Making the most of your spare time – What is your spare time for?

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The answer to this question will vary enormously but I think for many of us, when you’ve been in full time, permanent employment in very demanding roles for an extended period, you just don’t know what you want to do with your spare time – you’ve never had any!

When you are on holiday, it’s that precious time to be with family, to go traveling and most importantly to recover. During the rest of your working life, spare time maybe is an evening out once a week, time taking the kids out for their football on a weekend, the opportunity to catch up with the gardening or DIY, visit relatives. However, you are juggling to fit this in because there is very, very little spare time.

The 168-hour Week

If you’re moving from a world where out of 168 hours a week on average perhaps you sleep for seven hours a night (49 hours), leaving 119 hours a week. The time committed to your employer when you include travel, working in the evenings and catching up the weekends, takes say 75 hours. 44 hours left a week. Just over six hours a day if you have seven hours sleep.

What were you doing with those six hours? Well, maybe you were spending some time eating in the evenings, that’s another hour off. So now you’ve got five hours left. Sometimes perhaps you’re having a lie-in – four hours. What did you do with those four hours that you might have had left each day? Probably not very much. Perhaps you went for a run, perhaps you flopped in front of the TV, perhaps you just ended up on some kind of death scroll on social media, or perhaps you saved it up and got a round of golf, or helped out around the house.

The New Portfolio Executive Week

Now you’re in a world where, with 12 fee earning days a week, in an average month you are serving clients 96 hours a month. As an employee, in a bad week you might be to your employer for almost the same amount (including travel time away from home).

As a first step, give yourself the opportunity to dream of something different. You can always catch up on the DIY, bring the garden under control, meet more friends or more household chores. Don’t just go with the flow. Start to be in intentional about dreaming for a new lifestyle to go with your new workstyle.

Is there some kind of childhood desire that you’ve never stepped into? Have you wanted to:

  • Write a book
  • Learn a new instrument
  • Join a band
  • Go traveling
  • Do more train spotting
  • Go sky diving?

What is the thing that you want your spare time for?

If all you’re doing is sitting around cluttering up the house then you will become a burden to yourself and the people around you. This is not just about more leisure, this is about recognising there’s parts of who you are created to be, that have been starved, shut down, ignored for far too long and now you have the opportunity to do things that you’d love to do.

Do Something New

Several of the portfolio executives that I work with have gone on improv workshops, learnt how to do improvisation, and this has opened a whole new world for them. Others have joined choirs. There are lots of choirs out there that don’t require you to have an audition. Join a choir, meet you people, have new fun. Perhaps find a Park Run: an undemanding regular commitment to go out and do a 10K run once a week or once a month. May be you want to visiting attractions, find your love for the theatre, eat out or learn how to cook. Often a big agenda item is more travel. We’ll talk about holidays and travel in another article.

Improving your Family Life

Do you have an aging parent, or parent-in-law who you haven’t spent as much time with as you would like? Perhaps you felt disconnected and now have an opportunity to rebuild that relationship. I know for me, although the relationship my parents had never been estranged, it did become more important to set aside time to be with them. We were able to have conversations that restored and strengthened our relationship in their later years. When they had a medical crisis, the flexibility of a portfolio lifestyle meant I could go and be with them, work from their home, continue to serve clients and still being available to help with household chores or provide care.

Perhaps you’ve got teenage children and now providing after school activities is not enough. They need you to be around. To cook with them or go off on special trips with them or just be available to drive them about while having those conversations sat side by side in a car that you can’t have around a meal table.

Your Partner

What do you really want from the most important relationship that you’ve got?

Sadly, to many of the professionals I’m working with have found that their initial marriage or their primary partnership has broken down during their working lives and some of them can no longer believe they’ll ever have a life partner again. Some of them have found that second time round, they didn’t want to make the same mistakes as before.

How can you be intentional about nurturing your relationship? How can you recognise that perhaps there are ways you can support one other, be with one other, do things together that felt impossible when you were a full-time salaried professional. Do you want to go into business together? Do you want to explore how you can better offer love to and receive love from each other?

The transition to a Portfolio Executive workstyle is an opportunity to renegotiate your life together. Your changing workstyle will impact your partner: discuss how this can be positive rather than negative.

Spare time!

You have chosen not to have a cliff-edge (or guillotine!) retirement event. But you have more choices than ever before. Dream, plan and act so your new workstyle releases you into a rewarding lifestyle.


Charles McLachlan is the founder of FuturePerfect and on a mission to transform the future of work and business. The Portfolio Executive programme is a new initiative to help executives build a sustainable and impactful second-half-career. Creating an alternative future takes imagination, design, organisation and many other thinking skills. Charles is happy to lend them to you.