Maximizing Your Free Time

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In the busy stages of your college lives, your one plea can be for just some spare time to relax and take your mind off of your stresses and responsibilities.  In the scarce opportunities, however, many of us find ourselves accomplishing nothing, streaming TV shows for hours at a time, and often feeling worse than when we were busy.

Maximizing the fun in my free time is a skill that I'm still trying to fix but have tackled enough to share some approaches with you.  Hopefully the next time you look at your daily agenda and are pleasantly surprised at its emptiness, you'll have a few ideas of how to create meaningful experiences in those time slots.

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Depending on your major, coming to college may put to a halt your creative energy.  The easy thing to do to appease such a craving is to turn on Netflix or Hulu and visualize someone else's creation.  While there are some interesting productions, you would do better to read someone else's work, or even create your own.

In the past few months, I've developed an appreciation for poetry from some of the greats like Emily Dickinson, T.S. Eliot, and Robert Frost.  I've even read a few short stories and novels.  The difference in reading and viewing is that as a reader, you create the image of the story in your head, so you have to think a little more than usual.  You may even feel led to, like myself, write your own pieces.  Challenge yourself; see if you can write a Shakespearean sonnet or a compelling short story.  This practice could help the creative process and aid idea generating for all phases of life.

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Another way I like to use time is exercising.  Sometimes I'm playing pickup sports, and sometimes I'm working out.  Getting active is the main objective.  Fitness may not be a personal hobby or goal for you, and that's perfectly okay.  However, numerous studies show that exercise can help you clear your head and allow for healthier thoughts, not just a healthy body.  

If exercising seems to be a no-go, perhaps you could develop a new hobby.  Learn to paint, fish, cook, or do origami.  The sky is the limit on what you're able to teach yourself or accomplish.

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Alone time may be your biggest necessity.  My suggestion is to use it experiencing more natural beauty, or even just being outside.  Sometimes trapping yourself in your dorm may be provoking more negative, isolationist thoughts.  Take a drive on the Natchez Trace and listen to a new genre of music.  Walk through the Brick Streets and view all the unique parts of downtown Clinton.

You have been working so hard by yourself that you forget the value of relationships.  With phones and other technology kept to a minimum, catch up on life with a friend you haven't seen in a while.  Take a spontaneous road trip to a city or place you've always wanted to see and build memories from that.  At some point, the value of gas to take a trip with some friends has to exceed the value of laying in your bed and watching the same show you've seen a million times.

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In those seemingly rare occasions of free time, it's very easy to turn on the TV, send tons of texts, and scroll through the same three social media networks in a never ending cycle.  If you want to maximize this time, motivate yourself to do something that will last and give substance to your life.  For me, challenges always prove more rewarding.

Tyler,
Spot me on my pod balcony reading or writing poetry

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