Friday, February 5, 2010

Top Ten Ways To Get More Free Time

10) Stubble

According to Wikipedia the average man will shave about 20,000 times between the ages of 15 and 75 for an accumulated time total of five MONTHS of their lives. Months! Now take a look at the cover model for Men's Health. Then check out People's Sexiest Men Alive. Go ahead... I'll wait. Now see that stuff on their face? Stubble! By adopting a shaver level 1 beard for Monday that morphs into a shaver level 4 beard by Friday, you'll not only look better... you'll save literally weeks of your life.

9) Find Exercise Opportunities In Your Daily Routines

We all need to exercise but, as last week's post suggested, it doesn't have to eat into our precious free time. Waiting for the microwave? Drop and give me 20! Don't just take the stairs at work... take the stairs AND a heavy box. To observant colleagues your bizarre box carrying will smack of lunacy, but to the majority of automatons at the office, you'll just look extra hard-working! Work out in front of the television. Bike to work. You get the idea.

8) Take The Bus

Hear me out on this one because, admittedly, riding the bus takes longer than zipping to work in your unstoppable Toyota. Let us first take a moment to consider what many men consider to be completely "free" time: No to a wife, girlfriend, offspring, partner, parent, or priest. Yes to reading, video games, watching sports highlights, eyeball resting, and movies. Now if you're attempting any of the latter list whilst steering past the other stressed out commuters of the world, I might recommend a coffin for your free time hours. However, equip your round trip bus ride with any electronic iSomething and it's like an empty living room traveling with you for maybe 45min a day. You'll also save a boatload of money AND be the thoughtful guy who leaves the car for his girl.

7) Go Digital

As a fellow member of the blogosphere you're probably already banking and shopping online. But have you also banished Blockbuster from your DVD player? Driving anywhere to pick up a movie only to return it a day or two later is a regular siphon on your time. It's time for Netflix or iTunes or XBOX Live or really anything that keeps your butt on the couch.

6) Hire a Housecleaner

This certainly isn't for everyone (including myself at this cash-strapped present) but, if you have even the minimal means, ask yourself this question: "How much money is an hour of free time worth to me?" If your answer is more than the cost of an hour of cleaning (by someone who will appreciate the work in this economy) then you should go for it.

5) Use Your Sick Days

If your aim is to break the office version of Cal Ripken Jr's baseball record by stoically walking through work's front door regardless of your physical or mental state until they nail an Employee of the Month plaque to your aforementioned coffin, I will salute you from my lazy boy/Call of Duty Battlestation. If, however, you're willing to pursue the mission statement of this blog (a happier, healthier life) then take a few sick days even when you're perfectly fine. It's preventative medicine. I recommend a Wednesday.

4) Make More Food

Every Day With Rachel Ray? Seriously? EVERY day? How about, "Once a Week is What you Seek" Ugh. I wish my delete key was working. Here's the only recipe you really need:

176 oz of giant pan
327 oz of cutting board
1/2 of a cow
trough of vegetables
10 tupperware containers
1 vat of sauce

Making multiple servings will save you time throughout the week AND keep you away from fast food at lunch. If you NEED variety in your food week, substitute 7 shots of different sauces for the single vat approach.

3) "One Off" With Your Partner

This one is a particularly essential free time generator for anyone who has children. Answer the following series of questions in your head: Does tiny infant Damien need two sets of eyes staring at his mood swings? Does it take four hands to lift him out of the crib at 6am? Assuming dinner is already made, does it take two mouths to encourage Johnny to start in on his homework? If you answered "no" to any of those questions, then maybe it's time you and partner discuss making "shifts" a larger part of your schedule. Is it unreasonable for you to watch uninterrupted TV from 4pm-5pm on Tuesday if she gets an uninterrupted bath from 6pm-7pm on Thursday? My wife and I keep sane in a world of twin babies by "one offing" overnight feedings, outings with friends, and weekend sleep-ins as well. It's a beautiful thing to play video games guilt free while your partner takes care of the kids. Just make sure the trades are as equal as possible.

2) Schedule Everything

Yes, even sex if need be... though happily my wife and I don't yet. However, I'm referring mostly to your nights out with the guys that will never happen unless someone logs the event into their phone a week in advance. Or the "one offs" mentioned in #3. Or your gym sessions. Or your date nights. Remember the last time you told someone you actually WANT to hang out with that you'll get together "soon." Did it happen? Do you even remember the person's name anymore? True, this is more about the QUALITY of your free time rather than the QUANTITY, but fiddling with semantics is a known time-waster. Moving on...

1) Sleep Less

If there is one debate that I am constantly having with friends and family it is this one. Most of them believe that each person is different and that more sleep obviously equals a more rested state. Unfortunately for them, but fortunately for anyone seeking more time in their lives, their intuitive opinions don't stand up to the science. Sure, everyone is different, but sound research (which you can Google at your leisure) has found that getting between 6.5 and 7.5 SOLID hours of sleep per night is the ideal average. In fact, studies show that people who sleep 9 hours per night are no better off than those who sleep 5 in terms of longevity of life AND overall energy. Two years ago I switched away from the oft-cited 8 hour target to a 7 hour night and, after a short adjustment period of a week or so, have never looked back. Since that time I have actually had a bit MORE energy and about 700 hours of extra living... and plenty of it has been free time. (Despite my small battalion of children)

Next Week: Top Ten Threats To A Solid Night Of Sleep