Make Time for Down Time: Using Online Calendars to Prioritize Free Time

Using an online scheduling tool (like Google Calendar), paired with mobile push notifications to your tablet or smartphone, is a great way to set reminders for all the things you need to do throughout the day. But what about those things you want to do? Schedule in open time, for learning, being creative, or even just some quiet time alone, and prioritize your personal development and leisure alongside tasks for work and home.

In a previous article, I suggested how you might use color to improve your scheduling and online calendars. There I suggested keeping seperate color coded calendars for quick, at-a-glance management of your day to day. For most of us, scheduling means laying out blocks of time dedicated to work, meetings, and errands. That's great for keeping track of where you need to be, but in the blocks between, we don't always think to schedule our free time.

If you're like me, you likely have goals, outside of your professional or home maintenance goals. They might involve improving a creative skill or learning something, like a new language or a craft or hobby. Maybe there's a long form piece on your favorite blog you've been meaning to read, or perhaps you've got a DIY project you really want to try. Important to achieving any personal goal is prioritizing working towards it. When you're inputting your weekly schedule online, consider booking time to learn, or to get creative; open time for you to explore something.

Additionally, there may be times where you really would like to do close to nothing. To sit in quiet, to contemplate, or read a classic novel you've been putting off. Just as important as work, and time spent maintaining your to do list at home, is spending time to yourself doing something you enjoy in peace and quiet. Although it might seem contradictory, consider adding time to your online calendar where you're offline, away from the laptop, tablet or phone to take in the sunset or (like you might have done this weekend) even watch a meteor shower.

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Whatever you choose to do with your open time, it's key to place equal importance in your schedule on these items alongside things you have less control of. If you're like me, you do your best to use your mobile devices and online calendars to keep track of where you need to be during the day. Take exploration, creativity, and learning seriously by emphasizing these personal goals in tandem with your professional and at home tasks. Be specific and make sure personal time, leisure, and time spent offline are prioritized, making a commitment to what you want to do, not just what you need to.

(Images: Sean Rioux)

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