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How to Create Meaningful Free Time

When it comes to college, every student expects their schoolwork to keep them busy. In fact, some might say it’s almost impossible to get a moment to themselves or to hang out with friends. But without a doubt, we all need a break sometimes whether it be from school, work or any other everyday activities and what we do with our free time can actually benefit us for the long run. That is, as long as we don’t waste it. With that being said, how can we create meaningful free time? 

In order to make sure our free time is meaningful, we first need to figure out how to get that time in the first place. As mentioned, school and work can get in the way, so how do we manage to find time? It all comes down to scheduling, time management and focusing on what is important. Take a moment to plan out a schedule and choose days where you can focus on your top priorities, for instance any homework that has a due date coming up. Ask yourself what needs to be completed as soon as possible. Once you have your top priorities sorted out, you can start planning when you can have your days off to take a break. 

Some people might argue and say that they can not afford having free time. Sometimes there is just too much going on and taking a break might delay us. But taking a break is important, especially for your health. According to the American Psychological Association, “While it might seem obvious that breaks are refreshing, it’s less clear how to maximize their benefit. ... But research is giving us a deeper understanding of breaks, revealing that regularly detaching from your work tasks—both during the workday and in your off-hours—can help restore energy in the short term and prevent burnout in the long term,” (Weir, 2019, p. 40). 

Great examples of meaningful free time can be anything that is productive and helpful for you. For instance, exercise is a great activity that has positive effects on your mental and physical health. Some more ways are cleaning your house or dorm room to provide a more positive space, perhaps getting into a book to gain more knowledge, creating art to release built up stress or depression, going outdoors to take in some sun and enjoy nature or catching up with family and friends to uplift your mood and allow you to have fun doing group activities. There is an endless range of choices that you can make that will benefit you personally. All it takes is to find something you enjoy and spend your free time doing it.

However, there are also many ways that can waste your free time. Today, technology has taken over most of our lives and prevents us from being productive. Examples are binge watching Netflix or Youtube, scrolling through social media, and playing video games for far too long. These are only a few time wasters, but they are pretty common nowadays. An article on a website called Healthline, which is reviewed by many doctors with experience, explained how our technology actually hurts us. Constantly looking at screens can give us eye strain, which gives us symptoms such as headaches, neck and shoulder pain and blurred vision. More problems are the development of bad body structure, emotional issues from social media, and sleep problems (Pietrangelo, 2019).

To get some personal answers from real life people, we interviewed two students on Idaho State University's campus to see their views on creating meaningful free time. Emalee Hunt, who plans to major in Pharmacy and Skylar Cole, who majors in Graphic Design gave us their thoughts on the topic. 

What does it mean to have meaningful free time? 

“To me, it’s time where I can do whatever I want and focus on myself without [having] stress from school or a job [that’s] hanging over me,” Skylar answered. 

When asked the same question to Emalee she replied with,  “I would say it means spending it being productive. For instance, going shopping for my house or cleaning up to prepare for the week or going on a walk.” 

Despite college making us busy all the time, how do you manage to get free time? 

“I usually don’t have much free time on my hands, but I plan out my week and pick a day where I have less things to do and make time for myself,” said Emalee. 

What do you do during your free time that you consider meaningful? 

Skylar replied with, “[When] on my own, I draw, read, or work on coding for fun. If I want to hangout with friends, we go for short hikes or to parks.”

In summary, creating meaningful free time is important, especially with all the stress going on at school, work and the whole wide world. If you have free time and don’t know what to do with it, there are many activities going on at ISU. Check out the Student Activities Board or perhaps join a club on campus! Find all your options under the Campus Life tab in Bengal Web.