Having loads of free time is great! Right? It sounds wonderful to most people, and if you say to anyone; ‘I’ve got lots of free time, the chances are they will say ‘oh, you are so lucky!’. Having too much free time is essential for a healthy work-life balance but, and here comes the rub, sometimes free time can become a burden rather than a pleasure. Try telling anyone this and the chances are they’ll say you don’t know how lucky you are and compare their situation to yours, demonstrating why, in their belief, you are in a much luckier position than they are. In other words, they are saying, stop complaining and cease looking the gift horse in the mouth.
The other difficulty that you may encounter, is when others take it on themselves to worry about your ‘situation’. This can exacerbate your own negative thoughts; having unwarranted and unwelcome concern from others can feed into our own. This can be particularly true if your free time originates from loss of, or being between work. Even if you are in a good place mentally and financially, having others expressing their concerns can create worries that need not exist. So how do you preserve it as an asset, a positive factor, rather than a hardship?
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From a practical point of view, the free time can be used to help lessen the amount of work, that you share with others, for them to have to do. Taking over what were shared jobs; cooking and cleaning, for example, can re-address the balance of hours you all put in towards supporting your shared lifestyle and thus allows you to continue to contribute towards it in a constructive and purposeful way.
This is a great Italian word which roughly translates into ‘spending time in a meaningless but delightful way’. This is surely something a lot of us have difficulty in achieving. We tend to live by social norms where it is seen that activity with purpose is good and otherwise that we are just wasting time. But maybe the Italians have it right. Maybe we should be enjoying and celebrating time as it is, with no end goal, nothing being produced as a result, and for no other reason than to just enjoy ‘being’. Too much free time, in Italy, might be celebrated!
It’s reassuring to have a pattern in our life that unfolds as expected; we go to work Monday to Friday and the weekends turn up at the end of the week for us to enjoy our leisure pursuits and to spend time with friends and family. This structure can give our lives a sense of purpose and meaning and when this is removed, we can feel lost, cast adrift, without a map or north star to guide us and with no sense of where our destination is. At these times we need to hold onto positive thoughts, reflect on our past and what we have learned from it, and try not to project a negative outcome for the future. It’s not always easy to avoid slipping into worrying or attempting to guess what will happen but if we can instead spend our time on things we can or want to change, and have faith to let the rest sort itself out, life becomes much easier.
Too much free time at work can be a telltale sign that your role at work has been marginalized. Be sure to act quickly. If your repeated requests for additional work or projects falls by the wayside, you better start using that free time to work on your resume.
Keep reading: Bored at Work? Do This!