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Whatever Happened To "Free Time'? A Guide To Mindful Micro-Tasking

Updated: Feb 24, 2021

"Who knows where the time goes."

-Nina Simone

Remember "free time" - that time after work when we'd play, hang out with friends, read, goof off or just be? I honestly don't. It happened slowly, cumulatively, with smartphones, laptops, apps, podcasts, YouTube, social media and, more recently, the work-from-home pandemic year(s) when days lost all form and structure. Our devices are pretty much always nearby and, by extension, so is our work. Or Twitter. Or Netflix.

For those of us lucky enough to work remotely or flexibly, boundaries around work have become virtually nonexistent, bleeding into all hours of the day or night. And let's not forget kids (who have a claim on all our time, free or otherwise), especially those homebound distance-learners or formerly hatched young adults who've temporarily returned to the nest.

What's left in, around, after or before all this stuff on our plates? Not much, it seems. It's really weird -- the days stuck at home are long. Interminably long. Most of us no longer have long commutes. So why does it feel like there's no free time anymore? Call it time-creep or time-suck, blame Mark Zuckerberg or the inventors of Zoom, but regardless - at the end of the day we're looking at a free time desert.

For the moment, it might help to simply break down the endless to-do list into smaller, more bite-sized pieces. Multi-tasking is good but can be hard to do mindfully. How about micro-tasking? (Is that a thing? Let's make it one!) Everything is easier when broken down into smaller chunks. Look for time saving hacks anywhere you can find them. It's one of the reasons we love Peloton and other exercise apps that offer 10, 15 and 20 minute classes that are a lot easier to squeeze in. Hopefully - with the time you save - you can build a boundary around at least a few minutes of regenerative down-time every day.

Here are just a few "light bites" - tiny on time, big on benefits - for your money, body and future:

  • Adding fresh or dried herbs and spices to any dish can boost your immune system and your health - it's easy and takes no time. Keep fresh herbs in a jar of water in your fridge and store your dried spices where you can easily find them. Be like Michelle and alphabetize them!

  • What are the benefits? Some herbs (like basil) are anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antioxidant. Others like cinnamon can help improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar as well as suppress appetite. And cilantro can help reduce LDL (bad cholesterol while) raising HDL and good cholesterol levels.

  • Create "distraction-free" periods of time (for work or play) by turning off alerts on your devices or simply powering down your phone.

  • Download a personal finance app like Mint or YNAB. A new one we love is PocketGuard, which categorizes and organizes your expenses, monthly bills and subscriptions into tabs and graphs.

  • Thinking about investing? Check out a target date retirement fund. It's just one fund, but it ticks a lot of boxes.

We can do a lot in a short time with the right support. Check out Woman’s Compass Forum for more about our 3-month course and other online programs.

Get grounded for life with Woman's Compass Forum.

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