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You Have Too Much Free Time

In this episode of The GenTwenty Podcast, Nicole and Marina discuss an article written by Cassie Holmes from CNBC titled “‘Too much free time won’t make you happier,’ says psychologist-how many hours you really need in a day.”

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Nicole Booz: Welcome back to the GenTwenty podcast I’m Nicole.

Marina Crouse: And I’m Marina! Today, we’re talking about why you have too much free time.

Okay, so Nicole found this article by Cassie Holmes about how too much free time won’t make you happier and if you’re like me, you’re thinking? no no I want free time I want all the free time. Ah, but this writer and researcher found that the sweet spot is actually like two to five free time hours free time hours is that right? And I don’t know about you but all of a sudden I thought well 5 hours sounds like a lot of free time.

I don’t know what I would do with myself so Nicole what do you think are are we having too much free time is there such a thing?

Nicole Booz: Yeah, so I think it’s really interesting because as we were talking about as we were discussing this potential topic we were talking about the difference between free time and downtime and Marina had mentioned how she ends up spending a lot of her downtime just scrolling on Instagram or Tiktok… and I do the same thing on Instagram or I just on you know, news sites or literally whatever is in front of me for 5 minutes and I don’t really consider that “free time.” But when you consider those pockets of time throughout the day like 10 minutes here, 20 minutes there, 30 minutes will in a waiting room, that really adds up to a lot of time throughout the day.

Marina Crouse: It does and you know I when I’m out and about and I know I’m going to have time waiting like enough to go an office or the doctor’s office, I usually carry book with me because I know myself and I know I will scroll so I almost always have a book or journal with me so that when I have downtime in that case or free time I will use it but I think about you know after work my free time before bed that like window of like okay, finishing work. Maybe do a workout. Cook dinner and then you have a couple hours before bed I’m in a routine where I just watch Tv because I try not to watch it on the weekends. Although it’s ah it’s a bold goal but that it used to be that after work I would eat dinner and then I would work on my part time job or side hustle and I recognized okay like that’s not healthy.

You need to take advantage of your free time but I don’t know what to do with my free time and so it’s interesting because obviously when my schedule is packed really full. It’s overwhelming I feel like I can’t breathe or get my head on straight. But when I have un-alotted free time I don’t know what to do with myself.

Nicole Booz: Yeah I think for me for part of my free time, honestly, I just like to be around myself and like lay in silence like I like.

Marina Crouse: Like middle school laying on the floor Taylor Swift playing staring at the ceiling.

Nicole Booz: Exactly like I just I don’t know that’s like relaxing and it’s like I don’t want all this like stimuli around.

So in further in this article she discusses the idea of being “time affluent” which is basically that when you like the way you’re spending your time makes you feel valuable or not valuable. So if you’re just sitting there scrolling you probably don’t feel like that’s a very valuable use of your time. But if you’re doing it like exercising.

There’s a couple things she says in the article to make your time feel more valuable so she says get moving practice acts of kindness, experience awe, and witness accomplishment.

I think that’s interesting because to me that’s just like things that add value to your day as a whole but not necessarily adding free time to your life or making use of that free time because when I think “oh, I’m going to exercise” to me, that’s not like a use of my free time, that’s kind of like a checkmark on my to do list, right?

Marina Crouse: Same. It’s like you have to get that done in order to like live a healthier life. Allegedly.

Nicole Booz: Allegedly, that’s what they say. I just think it’s interesting because in my schedule I don’t have the same amount of time every day for free time things and like we have a a daily rhythm we follow in our house with our family.

And there are ways that I use my time, and I think like the whole reason she kind of like pursued this research is because she didn’t feel like she had enough hours in the day and I think what enough hours in the day means varies for me on like.

A daily basis like when I look at my to do list. It’s like some days. It is work heavier some days. It’s home heavier. You know what I mean?

Marina Crouse: Yeah, do you know what? just popped up for me when you said that I think the only times I feel like I don’t have enough hours in the day is when I’m trying to get specific types of work done on a specific timeline and really, it’s that I don’t have enough energy in the day I’m because I and obviously if I you know scrolled less, there’s always things you can do less of that will give you more time.

But, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself because I don’t have that same energy I need to accomplish a certain task and I wonder if the concept of productivity really is what drives the like free time downtime relaxation problem because for me free time.

Like on the weekends. It’s when I have free time and I will usually try to plan something with friends or go for a walk or do a house project rearrange my room reorganize furniture. Whatever but downtime to me is when I am trying to relax and I’m making no plans.

And yeah, too much downtime like if I had a whole weekend of downtime I would just be kind of sad at the end because I would have just laid on the couch resting. But this idea where you have to I think we often feel like oh my free time has to be productive. It has to have value but we are so trained that productivity is like a work thing where you’re like accomplishing tasks and not experiencing it or living in the moment. So I don’t know that just came up for me and I’m like something to journal about.

