Free Time, Now What?

After a semester filled with many long but wonderful work days, the LCs suddenly experienced a drastic shift in our day-to-day. We switch from a constant on-the-go lifestyle to a 2-month time span of doing nothing. This time is better known as our time off-contract, aka our winter break! At first, I was really wondering how on earth I would fill all this empty time with things to do. I knew that, to some extent, I welcomed this break as I needed a little bit of time to decompress from the semester. But after a few days of sleeping in, having home-cooked meals, and catching up on time to myself, it became hard to figure out how to fill all these days with so few things to do. For me personally, this was especially a challenge as I thrive in a busy environment, with an on-the-go lifestyle every day. So now to all of a sudden have hours of time to fill over several weeks, I needed to figure out how to productively use my time. I needed purpose in my day, and I wanted to feel like I was doing something useful at some point.

I knew it was important for me to figure out how to bring purpose to my days even when there was not much that I had to accomplish. The best way that I found to do this was to incorporate a little thing each day that made me feel I had purpose and intent in the day to accomplish something. I quickly realized that reading was a great way to do just that. And, it was so easy to fill my time because I could read as much as I wanted to! The first week I was home, I read three books just because I had unlimited time to do as I pleased. For me, this was a valuable way to realize that I need to do a better job of incorporating reading into my busy, everyday life, even when I am on the road or working with my residential chapter. It helps me to refocus my energy and rejuvenate before hitting the next task. And for break, I loved that even though I had very little on my daily to-do list, I found purpose in the time I spent reading and being taken away into whatever land I was reading about.

Another thing that really filled my time was the opportunity to spend quality time with my family. As LCs, we spend so much time with collegians and the chapters we work with, so this time to focus on our family is long anticipated. For me, I took every opportunity I had to spend time with my family, knowing that, come January, that time would be limited again. This meant scheduling my day around family dinner time at 6 p.m., and making sure I was always around at some point before or after dinner to hang out with my favorite people, especially my adorable 2-year-old brother. He quickly figured out that I had a lot of time on my hands so we made sure to spend as much time as possible playing baseball, reading books, and playing with playdough together. It is always great to spend free time with the people you care most about.

Lastly, I knew that this was a rare period in life where I would have several weeks off of work at a time. As LCs, we are working around the clock for about 3-4 months, then we have about a month and a half off, and then we hit the ground running again for the spring. To be given several weeks of time off work to spend as I please is a rarity in the real world, and while I was originally dreading filling the time, it became a way to relax and rejuvenate before the next year ahead. Outside of the time spent with family and spent reading, it gave me time to check in on my friendships and relationships with some of my favorite people, like my friends from college who had landed themselves all over the world. I traveled to Boston to meet up with several different friends – including several fellow Sigma Kappas – and we braved the cold together to catch up on our post-grad lives. I also visited New York City (see the photo in front of the famous Rockefeller Center Christmas tree!), and got to experience my first major snowstorm (it was the bomb-genesis that arrived just a few days into 2018!), and spend time with both family and friends.

The biggest lesson I learned from this time off is that it is so important to take time for yourself. And not only is it important to do that when it is given to you, but it is also important to find a way to weave in these moments into everyday life. I may not be able to travel to see friends for a while, but I can certainly give them a call or a text to check in. Same goes for the time with family. This break taught me to value these moments and this time that we are given – it goes by faster than we realize. I hope the next time you find yourself with a big chunk of time, maybe these suggestions will help you find value and purpose in those moments. Or, on your busiest days, I hope you feel encouraged to pick up the phone and give a family member or friend a call. They will likely brighten your spirits and give you even more reasons to smile that day – even when it may be busy as can be.

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