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Sudden changes in our lives can open up periods of free time that we didn't have previously. Lots of free time might come about through change of lifestyle, retirement, career changes, having your kids leave home, or graduating from school or college. Filling your free time with useful pursuits is a way of increasing your creativity, energy, enthusiasm, and sense of fulfillment from life. Using free time productively can help you to overcome the inability to relax because you're scared of "just doing nothing". And ultimately, using free time in a way that feels beneficial to you will ensure that you feel well-rounded, engaged fully in life, and very much a productive human being. In this article, you'll have the chance to explore various ways of filling your free time with useful and fulfilling activities.


Make a plan for your free time. Free time will only become useful to you if you've focused on how you'd like to use it. Simply expecting free time to turn productive, creative, or fulfilling won't bring it about because you haven't thought about the process needed to fill that time effectively.Your first realization should be that it is up to you to "do something" about making your free time work better for you; it isn't going to come from somewhere or someone else, only from your choice to make it useful time.
Your second realization is to make up your own mind as to what you define as "useful". Relaxing, doing nothing, rejuvenating, and thinking are all "useful" activities if they lead to a better, more fulfilled life. Don't couch your "usefulness" in terms of what you think yo
Write down a list of the things you'd like to be doing in your free time. You can rank it any way you like, or treat everything as equally important on it; that's up to you.
Keep a journal about your life and include how you'd like your life to be. Be sure to describe the activities you're trying out in your free time, so that you can evaluate whether or not they are worth continuing to do.
Create a visualization board that sets out the ways in which you'd like to spend future free time.

Guard your free time from unnecessary stress. If you want your free time to be truly useful, don't allow non-free time things to bleed into it. The reason for this is that your free time is needed to refresh you and improve your energy, your creativity, and your sense of self. If you let the usual mundane activities of everyday life creep into your free time under the pretense of being "useful," you won't gain anything from your free time and you will have very loose boundaries between free time and the rest of your time, thereby devaluing your free time.Some of the things that it is suggested you don't do during free time include your usual work or chores, answering emails and voice messages, watching TV, constant action (free time needs to include some spaces for daydreaming and reflection), and playing with electronics if you tend to lose your sense of time with "gamer brain." Instead, set aside "catching up on work time," "internet time," and "responding to emails time" as distinct and separate activities from your free time.

Expand your comfort zone. A great way to use free time usefully is to discover new things and to find out that you have dimensions to yourself that you weren't even aware of before. By stepping beyond your usual comfort zone, your free time becomes a journey of self-discovery and helps you to grow. Moreover, it helps you to stay interested by sparking your curiosity and broadening your awareness. Some things you might consider doing to expand your comfort zone include:Try new things that you've always wanted to try but make excuses for not doing, including by saying you haven't "got the time" – use your free time!
Do things you loved doing 10 years ago but have let go by the wayside since. Pick them up again and see where they take you this time. It will probably feel odd getting used to something you haven't tried for ages and possibly time has caused things to change considerably but enjoy the challenge involved in renewing your interest.
Write down the things that excite and energize you. Look for activities and experiences that will bring this about for you.
Consider some of the following hobbies that you can get started on your own: teaching yourself a new computer programming language, learning a new foreign language, writing a book/short story/play, making jewelry, graphic designing, amateur photography, learning a new type of dancing (pole dancing, belly dancing, zumba, tap, jazz, etc.), cooking or baking, teaching private classes on something you already love doing.

Change your approach to media usage. Turn off the TV and leave it out of your free time. Think about creative ways to use media in your free time instead. The Internet allows us to be in charge of the input that is circulated through media, providing you with ample opportunities for turning your free time into a useful means for getting out creative, practical, or informative messages that you'd like to share with the world.How about creating a video that highlights something you're passionate or concerned about, and then setting it free on YouTube? Or perhaps you can write some poems or short stories, and add them to an online portfolio. Or if you're passionate about fashion, piece together some eye-catching pieces, find a model, and create your own fashion blog. Maybe music is more your thing and you'd like to compose a song and share it with people online. These useful uses of your free time will tap into your creativity and give other people something they can cherish, enjoy, or learn from as a result - a win all around!

