Five ways to increase your free time

This is Indexed once again sums up a complex thought on a card.

Most people are in the middle of this curve, and would really like to be at the far end.

But why not move the curve? Why not give ourselves more personal time, even if we don’t have a wad of cash stashed away?

It may be unfashionable in the teeth of a recession or maybe depression, but why not take a step back, and set out to do stuff that we want to do?

Here are five ways to start:

  1. Reduce hours at work. For most people that read this blog and are in full time employment that probably translates to “go home at 5:00”. I for one tend to work and keep on working way past closing time each day, and that means very little free time. It’s a delight to work with companies that have a down tools at closing time policy.
    The reason is simple – businesses get more productive and happy staff when the staff are working sustainable hours. One extreme example is within ex-client BHP Billiton, where there are very strict rules on fatigue management, and there are systems in place to identify those that have been on site for too long in a day or over a series of days. That’s aimed primarily at safety – tired people are like drunk people and can make bad decisions. 
    So we could try dropping hours back to 40 or 50 per week, and take advantage of the freed up time. 
  2. Drop a day or two from the work week. The 5 day work week is a relatively new innovation – after all it used to be 6 or 7 days. But why should we be satisfied with just 2 days off per week? Moreover those two days are the same days that everybody else has off, and that means we are probably busy anyway. 
    Smart employers have flexible work policies in place, and there is no harm in asking to join the program. In these tougher times a 20% saving on your salary could be very welcome for our overlords.  
  3. Take a leave of absence. Tiwai Point have apparently had a good response from a leave without pay program. This is a wonderful way to retain a career and future income while gaining some free time. Employers would be wise to offer this sort of program, whether formally or informally – so talk to the boss.
  4.  Quit the job. It’s the ultimate holiday, and something that Kiwis are very good at doing – quitting and then going off on the big trip. It means that you need to have at least some savings, but these savings could be in the form of illiquid assets that can be sold.  
  5. Business owners – take a 2 month holiday. As businesses grow they start to absorb more and more of your time, until there is nothing left. A great way to manage out of this is to plan well in advance a lengthy holiday. This will force you to put in place people and procedures to make your business independent of your own day to day involvement. The beautiful thing about this is that you can then free yourself to work on the business rather than in the business.

Do it now.

We all make plans for what we will do in the future, but many plans lie dusty on the shelf rather than open on the desk with heavy editing and coffee stains. 

It may feel impossible to free up work time given the demands that work is placing on you and given their need for your personal talents and knowledge.

But imagine what would happen at work if you suddenly took ill, or had to rush off to take care of a loved one who fell ill? People will cope without you, and may even thrive in your absence. In truth nobody is essential, nobody is irreplaceable, an we always muddle through.

Finally there is the money and the time. How will you cope with less or no income and what will you do with that free time? Those are different issues, and we’ll need to deal with the first one in another post soon.

Published by Lance Wiggs


4 replies on “Five ways to increase your free time”

  1. I took a 7 month sabbatical in June. People in Sept thought I was mad when the recession came in.

    We worked out that if we cut a heap of luxury items we could service out mortgage, live day to day and still enjoy some basic holidays on the savings we had (just).

    All it took was being careful about where we spent money – keeping an eye on it daily – and changing how we enjoyed the time.

    Totally achievable and a heap of fun – made me much nicer to be around :)


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