are trying to lose fat, use Fitday.com to keep and eye on how much you are really eating.

If you want to find out where your time in a normal day or week are going create a simple time log in a Word-document or something similar and simply type down notes about everything you are doing.

I have for example found that I have spent too much time on social networks like Facebook over the last few months. I will cut that stuff down to a minimum to be able to have more time to relax and rejuvenate. And to keep up with the writing on this blog and other important stuff.

2. Realise that you don’t have to do everything you do.

And that the sky might not fall if you do/don’t do something. One thing that’s stopping people from improving themselves or just finding time for themselves is all the things they ”have” to do. You don’t really have to do anything.

Try to look at it as you choosing what to do instead.

Of course, if you choose to do or not to do something there will be consequences. Sometimes big, sometimes small. Sometimes bad, sometimes good. Sometimes one thing disguised as the opposite. :)

But the point is to take control of your life and feel like you choose. Instead of having your world choosing and controlling your life. This makes it easier to find out what isn’t really that important and eliminate or reduce to free up time for more interesting things.

3. Show up and just do it.

When you have found out what you are actually doing with your time and let go of some of the things you “had to do” then show up and just do the rest.

Instead of procrastinating, instead of thinking, instead of hoping someone else will do it or take an initiative, instead of rationalizing and inventing excuses for not doing something establish the habit of just doing it.

Most of the time you need to do it anyway sometime in the future and until you are more or less forced you’ll just waste a lot of time procrastinating and thinking – and feeling bad – about having to do whatever you need to do. And if you wait for someone else to do something about it can take a lot of time before someone does so. Establishing this habit can be a bit difficult if you are used to thinking – or over thinking – a lot.

One useful way that I’ve found to develop this habit is simply to not identify so much with my thoughts and emotions and realize that I can control them instead of the other way around. I still think you should think a bit. But after that it’s most often just better to go and do whatever you want to do.

What is your best tip for freeing up more time for yourself?

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Srinivas Rao June 23, 2009 at 9:42 pm

Love it. Simple advice that’s straight to the point. Even though I’m unemployed I still have to manage my blogging time, and I installed an application called slife to figure out how I’m managing my time. I realized that my total writing time is about 2.7 hours a week and by doing all my writing in one sitting or two, I can distribute my time much better.

Henrik Edberg June 26, 2009 at 12:13 pm

Thanks! Doing all the writing in one sitting or two is a great way to find more time for yourself, although not always easy to do.

Lisis June 23, 2009 at 9:45 pm

Hi, Henrik!

The biggest one for me is your #2… realizing that an awful lot of the stuff on my list doesn’t actually NEED to be there. I constantly have to re-center myself, reminding myself of what I value most. When I know what is important to me, then I can determine which activities need to stay and which can be discarded.

I guess one of the things I do then is make time to relax so I can focus on what matters. :)

Henrik Edberg June 26, 2009 at 12:14 pm

Yeah, it’s not always easy to stay on track with that, I need lots of written down reminders to do so.

Vi | Maximizing Utility June 23, 2009 at 10:05 pm

I relate most with #2. I let things go. It’s not a big deal if the dishes don’t get done or I leave the office without cleaning my coffee mug. Sure, the consequences are not nice — a messy kitchen or a dirty coffee mug in the morning, but it’s not the end of the world. It’s not a big deal.

One tip that may help some people is to schedule your fun time. Put watching TV or reading a book or relaxing by the pool on your calendar.

Henrik Edberg June 26, 2009 at 12:15 pm

Good tip about scheduling your fun time, thanks for sharing that one!

Positively Present June 23, 2009 at 10:42 pm

Wonderful advice here. I love #2 because I try to do so many things and many of them I don’t NEED to be doing. These are great tips that will definitely make my summer more enjoyable!

Henrik Edberg June 26, 2009 at 12:16 pm

Thank you, have a great summer! :)

Maypod June 24, 2009 at 3:40 am

#2 rings true for me. I,d like to add to it by saying don,t make everything out to be a problem. That is, when new or unpredicted situations come up (and they ALWAYS do) try not to get hung up on them, roll with it and it will get taken care of ONLY at the right time.

At least for me, it has freed up more time to enjoy new music and start sketching again.

Thanks for this entry…please do keep up with blogging.

Henrik Edberg June 26, 2009 at 12:17 pm

Thank you for sharing how you have found more time. And yes, I will keep it up. :)

Aida Tanchoco June 24, 2009 at 5:32 am

I like it that I posted it at my site and share it at my friends at twitter

Henrik Edberg June 26, 2009 at 12:18 pm

Thanks, hope they enjoy it as much as you did!

Martin Wildam June 24, 2009 at 9:34 am

Very important to free time is to learn how to distinguish the important from the unnecessary information.

Henrik Edberg June 26, 2009 at 12:19 pm

Not always easy to do but very true.

Stephen - Rat Race Trap June 24, 2009 at 11:56 am

Excellent points.

“Realise that you don’t have to do everything you do.”

One way to look a the things you ultimately decide you “have” to do is that because you want the results of doing certain things, you really “want” to do them. Do you want to have expendable income which is a result of going to work? If so, you then you can look at work as something you want to do.

