How to get more Free Time

You don’t always realize just how big of an impact small changes can make.  I’m speaking from experience, because I recently made a small change that effectively bought me an extra 65 days of vacation a year.

Human beings are creatures of habit.  You stick to a daily routine because it’s comfortable, it’s what you’re used to, and it’s what feels “normal.”  For the past year, it was “normal” for me to spend two hours a day in my car, stuck in traffic, driving to and from work.

It’s what had to be done — or at least this is what I kept telling myself for 20 months.

The short version of the story goes like this:

  • My girlfriend Cassie was diagnosed with cancer.
  • I was at risk of losing my day job.
  • In order to make ends meet while my girlfriend focused on her health, I accepted another job in another town.
  • We never considered moving because it wasn’t a priority to us.

It wasn’t a priority to us because it wasn’t an option.  Or at least it wasn’t an option we considered.  We only “woke up” to the possibility of moving closer to my job after Cassie was cured, and found a teaching position in the same area where I work.

Things happened quickly.  We turned in our month’s notice to end our current lease and shopped around for a new place.  We slowly moved our belongings to our new home each day, packing our cars full the night before and stopping by to unload them after work.

It’s done. We’ve moved.

Consequently, what used to be a stressful, hour-long endeavor traveling 30 miles in bumper-to-bumper traffic is now a quick 10-minute commute.  I’ve reclaimed 2 hours of my workday.  That’s 10 hours a week, or over 500 hours a year — or how I like to look at it, nearly 65 days of “vacation.”

All of that time that was previously being lost to rush hour can now be spent doing more fulfilling things, like hobbies!  Piano!  Writing!  Exercising?  Whatever the case may be, I’m definitely excited about my new Free Time!

Have you ever made a small change in your routine that gave you more Free Time?  Please share your tips and stories in the comments.

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6 Responses to “How to get more Free Time”

#1 Barbara on 22, Oct, 2010 at 8:46 pm

Talk about commuting… I returned to the US and my family prepared an animal friendly apartment for me. I then started interviewing and landed a job 87 miles away. Finding an apartment that would take 2 dogs and 2 cats wasn’t working so I commuted and house-hunted for an entire year and a half. My then job was then 20 minutes away. I lost that job and was hired at a school 1.5 miles from my home. I can go to work anyway I choose now, only issue is that there are three hills between here and there… making for a sweat-filled, calorie-burning bicycle commute of 15 minutes.

#2 John Comberiate on 23, Oct, 2010 at 12:29 am

Yes, I have. I quit my job. So instead of commuting 2 hours each day, working 9 hours, going to school at night and doing volunteer work for Toastmasters while also doing consulting projects for free to help my school, I now have those extra 11 hours free during 5 days of the week. The only side effect is I no longer have an income.

Any suggestions on how to get paid consulting work are much appreciated.

#3 Mona on 25, Oct, 2010 at 1:43 pm

Good for you Shaun!

Here’s one thing that’s been taking up more time than it should in my life and I’ve realized that it’s only an excuse for not focussing on the things I really need to be doing. I come home every evening and log onto the Internet. I’ve convinced myself that I’m doing a whole lot of productive stuff while surfing the information superhighway. The truth is that about 5% of the stuff is productive…keeping in touch with people, learning new things…and so on. The remaining 95% of the time, I’m just wasting time. I’m just whiling away a couple of precious spare hours that I have, doing absolutely nothing worthwhile.

I’m in the process of breaking this awful habit and when I do, I KNOW that I’ll have time for the really important things…all those things I’ve been dying to learn or do for the last so many years and always claimed I never had the time to do!

Thanks for the reminder.

#4 Alex on 26, Oct, 2010 at 4:43 pm

Glad to hear you made the move, Shaun. I was making a similar commute when I first started there. But once I moved down the road, my evenings seemed so much longer.

Now I’m back to commuting 20 min or so each way. The fact that I like my job eases the fact that I lose between 40 min and an hour to traffic every day.

At any rate, I’m glad to see you have more time to update.


#5 RudiAnt Pe on 26, Oct, 2010 at 9:35 pm

You’re very right Shaun one should be changing routines and not to be sticked to habits for ever. I do completely agree with that.
And from my experience, I could made some positive reboots in my life too, since as late as I was a college student and was young in Bogotá Colombia; I should do it, or if not, would be then died I swear. I’m 72 old now.

And not only that but think is a MUST do it continueing to change. You wanted or not, life is a learning time, yes, and its better to take this in a joyful mood. There’s a very good book that left all those old patterns aside: “Illness as a Way” or “Krankheit als Weig” in german, Random House Mond. Read it you’ll not be sorry.

Best regards,

#6 Rich A. on 28, Oct, 2010 at 10:06 pm

Two of my boys play basketball and just started practicing with their teams two nights a week. They’re at practice three hours a night. I drop them off and pick them up, so I’ve decided to plan specific things for me to work on during those 3-hour blocks of time. Sometimes I just work on catching up with email, other times I’m writing posts for my blog. In a sense, their practice creates more havoc for the family, but in another sense, I’ve been able to repurpose the time in order to get stuff done.

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