How much time do you get to yourself?
Depends what counts as free time:
- Not working
- Not getting ready for work or commuting
- Not studying
- Not looking after children
- Not looking after elders
- Not making or keeping medical appointments
- Not doing cooking and cleaning
After that, I am not sure what counts, because we are getting into choices here:
- Walking and playing with the dog
- Maintaining or repairing a house, yard/garden and car
Once you agree to these responsibilities, they become unskippable obligations! Or at least take significant effort to change.
Then there are things you sign up for that require a commitment:
- Gym membership
- Running a marathon
- Book club
- Theatre subscription
- Planning a wedding or a family reunion
You can stop – but it may not be easy – or cheap – or popular!
I had a look at how much free time I had on a typical weekday. The answer is 3 hours and 45 minutes. I think that is a LOT compared to people who are looking after young children, making daily hospital visits, or sitting in traffic day and night.
Here’s what my so-called typical day is like:
- Home workout – 1 hour (Since I schedule this, I consider it not “free” time. But really it is.)
- Getting ready for work – 45 minutes
- Blog reading and personal email – 1 hour (free time)
- Walking to and from work – 1 hour
- Work – 7 hours
- Eating meals – 1.5 hours
- Cooking – 1 .5 hours
- Cleaning – 30 minutes (usually dishes and tidying only until the weekend)
- Blog reading and personal email – 1 more hour (free time)
- Completely free time – 1 hour 45 minutes
- Sleep – 7 hours
So how do I use my non-blogging free time? It is “left over” after a full day of work and home responsibilities. Sometimes Rom and I have a long (somewhat one-sided) conversation about Magic the Gathering and guitars; sometimes we watch a concert on Qello (the Netflix for music people); sometimes I read a book for an hour or two straight; sometimes I pick up my nephew from his Tae Kwon Do class; maybe I need to shop for a birthday gift. But I never do anything outright productive, like knit a scarf or declutter a closet! At best, maybe I’ll research an upcoming vacation. At worst, I’ll write a blog post and go to bed two hours late (it happens!)
There are many, many non-typical days. I work one evening a week – and have the morning off for appointments and errands. I have a work or volunteer meeting one evening a week, too (variable, of course). Ah, public service! My schedule has some flexibility so it doesn’t feel like an unending grind.
Interestingly, Rom gets the house to himself when I work evenings and do volunteering, while I am never home alone, even at my advanced age. Funny! But he would say he is not a “joiner” and doesn’t sign up for stuff (except for online courses).
What all of this means is, I cram all my projects into weekends: volunteering, garden and yard work, cleaning, booking appointments and trips, visiting relatives, grocery shopping and bill paying. I basically don’t relax at all on the weekends. But because of my 3.75 hours a day of blogging, reading, and relaxing, I don’t miss weekends too much. Things like visiting and gardening don’t always feel like work 🙂 There is always time for a concert or a meal out when we feel like it. Sleep is optional…
I can’t believe you can even fit 7 hours sleep into your daily schedule!! You mention blog reading but did I miss when you write your posts? My organised moments of life are getting up getting to work and being at work everything else including my weekends has to be very flexible. After looking after everyone and everything else, mothers, daughters, husbands, house and garden etc my free time is an occassional TV program for an hour or writing a post, reading a blog and this then reduces my sleep time down to 6 hours. I definitely need to sort my life out but find I just don’t have the time!!
I do the same as you. I have reduced my blog posts from 3 a week to 2. I do one during the week (staying up late and losing sleep) and the other on the weekend. One thing that saves me time is that I only cook dinner about twice a week, and Rom cooks once or twice a week, and the other nights we happily eat leftovers, so that helps.
You are very organised, Dar! You fit a lot in and still seem to have good work/life balance. I think whoever came up with the ‘8 hour day’ was optimistic (in terms of 8 hours rest, 8 hours work and 8 hours leisure.)
In term time I have hardly any free time Mon-Fri, with lots of prep at night after my official work day is done (and after cooking, cleaning and parenting at night.) But we re-coup all that overtime in our generous term breaks (about 13 weeks a year.) It’s a juggling act but worth it to have so much free time in the term breaks! I just have to save all my projects till then!
I know lots of people prefer to have longer work days and more unbroken time off. It wouldn’t be my choice, but I can understand the appeal. That being said, some people feel sorry for me because I don’t strictly work 9-5 and I have evening and weekend work commitments.
8 hours leisure is quite a joke unless homes and families are “leisure”!
Very interesting! My leisure time is closer to 1 1/2 hours daily, Monday-Friday. Work is usually at least 9 hours (more on Mondays when we have staff meetings), plus I allot 1 1/2 hours more than you do for sleep (9 – 5:30). No one wants to put up with me on less sleep than that 🙂 But while I work long hours during the week, I’m grateful that I don’t work on weekends and get paid days off for 9 out of 10 federal holidays. I use that time to catch up like you!
That’s a long workday, Amanda. My job hours are 9-5 with an hour lunch. I work one Saturday a month and get a weekday off in exchange. I can’t sleep more than 7 hours at a stretch any more; old age, I guess!
Holy Moly! I too am quite impressed by everything that you do. Back when I was still employed I NEVER felt like I had enough time, and I figured I just wasn’t organized enough. So I made a list of everything I had to do each day and how much time I would need to allocate to it so that I wouldn’t feel rushed. It came out to 36 hours per day! Oy! Now that I work from home I still wish I had more time – seriously, I can’t imagine ever being bored!
