I feel so overwhelmed with all the things and activities that are on my plate! I don’t want to miss out on stuff but sometimes I feel like I’m just going to activities to “get it over with” and then it’s on to the next! How should I spend my free time so it’s really “free” and not burdensome? –Too much to do
Dear Too Much to Do,
Kudos to you for really examining what is going on in your life. You want to live life with purpose and meaning. Right now it sounds like you are just jumping from one activity to the next without any thought about why–and without any thought about if it’s actually something you want to do. Here are a few tips to help you sort through this dilemma on how to spend your free time:
1) Don’t just do what everyone else is doing. Do an inventory of your values, priorities, what you think is genuinely fun. if you don’t like the clubbing scene, but all your friends are going, go once in a while, but pursue your own interests and you’ll make friends who are more aligned with who you are and be happier as a result. If you genuinely like knitting, or water skiing, make sure you are aware of that and pursue that.
2) Be aware of your body. Sometimes we tend to just want to fill our calendars because we don’t want to miss anything. Or maybe we are so driven that we will sacrifice our health for a goal because are young and invincible. But what happens is we end up feeling tired, and not enjoying anything. Or we end up sick and less productive than if we had just paced ourselves. I know this sounds obvious, but when you are tired, rest!
3) Learn to say no. There are a myriad of reasons why a lot of us have a hard time with this. But at the end of the day, we need to be able to assess whether or not we have the capacity to fulfill someone’s request. And if the answer is no, this needs to be communicated. The alternative is bitterness and feelings of resentment. Plus, if you can never say no to anything, you also are saying that you cannot really say yes to anything, either.
4) Ask yourself what gives you life. There are some activities that we do where time flies. Maybe it’s a sport, or a certain friend you spend time with, or a cause that you feel very passionate about. Those are things that you want to really allocate and make room for.
5) Of course, take care of business, but if possible, delegate. Yes, wash your dishes. Take a shower. Go to work. Take care of your business–it’s inevitable, there are mundane tasks that just need to be done. But if you have the means, delegate the tasks to others. Pay someone to wash your car. Don’t worry about making homemade butter (unless you really find joy in it), when you can spend that extra hour at your spin class or out having coffee with a good friend.
6) Lastly, remember that we honoring God with our time is the best use of it. You cannot go wrong walking in His will, doing as He’d do. Jesus seemed to always manage his time well, was always purposeful, and always full of joy. We’d be wise to follow in His footsteps!
Lia Huynh is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in the San Jose, Milpitas and Fremont areas who helps people find healthy, life-giving ways to spend their time. If you are interested in working with Lia, find out more about it here.