How to Be More Productive with Your Free Time

Lindsey Tod
Oct 14, 2019 · 7 min read

We all want the same things. To be happy, healthy, smart, and rich. So why is it so hard to spend our free time bringing to life what we want?

Is it a lack of knowing what to do? Maybe for some. But there are plenty of resources out there, and you could look it up and learn if you really wanted to.

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For example, let’s say you want to eat healthier, but you don’t put in the effort because you “don’t know how.” You could download the Budget Bites app and quickly make a cheap, nutrient-rich shopping list that will feed you for the whole week. You could do that, if you really wanted to eat healthier. (I won’t be so ignorant as to ignore the fact that many don’t have the privilege I do, which is a whole other blog post).

Or, let’s say you want to make more money, but again, you “don’t know how.” You could go take a selling on Amazon course and learn how to build a 6-figure/year business in one year like I did (no seriously, I co-own a side business that does over $20k/month in sales that only requires a few hours per week of maintenance). You could do that… if you really wanted to make more money.

Or, let’s say you want to write a book. You could start posting articles to Medium and writing more on your Instagram to start getting feedback on your work. You could… if you really wanted to write a book one day.

Okay, you get the point.

This begs the question. If we really want to be good at things, why don’t we just do them? If it’s not just a lack of knowledge, then it must be a lack of motivation. That kind of sucks. Isn’t motivation something that just hits you out of nowhere? I don’t think so. I think there’s a hack.

How to Clarify Your Vision

I said it at the beginning, and I’ll say it again… Everybody wants to be happy, healthy, smart, and rich. But how does one become any of these? It’s just way too broad. Not believable. “I want to be happy!” Okay, same. But at what point will you say, “I’ve arrived!”?

Without a tangible thing to become, the future is too blurry, and it’s hard to know which direction to journey down. We have to calibrate our compasses.

Let’s start by defining what it is that brings you happiness. Or what is defined as being healthy. Or what justifies being smart. Or what qualifies as richer. Identifying your destination is the first step to a more full you.

So here’s the first hack. Grab your journal, and answer the following question for happiness, healthiness, intelligence, and finances.

When I dream about being happier, I dream about being a ___(noun)___.

  • When I dream about being happier, I dream about being a coach.

It’s okay if you have a few and you’re not completely sure. Usually, it can be one of the first things that come to mind. Sometimes we overthink things because we’re scared we won’t be good enough. But don’t be so hard on yourself. We’re just dreaming here.

And here’s something else I want you to know. You’re better than you think. All of us have strengths. Whether or not you know what yours are, you still have them. That’s the beauty of humanity… it takes all kinds.

Michelle Obama shared something that has had a great impact on me and my development, and I think about it pretty often. She said, “I have been at probably every powerful table that you can think of, I have worked at nonprofits, I have been at foundations, I have worked in corporations, served on corporate boards, I have been at G-summits, I have sat in at the U.N.: They are not that smart.”

You have it in you. When you set your mind to something, you’ll surprise yourself with how smart you are. My husband doesn’t think he’s very good at math, but when he sat down to make a budget, he made a detailed savings plan and even set up a brand new Simple bank account so that we can easily stick to it. Those negative mantras in your head are holding you back from manifesting the good in your heart that is trying to make its way out into the world. Don’t be afraid to dream your dreams.

How to Identify What Your Habits Should Be

Now, we’ve got our destination, which feels good. Goals are great. But hitting the goal should not be what gets you excited. No, then you miss out on enjoying the moments that fly by when you’re creating in your element. When you’re at peace with the Universe.

Your goal should serve as a vision. Like the finish line at a race. And with that vision at the forefront, you should move with purpose. Every step that you take is pushing you in one direction… either towards that finish line or away from it. Every single one of your decisions are compounding. And one day, you’ll reap what you sowed.

Pastor Toure Roberts puts it best and says that there is an old person on the inside of you banking on the decisions you make today.

So how do you muster up the willpower to go to the gym or watch the educational videos or call your family more? Without a plan, unfortunately, you won’t. Or, at least I won’t. I’ve proven to myself that I have a strong ability to waste time. Mindlessly scrolling through Instagram. Keeping up with the Kardashians in too much detail.

But if I had a good habit… that might do it. In fact, over the past few weeks, I’ve started to form a habit, and I can testify… it’s working. After I close my laptop for the day, I take a 10-minute walk to Crunch Fitness. There I box or run or take a workout class for about 30 minutes. Then I head downstairs to the Barnes & Noble to read, write, and build for two hours. I’m still refining that creative time, so that I can be productive in each of those areas. But I’ve come a long way in such a short amount of time. You are reading my third post, afterall.

Now, it’s your turn. You’ve identified who you want to be. Next, you should define what actions you think that ideal person that would perform on a daily basis.

A __(from above)___ frequently ___(action/s)___.

  • A coach, frequently listens, shares thoughts, networks, and guides.

Now, we’ve got some ideas. And next time you go to pick up the remote, you’ll think about your other options. Don’t forget to have grace for yourself. But know that you are capable of spending more time on the things that bring you life.

It’s helpful to identify when and where you will do each action item, so that it’s not dependent on random spurts of motivation. For example, every night right when I crawl under the covers, my husband and I discuss three things we’re thankful for that day. (Pro Tip: Try changing up your atmosphere if you find yourself falling into the same old habits. Maybe move the remote to the top of the refrigerator. You will surprise yourself!)

Keep in mind that happy, healthy, smart, and rich are four pillars I’ve used as an example here. But think about what’s important to you, and who you want to be. You can use this same formula to get closer to that person in much less time than you think. And over time, these new habits will just become a part of who you are. With some divine intervention, you’ll become that coach or boxer or mother or son or marketer or whatever you want to be.

You’ve Got This

Thanks for sticking with me. You’ve got it in you. I promise. When you find a habit that you actually enjoy spending time on, it’s much easier to do it. And sure, Netflix will still be there for you. But if you’re going to be happy either way, would you rather consume or create?

Creating is often hard for many of us, especially when it’s a new endeavor. It’s scary to put your heart out into the world. But remember, you can experiment. Try, fail, get better. Because that desire is in your heart for a reason. Your voice and your perspective are valuable. There are people who will agree and others will disagree. But when there is tension, that means there is growth.

PS — This post was influenced by Atomic Habits by James Clear. If you need a book to jumpstart your “smarter,” habit, I highly recommend this one! He has some great practical tips for how to stay consistent with your habits. Additionally, I’ve been attending The Potter’s House at OneLA. If you’re looking for some encouragement, check them out on YouTube. It will bless you richly.

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +755K people. Follow to join our community.

Lindsey Tod

Written by

Chasing Aha! Moments | CCO @ CULTURE | Building engaged teams for the new business world

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +755K people. Follow to join our community.

Lindsey Tod

Written by

Chasing Aha! Moments | CCO @ CULTURE | Building engaged teams for the new business world

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +755K people. Follow to join our community.

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