How to dominate your free time

Once you’ve started dominating your schedule to ensure maximum productivity; the next step is to dominate your free time and turn those moments with seemingly nothing to do into opportunities to close the gap between you and the you that you aspire to be.

Every minute of our life can be categorized into three types of time use:

  1. Investing Time
  2. Spending Time
  3. Wasting Time

While you’ve likely heard these terms before, let’s create a better definition of each so that you have a clear picture of how you’re using your time.

Investing Time

Anything that we do that will benefit us in the future is an investment of time, regardless if it benefits us in the present or not. Obvious examples are:

  • Going to the gym
  • Studying for a test
  • Preparing a PowerPoint presentation
  • Learning a new skill
  • You reading this blog post

All of these have obvious benefits to your future self, and for most of them, we are doing them with the future outcome in mind. Everybody who goes to the gym knows that they will not see results tomorrow and it’s probably going to be uncomfortable today, but they go because of the future benefits.

Here are some less obvious investments of time:

  • Sleeping

Getting enough sleep is key to be able to function at the highest level the next day.

  • Quality time with loved ones

Spending time with loved ones is an investment. You’re investing in them to make your relationship stronger for the future.

  • Take some time to relax

Some think that in order to be the best version of yourself you cannot take anytime to relax, everything has to be on all of the time. The truth is, not taking time for yourself can be of hard to your future endeavors. Burnout is real and going at 100 miles an hour with no time to unwind will result in lower quality work.

Spending Time

Spending time is the opposite of investing. Spending time is time which prioritizes the present regardless of future benefits.

Spending time does not necessarily need to be a bad thing if done in moderation. Taking a lazy Sunday to binge watch Netflix and eat ice cream may not be a wise investment, but one lazy Sunday won’t keep you from greatness. The key is to make sure these moments of spending are done with the intention above of unwinding so that you can be more effective in the future.

Where spending time becomes harmful is when you begin consistently procrastinating and putting no weight on how your actions will affect future deadlines and responsibilities.

Wasting Time

Wasting time has no benefit whatsoever. To waste time is to do something that has no benefit to your future and really doesn’t fulfill you in the present either. When lazy Sunday becomes lazy everyday, you have lost the tag of unwinding for future productivity. Your present isn’t being fulfilled either because of your constant stressing over upcoming responsibilities.

Spending hours scrolling through social media is time wasting. While a few minutes of social media may help you stay connected with current events or what friends are up to; this can quickly become a rabbit-hole that sucks away your present fulfillment and works toward putting off your future responsibilities.

Try to use as much of your time as possible as an investment. This doesn’t mean making yourself a slave to your work in hopes of a better future. Think of short term time investments as well as long term. Maybe study for 15 minutes everyday in order to avoid a night before all night cramming session. Doing so will clear up time and stress for you to focus on investing in relationships and fulfilling hobbies.

How to dominate your schedule


“Time isn’t the main thing. It’s the only thing.” – Miles Davis

Time is the most precious resource in the world and is one we cannot get back. We can’t create it, we can’t control it, and we can’t destroy it. So how do we make the most of the time that we have? You have to have some blueprint of how you’re going to use your time. Whether it’s a completely comprehensive planner that plans your day second by second, or just a rough estimate in your head, you must have an idea of how you use the 24-hours in a day that are given to you.

How to prioritize

Start with making a list of events that repeat from week-to-week and cannot be moved, like school, work, meetings, sports practice, piano lessons, family game night, etc. Anything that is fixed in your schedule and is not a one-off event.

Then make a list of all of the things you have to do on a weekly basis, but doesn’t have a set time, like meals or sleep. Other things that may go in this category: homework or exercise, if you read a newspaper or blog daily, maybe you have weekly plans to see a friend. Anything that happens every week, but doesn’t have to happen at a certain time.

Now make a list of all of the things you want or need to do on a weekly basis. Want to exercise more? Want to read more? Want to have more time to watch movies? Need to build in time to work on a project? More time for your friends or significant other? All of that goes here. Try to put the things in this list in order of importance to you.

Plan out your day

This is where we’re going to put these lists into a concrete schedule. You can put this in a planner or just have it mapped out in your mind. I like to plan things week-to-week first, then break it down day-to-day.

You’ll start your weekly schedule with the fixed items from our first list. For sake of example, I’m going to show you one day.

Monday

10-11:20am – Class

2-5pm – Class

6-8pm – Work

Now write down all of the things you have to do from list two, but don’t put them in your schedule yet.

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

8 hours of sleep

Editing for sports section of newspaper

Econ homework

Now write down the things in list three. Which of them needs to be done on a certain day? If you need time to see a friend, when are they available?

Dinner with Birny and JB at 8:30

Go to gym

Read a chapter of a book

Watch Monday Night Football

Now we prioritize. What’s most important? Start plugging things into your schedule starting with what’s most important. For me, I need my editing for the newspaper to be done by Tuesday, but Econ homework isn’t due until Friday. Dinner with my friends can only happen at 8:30, so we’ll plug that in first. Then we have to work in editing time and meals.

Monday

7am wake up – Breakfast

7:45-8:45am – Gym

9:00-9:45am – Shower and Get ready for Class

10-11:20am – Class

11:30am-12:30pm – Lunch

12:30 – 1:30pm – Editing for Newspaper

2-5pm – Class

6-8pm – Work

8:30-10pm – Dinner with Birny and JB somewhere we can watch Monday Night Football

10:15-10:45 – Read a chapter from a book

11pm – Go to bed

Here is my complete schedule written out. Normally I’d plan everything out in my head, but whichever way makes you more productive is the way you should go with. It is important to balance your schedule with what I call the Stress Hierarchy. Be sure that your schedule doesn’t have too many high stress activities and balances the ones you have with low stress, or relaxing, activities. This is why you want to schedule your week as a whole to ensure all of the high stress activities don’t all end up having to be crammed on the same day.

For me the gym, reading, and dinner and football with friends are stress relievers and help balance out editing for the newspaper, class, and work. Productivity does not mean constantly working. Productivity is about getting everything you need to get done on time and at a high quality. Without balancing the stress hierarchy, you will become buried in work and your quality will suffer.

Scheduling is a way to take control of your life and be intentional about how you spend your time. It gives you direction and keeps you on task. How you spend your time is the first place to look when trying to maximize your potential. Dominating your schedule is the first step to dominating your life.