Volunteer. If you've already volunteered, you'll be aware of the benefits it can bring. If you have enough free time to give of your time to others in need, this can be a very fulfilling way to give back to your community or society. And even better – you get to choose what to volunteer in according to what you believe in, and what you think is most important. Search for volunteer opportunities through asking people you know who already volunteer, by searching online or in the volunteer pages, or asking people who work in places you'd like to volunteer for. Whatever your level of experience, there is likely to be a volunteer opportunity for you and with time, you can build knowledge, expertise, and reputation through volunteering and find it becomes an incredibly fulfilling experience that helps many others.Some ideas for volunteering include web work/newsletters/wikis for charities, thrift store helping, fundraising, soup kitchens or cooking/catering, animal work (wildlife reserves, zoos, animal rescue or training, etc.), joining a conservation crew, volunteering overseas, making things for people in need, and running a club's museum/display/tour activities.
Volunteer as much or as little as you like. You're giving up your free time for a worthy cause, so you should enjoy it. Even consider volunteering in different places at different times, to give yourself some variety in both experience and the people you meet.

Consider downsizing and reorienting your lifestyle. If you find your free time has been hampered by having to deal with a large house and all its maintenance and cleaning, gain more free time by removing the clutter and even consider purchasing a smaller residence. Perhaps move closer to a place where there are plenty of activities that you'd rather be doing and that are not on offer where you currently live to make up for a smaller residence.It can take months to clear long-accumulated clutter from your life. Give yourself the time but also set a deadline by which everything is to be sorted and out of your life for good.
Hold garage and yard sales to get rid of things you no longer need to keep. The money can go toward your free time activities.
Avoid seeing downsizing as depriving yourself of a certain standard of living. Once you've freed yourself of high-maintenance requirements, you'll soon learn that the additional free time you've earned is worth a great deal more.
Some organizations like the I.R.S. (USA) require that you save financial papers going back 7 years, so don't declutter paperwork without looking at it first.
Shred paperwork with personal information such as Social Security numbers or bank account numbers before tossing, to prevent identity theft.

Learn for the sake of learning. School, college, university, and continued learning on-the-job are usually focused on getting us into gainful employment. Sometimes learning for the sake of learning is lost underneath all the deadlines, necessities for grades, and fears of keeping jobs. Learning within free time can be free of these constrictions and can be completely different from our chosen professional path in life, free from the usual reason of honing skills to a specific job or promotion. Always fancied yourself getting involved in archaeology, ballroom dancing, jewelry making, wilderness first aid, or hang-gliding? Use free time to immerse yourself into learning these things for the sake of learning them, without having the pressure to achieve beyond the goals you've set for yourself.Even consider going back to college to broaden your knowledge.
Ironically, even though this type of learning may seem unrelated to what you do in the rest of your life, it will still be beneficial because it increases your ability to understand the world better, provides you with new ways of seeing things, and equips you with new skills that may well be applicable laterally, allowing you to "think outside the box" and come up with new, creative solutions to your everyday activities.

Indulge your hobby or pastime. Free time is an excuse to get fully involved in doing something that you consider to be a hobby or pastime. Hobbies are useful because they give you the opportunity to expand knowledge, improve skills, and to be focused, diligent, and switched on. Moreover, a hobby allows you to enjoy yourself as you immerse yourself in the intricacies of it. Be sure to reach out to others in the same hobby so that you can connect, share ideas, and brag. This is one area where showing off now and then does no harm provided it's all in good fun and you return the favor by complimenting the efforts of others in your hobby, too.Even within one hobby, there are many roads to take to keep yourself occupied. For example, art and craft is filled with ideas for possible hobby angles; within painting alone you could investigate acrylics, enamel, encaustic (wax), frescoes, gouache, inks, oils, heat-set oils, water miscible oils, pastels and dry pastels, oil pastels, pastel pencils, spray paint (graffiti), tempera, watercolor, sketching.

Turn cooking and gardening into joys instead of chores. These two activities can be a burden or a major source of therapeutic unwinding and inner joy; it really depends on how you approach them and giving yourself free time to explore them will open up the possibilities for seeing them as useful and enjoyable things to do in place of a chore.Pull out a cookbook and try some new recipes. Or look in your fridge and cupboards, then search online for a recipe that uses those very ingredients (for example, search for "broccoli pineapple jalapeño recipes"). Spend an afternoon baking and learning how to use new techniques you've never tried before. Use your efforts to throw a casual dinner party for people you really care about.
Redesign your garden or change your approach to what you grow in it. Cacti are amazing plants that grow gorgeous flo

rs, and they're almost impossible to kill. Or you could try herbs which are easy to grow, fun to use (in cooking or in crafts), and keep coming back year after year. Or how about creating a meditation garden or a Persian garden?


Spend more time with your pets. If you haven't already got a pet, now might be a good time to get one. Pets require regular care and can help you to create free time simply because of their need and that can only be good for you, especially if you have workaholic tendencies! Look for a pet from a local animal shelter, and you'll save the pet's life and become the center of each other's world.

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