Nicole Booz: Yeah, yeah I Think so for me when it comes to like being productive like I feel when I don’t mind having some downtime in the day but I don’t know exactly what the hours point of my downtime where because yeah, downtime to means like not doing anything productive for free time is a directed activity that I would consider relaxing if that makes. Ah, yeah.

Marina Crouse: Yeah, you can tell we’re writers because we have very specific definitions for very similar things.

Nicole Booz: Yeah I feel like you have to you know define it as how it is to you? And the way you’re speaking and it’s so in downtime like if I’m I don’t know if I have 5 minutes and I’m like scrolling on my phone and like I can you know see I have the 45 minute timer set on my phone for Instagram for example and after 45 minutes is up which is usually you know within 45 minutes of me waking I’m just getting it’s more like yeah, but it’s definitely before noon every day and I’ll be like okay so I’ve already had 45 minutes of downtime so far.

Nicole Booz: And it’s like is this like some days I’m like oh it’s fine I don’t really have the energy to do anything else this is how I want to be sending my time but then in other other days I’m like this is an absolute waste of time like this is a huge shit show and I need to stop doing this and it’s really interesting how that like varies day to day.

Marina Crouse: And it’s I think it comes back to that energy where if I’m tired and I have un-alotted time I don’t know what to do with myself because obviously it’s like five pm it’s too early to go to bed too late to take a nap.

You know the but the fun thing about being an adult is that you can make your own decisions. But I think this idea of having activities that you genuinely like to do that. Fuel your soul or get you excited and aren’t productive like productive in the sense of like an end goal of I don’t know financial gain is how I kind of tend to think productive productivity and it’s not I swear there’s a point here.

I feel like having dedicated things you enjoy to do like Cassie was saying or writing you know, walking going for a walk enjoying art going to a concert… things that enrich your life just because you enjoy them and not for any other reason is a really important way to spend our free time that we often put off because it’s like oh I don’t have enough time for that I need to be productive I need to get stuff down at the house I need to like start 5 more businesses and things like that where there’s always I don’t know these to do lists kind of run our lives and I think when we’re given free time.

Nicole Booz: Yeah, she talks about having a general sense of purpose and how having too much free time takes away from your sense of purpose. So I think part of this too is like feeling like you have this purpose and productivity in other areas of your life because, for example, like with work when I am not feeling I’m being my most productive I feel like not that I don’t deserve free time but that I want to be using my free time to be continuing to work towards my work goals.

Marina Crouse: Oh my brain my brain just thinks you don’t deserve to rest because you’re not working hard enough. We’ll work on that in another ah episode guys.

Nicole Booz: And things like that.

Nicole Booz: You know? yeah, that’s something else. We need to talk about? Yeah I I mean we all deserve to rest and I think it’s not that like for me, it’s not that I don’t like it’s just that I want to use my free time to work when I feel like my sense of purpose is like not being fulfilled and on days where like specifically weekends where daily rhythm is a little different.

We have more flexibility in our schedule and such those are the days where I find myself being like oh like I can find all these pockets of time to like do work. Yeah, which is.

Marina Crouse: I have to actively not work on weekends which usually means I channel my frenetic energy into house projects.

Last night I built furniture. I’m turning a little clothing wardrobe rack into a plant stand. I think just being in my thirties and realizing that the only person can who can decide how I spend my time is me. It’s like really powerful but also a little bit overwhelming.

Nicole Booz: And good overwhelming.

Marina Crouse: Yeah and I think that comes up with too much free time or too little free time is that we feel overwhelmed with not enough space to catch our breaths or too much time to sit and contemplate how we’re spending our time. So yeah, too much free time.

Nicole Booz: Yeah, yeah, and I think yeah I think honoring your energy day to day and for me personally I think I’ve mentioned this before in past episodes. But I don’t operate on a daily to do list I operate on a weekly to do list and obviously like there are things in there that’s I have to have this done by a certain day or whatever. But in general I can look at my to do list on any given day at any given time and be like this is what I have the energy for right now and I feel like that helps me also understand a little bit better when I need to use my energy for relaxing whether that means like breathing and taking a long hot bath it means going on a long walk means getting out of my house or perhaps going to Target or you know doing any like number of things that I find relaxing because these things aren’t meant to be your whole life I think they’re meant to compliment your your work and what it doesn’t even have to be work that gives you a sense of purpose but what makes you feel most valuable and where your talents are most utilized.

Marina Crouse: This has been another episode of The GenTwenty Podcast! Thanks so much for listening. We’d love for you to leave us a reading and a review and we’ll see you next time, bye.

About the Author

Nicole Booz

Nicole Booz is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of GenTwenty, GenThirty, and The Capsule Collab. She has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and is the author of The Kidult Handbook (Simon & Schuster May 2018). She currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two sons. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s probably hiking, eating brunch, or planning her next great adventure.