How To Really Enjoy Free Time

It’s the paradox of the modern, ambitious woman. We stretch ourselves ridiculously thin, (Job! Extracurriculars! Being the best BFF in the world!) and thus, we rarely have a spare hour just for ourselves. Once we do get a some precious free time, many of us simply don’t know what to do with ourselves. ‘Wait, what do you mean I don’t have any more emails to respond to? I don’t have anywhere to be? Really?!’ We’ve all been there. We complain about our hectic schedules, but once we don’t have to be attached to our smart phones, we tend to act like fish out of water.


After a hectic year of living as a graduate student and intern in Chicago, I decided to go back home for two weeks before starting my final quarter of residency in D.C. Where’s home? The good old Dirty South of Little Rock, Arkansas. I have gone from life in a major American city, with a schedule moving at breakneck speed, to my childhood home where nearly all my high school friends (that I still care about, anyway,) have moved on to equally better things. Talk about suddenly having free time.

Now I could be spending my vacation time constantly on my phone/laptop/tablet, feverishly trying to avoid cabin fever. But I decided to delve into really enjoying my newfound free time, beyond what my Macbook could give me. So the next time you find yourself with a couple of days to dedicate to yourself, don’t let yourself fall into a sloth habit. Free time is a rarity in our modern world, and not to be spent just staring at a screen.

1) Get your body moving!
This sounds obvious, but one thing we girls love to complain about is not having time to exercise. Nothing wards off that cabin fever feeling quite like a good workout. Go for a jog in a new area. Do some yoga outside. Find a new fitness guru on Youtube. My sister recently introduced me to Cassey Ho, of YouTube fame Blogilates, and lets just say I’ve gotten into the habit of at least three videos-a-day. Start off with her “What Makes You Bootyful Butt Challenge,” and if you aren’t obsessed, then I just can’t help ya.

2) Dive into a book (or two)
One of the things I absolutely hate about having a busy schedule is the lack of time to read for pleasure. Few things are more fun than finding a book you can’t put down. Don’t know what book to pick up? Sign up for GoodReads, the literary world’s answer to social media, to see what like-minded friends are reading. My suggestions for the Lemon Lady? I recommend: Wanderlust: A Love Affair with Five Continents, a memoir of a writer who has spent the better part of her life traveling; The Bell Jar, a classic I think any ambitious woman should read; or Prep, a story of a New England boarding school that captures the awkwardness of high school so accurately it hurts.

3) Go off the beaten path
We’re all guilty of having tunnel vision in our day-to-day life. We head to the same places day in and day out, and let’s face it: we don’t often stop and smell the flowers. Use free time to go somewhere you’ve never been. I don’t recommend going out and booking a Hawaiian vacation, but sometimes just heading to a new part of town can be refreshing. Just getting in the car and going can do wonders. A spontaneous drive to small-town Arkansas ended with finding the cutest fresh fruit and veggie stand, where I bought the most delicious peaches and corn I’ve ever tasted. Head out, get out of your comfort zone. You never know what you’ll find.

Of course, finding new shows and documentaries on Netflix and Hulu is really fun. There is also quite a bit of satisfaction that goes along with polishing your resume and organizing your Pinterest boards. But don’t spend precious free time glued to a screen. Take some time to expand your mind, body and soul, and you’ll find yourself with a new attitude once you’re back to the daily grind.


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