Henrik Edberg June 26, 2009 at 12:20 pm

Interesting way of looking at things, thank you for sharing it.

Anton June 24, 2009 at 12:40 pm

Love the quote from Leonardo Da Vinci, great motivation! Good article overall, too. Thank you for putting this together.

Henrik Edberg June 26, 2009 at 12:20 pm

Thanks Anton!

Karl Staib - Work Happy Now June 24, 2009 at 7:57 pm

My thing is getting caught up in Facebook or Twitter and thinking that I have plenty of time to do the important stuff later. I’ve gotten into the habit of doing the important stuff first, so if I’m too tired or feel like doing something besides work I don’t feel guilty. I’m also way more productive. I found that I write best in early to late morning. The afternoon is the worst time for me to be creative.

Lisis June 25, 2009 at 2:50 pm

Hey, Karl… I think once you go into Facebook or twitter, there IS no “later” since your entire day can just evaporate in there. Good call on doing your important stuff first. Now if only I could determine what my “important” stuff is! ;)

Henrik Edberg June 26, 2009 at 12:22 pm

Yeah, you two bring up a great point here. “Plenty of time and energy” tends to drain quicker than you thought and then at the end of the day you haven’t gotten that much important stuff done.

Dr. Jennifer Howard June 25, 2009 at 12:51 am

Thank You Henrick. (1) Find out where your time is really going (2) Realize that you don’t have to do everything (3) Show up and just do it are great ways to remind us that even though life may feel like a runaway train it’s not. We can re-choose everyday to make the most out of our moments. Time is also relative, taking a deep breath, listening to the birds and taking a walk can help open up our experience of what a day feels like to us.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh….a deep breath…..

Dr. Jennifer Howard

Henrik Edberg June 26, 2009 at 12:25 pm

Good tip about taking a few deep breaths, they can really help you to refocus and change how you perceive your day. Simple but very effective.

Aaron Whiston June 26, 2009 at 10:23 pm

After item #1 the rest pretty well flows. It’s amazing how much time can be spent just piddling, but when one is aware of time use this changes dramatically.

In Harmonic Wealth James Ray pointed out that if the average worker got up just one hour earlier each weekday, he/she would gain NINE more 40-hour work weeks per year. Incredible!

My point is: It’s the little things here and there we can do to immensely increase the space and time we have in which to enjoy our lives.

Chris Edgar | Purpose Power Coaching June 29, 2009 at 8:02 pm

Thanks for this — the point that you probably don’t “have to do” everything you think you have to do is particularly useful, I think. And it seems to me that when we approach doing anything from a place of “I have to do this,” we’re going to encounter resistance and a desire to do something else. :)

Gabriel Hummel June 30, 2009 at 5:46 am

Great Tips Henrik

My favorite tip for freeing up more time to set up clear guidelines for what you want out of your summer. Maybe you want to travel to Europe, or go on a road trip to Florida, or maybe you just want to spend time with your family. Your best bet is to decide what is important to you and allocate your time towards making these summer goals happen. By spending more time working towards doing the things you spend less time wondering what you could be doing this summer and effectively spend more of your time doing the things you really care about (aka more free time).

YourNetBiz | Chris Marper June 30, 2009 at 9:34 am

I work from a waist height workstation so I stand when I am at my computer. Aside from less back pain, I tend to have creative spurts for an hour or 2 then take a break to sit down, rest my eyes and regroup my thoughts. Very effective. Much more alert and invigorated when I’m standing. I get more done in those short bursts and don’t find myself wandering off on web surfing or online socializing.

Ayman June 30, 2009 at 12:52 pm

Hello Henrik,

I really liked your Blog topic (Positivity) and your posts, currently i’m far from positive status :) but your posts looks like gonna help my to regain my positive view.

Keep your great work


Aaron Whiston July 1, 2009 at 4:49 am

Any tips for creating more space-time for the self is great stuff. I came into 2009 with the intention of enjoying my time more, as for the last three years I had worked constant 10+ hour days.

When I looked at things closely, my income was actually derived from a few things, which amounted to 10 hours or so each week. I was shocked, so this year I’ve been on SERIOUS LAID BACK mode; working a few hours per day and taking days off whenever I don’t feel like walking into my office space.

Life is about experiencing the joy of the moment and not being caught up in mindless labor or minutia as demanded by the mainstream. Thanks for a great post on enjoying life.

Kathryn Lang July 1, 2009 at 3:44 pm

GREAT article! It’s stuff I know and stuff I’ve written about but the stuff I need reminding of each and every day (and some times minute to minute)!

JC July 2, 2009 at 11:25 am

Excellent advice. I ought to reflect more on how I really spend my time each day.

Armen Shirvanian July 2, 2009 at 6:17 pm

I think a lot of us resonate with point number 2. All any active individual has to do is clear out things that aren’t needed, and then their activity will kick in, leading to completion of the things that are more relevant. This might not be the case for individuals that are more passive, but they just might be passive due to doing a higher percentage of things they don’t need to do, which takes away from enthusiasm.

jonathan figaro July 25, 2009 at 11:34 pm

Great post. Procrastination s the thief of time and more more time you take to make a decision. The more of time is stole. My advice is the decide and move on.

Don’t start to worry from indecision, just do it.

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