How to Protect Free Time
In order to think more clearly you need to stop. Take a break. Rest.
A couple of weeks ago I talked about using the Three Day System to organise your week - or at least the way you think about approaching your week. Today I want to dig into the 'free time' part a little bit.
Protecting Free Time
In the current work context, with many people working remotely either full or at least part time, it's very easy for the business day to bleed into personal time. It is vital to set boundaries to protect your free time.
One easy way to do this is to respect your finish time. If your work day ends at 6pm, turn off the computer then.
If you have work email or messaging apps on your phone, segregate them into their own apps - don't blend your personal email with your work email. Set those apps not to send notifications and show badges. This way it is your choice to check them, rather than it being an intrusion into your free time.
Planning Free Time
This might sound counter-intuitive but it can actually be really effective to plan - at least loosely - your free time. It doesn't need to be scheduled down to the minute but should be time-blocked based on what you're doing. For example you might want to block Saturday morning for doing the groceries, walking the dog, and doing laundry.
Then perhaps plan a dinner with a friend for the evening. Sitting and staring into space or mindlessly watching TV aren't usually as restful as you might think, particularly if work is feeling overwhelming. You need to give your brain something else to focus on, rather than nothing at all.
If you're feeling really overwhelmed at the moment, try to plan something that involves getting out of your current space. Go for a drive. Plan a weekend away. Give yourself some breathing room.
For one client of mine gaining this space allowed him to really take stock of his current situation and start to think more clearly.
Try it, and let me know how you get on.