But I have a semi-serious question for you. You allocate 7 hours for sleep – does that include time getting ready for bed and the time between when your head hits the pillow and when you actually fall asleep? My sleep allocation is generally more like 9-10 hours… but here’s the thing. It takes me about 30 minutes to get ready for bed, probably another 30 minutes to fall asleep, then I get up to pee at least once during the night, and it takes me another 30 minutes to fall back asleep after that, and it takes me at least 30 minutes in the morning between when I wake up and when I can actually drag myself out of bed. So my 9-10 hours of sleep allocation is really closer to 7-8 hours of actual sleep. Do do people like you just have some uncanny ability to pop in and out of bed and/or a sleeping/waking state, or do you really only get about 5 hours of actual sleep? Just wondering, because I just can’t fathom how people like you (which is most of the world) operate!
Hi Cat, I suppose that since I get up so early, get physical activity every day and work regular shifts, I have trained myself to sleep as I do. Yes, sadly, I am one of those people who gets up instantly. I fall asleep within 10 minutes at bedtime. However, after telling myself for the past 6 months that I wasn’t really having hot flashes and it was just warm in the house, the thermostat now says otherwise! So I am having some sleep difficulties now. My former 7 hours of actual sleep is now more like 6. I am not a napper so my way of dealing with this (for now) is just being lazy when I’m home in the evenings!
Interesting! I am in a different situation as I have to allocate a big chunk of time to taking care of my husband and arranging his in-home and outside appointments, etc. This was a really good exercise to help me see where the time goes on an average weekday. Weekends would be different and would include groceries and other errands, but also more free too, usually for hiking or other outdoor activity.
My weekdays right now ~
blog reading, personal email and my Fitbit online forum group, texting friends and family, etc. = 1.75 hours (including while I eat or have morning coffee, etc.)
bed/sleep: 7.5 hrs (includes time to fall asleep and wake up, I average 7 hours 4 mins of sleep, per my Fitbit!)
work: 6 hrs
caregiving or related (time either at home or at medical facilities): 4.75 hours
car time (commuting to/from work and/or taking husband to appointments, or running errands): 1.75 hours
exercise: 45 minutes
food prep: 30 minutes
cleaning, tidying or organizing: 30 minutes
showering, dressing & changing clothes during the day: 30 minutes
I am interested in how much time you spend on your blog, now that you’ve put the bug in my ear about starting my own. I’m toying with the idea and want to see if I can figure it into the mix somehow. I believe I can find more time on the weekends for sure.
Hi Holly, I was hoping to hear from you on this one because I know you spend a lot of time caregiving. It looks like your free time on weekdays is nil other than texting and blog reading while you eat! Please email me at email@example.com and I will send you some blogging hints.
I seem to have a lot of free time but I’m usually taking required rest that never seems relaxing because I feel like I should be doing something else…
Thank you, WT! I am not sure I could cope with required rest, but you do what you have to do…I would need to practice mindfulness, to stop thinking about other things I could be doing. Or find things to get totally wrapped up in and make the world go away, like excellent books or movies or art projects!
Distraction is one of my best allies!
When working full time, I loved the time I traveled in my car. My own music or quiet, my own thoughts, etc. We all need to find our little respites. Good post.
When I had a commute, I felt the same! Still do, I suppose, walking to work – a refreshing way to start the day.
I’d like more free time but know I faff around and waste too much time reading and re-reading things on the net and flicking through crap on the tele. I wish I could limit my work hours to 9 to 5, but I average an evening function a week, on top of the normal hours of 7.45 to 5 with about 15 minutes for lunch, if I’m lucky.
When I took long service leave and just stayed at home, I liked being able to take things slowly. Go for a walk, exercise, doing a bit of cleaning and tidy up, cook dinner, read, talk with family and friends. Bliss. I love slow.
I am not accustomed to slow but maybe someday!
Ah truly free time, never enough is there? You seem as busy as me, but somehow less exhausted…
I really do have a lot of time to relax in the evenings, especially when you factor in all the time I’m on the computer! But I have a pattern of staying busy all day, and falling asleep in the evenings whenever I stop the “busyness,” even if I am just reading a book at 7 pm!
You always do so many interesting things! I am a “joiner” by nature and while I enjoy doing a range of things now that we are retired, I don’t know how you fit everything you like to do in with a full time job!
Thanks, April. I do a lot of volunteering that is paperwork I can do at home. If I have commitments 2 evenings a week, that is still 5 evenings with none!
I don’t have elderly parents, or kids, but I don’t feel like I have that much free time, but then again, I sign up for water polo, with the commute either side. State Emergency Services another night. If I make those nights (!!) I think on a night without commitments, I should get 3 clear hours + at home. I don’t think of my morning time as free time – it’s just prep for work, and it’s not rushed, but it’s to a schedule. I can’t dilly dally – not like when I was a student up at 7.30am for classes at 9am or later, and I could indulge in some fun reading.
I’m really missing more free time. it’s why I haven’t been to my Mon-Tue-Wed commitments all in the one week, I just can’t commit to that much and still survive a work week. There’s no real end in sight with my acting role – I mean at some stage I’ll apply, and then get appointed, but I haven’t got my hopes up it’ll be resolved that soon.
That must be rough, to have evening commitments and not be able to attend them. It must be a worry if this is your foreseeable future!
interesting task, I always feel that I dont have time for me, but will do a little plan I think I may surprise myself!
I am always frittering away time on the Internet and then thinking I don’t have time to myself!
Honestly, my me time is not necessarily the time spent blogging or reading etc, it is snatched moments – sitting down on a park bench to knit and enjoy watching the leaves fall or knitting in the car or reading a book in the bath. Otherwise I am a slave to my computer and the TV and the time spent doesn’t feel real.
I know exactly what you mean – sometimes I think of my free time as free time IN ADDITION TO whatever time slips away when I am on the computer, as if that somehow doesn’t count!