As you also may or may not know, I'm not leaving Europe to return to Florida until mid-June. When I tell people this, they always ask me the same question:
What are you doing to do with yourself for a month and a half?
Sometimes we can be so afraid of free time. We think free time equals laziness, and life wasting. This is a thought that I struggle with as well. Summer vacations in high school were honestly the last time I had more than a few days away from school or work. That's why I plan to make the most of this spare time...here in Europe, and when I return home to Florida. (Because honestly, I will probably take the remainder of the summer to readjust, job hunt, and work on my mental health.)
With all of this in mind, I decided to make a list of things that I want to do during the next couple of months. I feel like I have created a good balance of activities, so I thought I would share. I hope that anyone who finds themselves with some extra time, whether it's a few days or a couple of months, will find some inspiration and encouragement in these goals.
1. Take care of "back burner" tasks.
We all have things that we need to do that aren't necessarily priorities. Maybe you want to clean out your house and take some things to the donation center. Maybe you need to file away that growing stack of mail. Maybe you need to organize your email inbox.
Before I leave Prague, I need to donate clothes (that are either too big, or too warm to take home to Florida), and go through all of my teaching materials to decide what to trash and what to keep. Do I want to spend time doing these things? No. But, will I do them? Yes.
If we place our focus on a project, it can be completed in a matter of hours. Then, you can spend the rest of your free time with the satisfaction of knowing you accomplished something you have been putting off. It's a win-win situation.
Since I have been in Europe, my energy levels have been so much higher. I think it's probably because I typically walk 4-5 miles a day, and I participate in much more physical activity than I was at home. I want to take that to the next level by attempting to go for jogs in the morning and teaching myself some toning exercises. I want to solidify these habits so that I can carry them home with me.
Free time does not always have to be spent on the couch with Netflix and a bowl of popcorn. Put on some workout clothes and break a sweat. Tire yourself out, and then come home and shower and put on your favorite show. Couch time is so much better when you feel like you have earned it.
3. Hobbies, hobbies, hobbies.
You know those things that you would always rather be doing when you are at work or school? Well...that's what free time is for! What are your favorite things in the world?
I plan to get A LOT of reading and writing done this summer. I'm making it a goal to blog most days, and to maybe even finish writing my novel, because guess what? I have the time!
Decide what you want to do, and do it. Cook. Dance. Hike. Paint. Sing. Create or produce something. This is the time.
I think one of the best things a person can do for their mood is getting out of the house. There is a beautiful world out there. Go see it!
If you are in the position to, travel to a place you have always wanted to go. Take a road trip. Get on a plane. Heck, even if this is not financially feasible for you, go discover something new in your own back yard.
I am planning to take full advantage of my remaining time in Prague. I'm going to re-visit favorite places and find new ones. I'm going to see Mumford and Sons in a couple of weeks, and Phantom of the Opera this Friday. I'm then heading over to England to spend two weeks there before I step onto a plane back to the U.S.
The moral of the story is...it doesn't matter where you go or what you do...just experience something new. Make some memories. Breathe some fresh air.
5. Invest in the people you love.
Life is busy, and the victims of our busyness are typically those who are the closest to us. When we are going through the stresses and routines of our every day lives, we often forget to remind our friends and family how much we appreciate and care about them. It's sad but it's true.
Take advantage of a freer schedule and spend time with the people you love. Have a conversation. Treat them to lunch. If their far away, give them a phone call or write them a heartfelt letter. Give them the love and attention that is so often tucked away into the forgotten corners of your heart.
As a final thought, I of course believe that there is nothing wrong with relaxing and being lazy every now and then. However, I'm almost certain that there is no way to go wrong when you are balancing relaxation with the things above. Let's change the way we view our free time, so that we can enjoy it before we get back to work.
Have I missed anything? What do you like to do when you have free time?