5 ways to waste your free time

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“The way we employ the surplus hours after provision has been made for work, meals, and sleep will determine if we develop into mediocre or powerful people.” —Oswald Sanders

The idea that free time could be “wasted” might seem like an oxymoron, but after reading this quote from Oswald Sanders, I think it’s an important issue to consider.

Most leaders don’t celebrate words like waste and decay, but those are some of the exact words that could be used to characterize how we spend our free time.

As leaders, we must carefully choose how we spend our leisure hours. Time is one commodity we can never get back. While we may have more responsibility than ever before, the truth is that everyone has the same 24 hours in a day. The problem is not the lack of time, but how we decide to use the time we’ve been given.

Here are five common ways we could potentially waste our free time:

1. Choose not to spend time with your family.

As a leader, your biggest area of influence and ministry is your home. So many times it’s tempting to spend our free time working on a side project or enjoying one of our hobbies. However, if you’re not intentionally using some of your downtime from your responsibilities to invest in your family, you’re wasting it.

2. Choose not to rest and relax.

Granted, this doesn’t mean you have to schedule an afternoon at the spa. However, if you don’t take time to recharge and refuel, you’re wasting the small amount of free time that you have. One idea is to block time in your calendar specifically for resting and relaxing. It’s a discipline that could exponentially increase your longevity.

3. Choose to stay structured.

A few years ago, Craig Groeschel shared an interesting post supporting the idea that less is more. He explains how less structure enables us to be more creative because it forces us to think outside of our typical parameters. Taking time to step outside of your routine during your free time enhances your creativity and could ultimately be the thing that causes you to create those next great ideas.

4. Choose not to read.

Did you know that 80 percent of American families do not purchase or read a book in an average year? But the old adage that leaders are readers is still true. If you want to be a person of influence, start reading. Using your free time to consume knowledge through books, blog posts, or other avenues will directly impact your future leadership potential.

5. Choose to miss something you’ve never done before.

We’ve only been given a short amount of time here on this earth and very little of it is free time. By failing to use free time to do things you’ve never done before, you’re missing out on thousands of potentially life-changing experiences.

What are some other common ways people waste their free time?