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A reader asked me in an email: “How much time should I plan as free time? Should I plan that time in big chuncks of time or better distributed?

My answer was pretty simple. Don’t plan your free time, plan your working hours.

Plan working hours in stead of free time

In stead of planning free time,you should schedule your working hours and put them to a limit. This has three main reasons: Parkinson’s law, rewarding yourself and productivity spots

Parkinson’s law

I’ve covered Parkinson’s law before on this blog. The idea of Parkinson’s law is: ‘Works expands with the amount of time you give it.’ Which means if you give 3 hours to a presentation, you will finish it in a good way, but if you give 4 hours to a presentation, you will finish it and you will look for ‘that perfect picture’ for an extra hour. When you give extra time for a project which doesn’t require it, the time will be used and the time won’t be used in a produtive way.

If you have more attention in planning your free time than planning in your working hours, you will give a lot of time to work which may not even need it. You will get the job done and you will do a lot of work which isn’t required for the actual job. Useful? Not that much. If you assign just a couple of hours on the paper, you will work with a deadline and you will have to finish it. This means less tweaking until perfection, but more time to enjoy life.

Rewarding yourself

Free time can be an actual reward to all the hard work. If you’ve scheduled in 3 hours of free time, you will take those for granted. But if you’ve scheduled in 3 hours of working hours, you will work really hard to get the actual job done and the free time will be a reward to your hard work!

Yes, you will know that you have free time in half an hour, but you want to get the job done or your free time will be necessary to finish your work. This means you are working harder which results in a more satisfied feeling accompanied with free time!

Productivity spots

I fall asleep in the late afternoon. Right before dinner I am worth absolutely nothing. And I know that. I rock at 11am and 8pm. Serious, that is the time where I get the most work done. Because I know that, I try to schedule my work in those hours. I won’t schedule working on an assignment at 5pm. But I will write a blog post around 8pm.

You need to figure out where your productivity spots are. When are you the most productive? When are you completely the opposite of productive? Schedule your working activities in your productive hours. Enjoy your non-productive periods even more when you don’t have anything to do. I hate it when I need to get something done when I feel like sleeping, but I love to lay around for an hour or so, just doing nothing. I know what I will do won’t be very good, so I don’t feel bad at all!

Conclusion

I can’t advice you to schedule your free time. I can advice you to schedule working hours. This is because limiting your working hours makes you more productive (with Parkinson’s law), make your free time more rewarding and you can do nothing in your non-productive hours! Have fun scheduling and have even more fun executing! What do you think about this?

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