We all want to do more with our time.
There are all sorts of books, blogs, podcasts, and seminars about how to be more productive. We are constantly inundated with productivity hacks and listicles.
We turn ourselves into productivity machines trying to get more and more done in our days. Because of this, it can feel like any time that we are not checking things off of our to do list is wasted time.
This is a counterproductive mindset to fall into. We need to fight back against this tendency.
To do that, we should schedule unscheduled time.
What Get Measured
Peter Drucker has famously said that what gets measured gets managed.
When we get caught up in the world of productivity, we dive into the things that we can measure. This means that we miss out on things that don’t lend themselves well to measurement.
This makes sense. It is much easier to feel like you are being productive when you can knock discrete items off of your to do list.
Going to the grocery store, washing the dishes, or doing 20 push ups feel more productive than laying on the floor with your baby or having a quiet conversation with your significant other.
These harder to measure things can be valuable uses of our time, but they often take a back seat to more measurable items when we let ourselves get carried away with productivity.
A block of time with your spouse is valuable, even if nothing gets done.
Hanging out with your friends is a good use of time, even if it means you lose some productivity that day.
Getting out of the house and into nature is important, even if it doesn’t feel pressing.
Having free time to decompress or explore your thoughts or pursue creative endeavors matters.
All of these are good uses of time that don’t feel productive. In order to make sure they happen, we need to make time for them in our calendar.
Scheduling Unscheduled Time
This is why I recommend scheduling unscheduled time.
What this means in practice is setting aside blocks of time in your calendar where you don’t need to feel guilty about ignoring your to do list. Give yourself permission not to feel productive during these blocks.
Maybe after work on Tuesdays the whole family ditches their other responsibilities and has dinner and plays a game.
Maybe you get out for a hike for an hour every weekend.
Maybe you schedule at least a few hours every week for time to hang out with friends.
The uses of time that are most important will vary from person to person, but we all have something that feels unproductive that we need to make space for in our lives.
Missing Out on Spontaneity
One objection to this idea that I’ve heard is that it feels more authentic to have these things be spontaneous.
Which is probably true.
Nobody wants to feel like spending time with their spouse is another item on their to do list.
Nobody wants getting outside to feel like a chore.
And that’s fair.
The problem is that if you rely on spontaneity, you may never actually get to the important things.
It’s more important to have that time than to have it feel authentic. Don’t leave the important things up to chance. Actively make time for them.
So go ahead and schedule yourself some unscheduled time.
Join the Conversation!
Do you schedule unscheduled time? What time blocks are important for you to preserve? What tricks have you found to making time for these things? Let us know in the comments!