There Is No Free Time

Student leaders in college tell me all the time that they're busy. They have classes, homework, group projects, clubs and organization meetings, a social life, and every three weeks they do their laundry. Hah! They think that's busy. (Yes, some are really busy as non-traditional students with careers or kids and the like, but most exaggerate how busy they really are.)

I gently remind them about how much busier things will be when they have a job with a possible commute and keeping up with tax records and bills.

I continue with my not-so-gentle reminder that they'll be even busier when they have their own apartment and have to cook for themselves, dust, vacuum, clean their living space, and repair what's broken... on top of their career, commute, and never-ending bills.

I then share in my not-gentle-at-all reminder how much busier life becomes if and when they get into a relationship and then get married. Any time a relationship doubles, the rules change. Now it's busier because your sharing your time between two people and you still have the job, commute, taxes, bills, and pile of chores. 

My shocking reminder continues when they buy their own house and add the hard labor of maintaining the property and landscaping to their busy schedule, while continuing to impress their soulmate, advancing in their career, dealing with bill collections, doing the indoor house chores (in more rooms), and repairing what's broken (and something's always broken). 

I continue with my scary reminder of how truly busy things can be when you add an infant or two to the already as-busy-as-you-can-be equation. Now, you're not only sharing your time, but splitting your time and duties as a parent. Free time? What free time?!  :)  You sleep in your free time. Just wait until those kids have soccer and gymnastics and dance and Cub Scouts. Oh my.

At this point in my jab in the students' fairly free schedules, I share the idea that there is no such thing as free time

Humor me. Tell me what you do in your free time. (Pause for your response.) Read. TV. Video games. Nap. Exercise. Socialize. Social media. Hike. If you're doing anything like this in your free time, it's no longer free time. It's used time, productive or not. What I'm saying at this point in the seminar is that as we progress in our life and add more priorities to our everyday experience, we begin to remove nonessential and non-priority activities from our "free time," which means there's probably as much time as we want or need for something we deem essential and priority. 

Keep humoring me. What are you doing in your life, relationships, and college or professional career that is nonessential and non-priority that, if something more important and meaningful came up, you could stop doing? Right there, that's your answer to any excuse you've ever given about "not having the time."