Are You Celebrating “Found Time”?

Pop quiz! Let’s say you have a meeting on your busybusybusy calendar that gets cancelled at the last minute. You are faced with the delicious dilemma of What on Earth to Do with this Found Time. What do you do?

A) Answer emails/ messages
B) Scroll mindlessly through social media
C) Do something that brings you joy, even if it’s a seemingly small thing
D) Continue saving the planet in that hour

If you answered A or B, you are like me: normal! (We failed the pop quiz, but it feels good to be part of a flaw-fully normal group, doesn’t it?)

If you answered C, you win the game of life! You are excused from class because you are already savoring found time. Now go roam the halls and savor some more, Champ.

If you answered D, you’re the worst. (But solider on with your planet-saving stuff; we might find you annoying but the world needs people like you.)

When we’re granted the gift of found time, why is it our inclination to squander—rather than savor—it?

It usually comes down to two things:

Thing #1: We spend time on things we value in the short term.

  • Some of us value a go-go-go work ethic, for example (hi! Me too), and when faced with an unexpected free hour, we’re absolutely going to bow down to the “Get ‘er Done” Gods for bestowing even! more! time! to get this week’s TPS Report done. We’ve fully subscribed to the cult of productivity and we’re willing to forfeit an hour of found “fun time” for the sweet relief of task completion.TPS Report
  • Some of us value zone-out activities because we’re fighting back the flames of burnout, and an unexpected free hour lets us unplug and dodge a(nother) nervous breakdown while poking around our newsfeed and Instagram for a while.

“In the Moment You” might be pleased with your decision to prioritize work or social media in that hour of found time, but would “End of Day You” feel the same? We make our best decisions in hindsight (*sigh*)…so looking backwards after tucking yourself into bed, would you be content &/or impressed with yourself for how you spent any bonus pockets of time? (No need to answer out loud.)

I care less about Innocuous Thing #1 than I do about Insidious Thing #2.

Thing #2: We are woefully unprepared to prioritize joy/ vitality/ anything meaningful in our schedules.

Many of us keep on keeping on with work, or default to social media scrolling, because we don’t have anything better to do when those rare moments of found time open up.

It’s simply a failure of imagination…a failure to pre-plan what might light us up, what might infuse energy into our lives for any given block of time.

But this problem is super-solvable! Here is the solution:

List 10 things you’d like to do the next time a free hour becomes magically available in your day.

Examples to get you going:

  • Go for a quick walk
  • Call Dad
  • Read a chapter
  • Look up new recipe ideas
  • Brush and play with Bananarama the dog
  • Plan a fabulous date night
  • Take a module in an online course
  • Bring Sandy in the marketing department a surprise latté
  • Get on the yoga mat and stretch for a bit
  • Relocate somewhere creative and map out strategic ideas for the business
  • Have a quickie
  • Revisit progress on my current goals
  • Book the flight and hotel for an upcoming trip
  • Meditate/ pray
  • Take a nap
  • Skip the rest of the day?

Sanity check: If you’re on the clock at an in-person job and your team meeting gets cancelled, I realize you can’t just stick the Gone Fishing sign up on your computer monitor and bugger off for the hour. I know not all work hours are flexible, in every organization. But if a free hour opens up, how might you spend even 10 minutes of that unexpected free time? Many of the examples in the list above can be completed in just a few minutes. (Including the quickie.)

I encourage you to create similar lists for things to do if a free evening/ weekend opens up, too.

All of a sudden you don’t have the kids this weekend? Be prepared to live, rather than go through the motions on Saturday and Sunday.

Your Thursday night committee meeting is unexpectedly postponed? Be prepared to live, rather than go through the motions of a typical ho-hum evening.

Leap Day, Baby!!And when the calendar blesses you with an extra day of life, like on a leap day? Oh dear God, this one makes my pulse quicken. Can we all just make this a global national holiday every four years? IT’S A BLOODY BONUS DAY OF LIFE! How can you prepare to take this day and live, rather than go through the motions of a typical week day? I am taking the leap day off this month and I all but insist you do it with me. I can’t start a movement alone, friends.

You are allowed to prioritize enjoyment—living like you mean it—in every bonus hour of time that opens up. Let’s be prepared to savor those rare gifts of time, rather than squandering them by responding to messages or checking our newsfeeds. They can wait, but your (limited) life will not.

Jodi Wellman

P.S.: You’ll definitely savor, not squander your time by preordering my upcoming book, You Only Die Once: How to Make It to the End with No Regrets!

P.P.S.: Let’s do Instagram together?

P.P.P.S.: Oh and just in case you missed it… I’d love you forever if you took 16 minutes out of your life to watch my TEDx talk!


Related articles you just might love...

How to (Sort of) Gain 8.68 Years of Life
What’s Your Kiss of Death (out of 50 Vices)?
How Scarcity Can Help Us Live Like We Mean It