Here's how to finally stop wasting your precious free time


Ask me what I did yesterday at work and I can probably give you a solid run-down of the articles I wrote, the emails I sent, and the phone calls I made.


But ask me what I did yesterday after work? Um. Well. Internet?

Since I entered the working world, I've had this problem of frittering away the hours after I come home. It's like, without the kind of set schedule I have for workdays, I don't know what to do with myself, and so I end up mindlessly social media-ing or watching TV reruns.

An elegant, if simple, solution to this problem appears in Laura Vanderkam's 2015 book, "I Know How She Does It." Admittedly, the tip is one of Vanderkam's 10 secrets of happier parenting, and I'm not a parent. But I felt like the tip had been designed for me: Treat your weeknights with the same intention and mindfulness you apply to your workdays.

When Vanderkam visited the Business Insider office in October, she made this tip more specific: Set one priority for every weekday evening.


Maybe you want to go for a walk with your family after dinner, or call a friend, or read 100 pages of a novel, or go to a gym class.

Here's Vanderkam: "It is very easy to come home after work and just feel like, well, I'm too tired to do anything. But you have several hours then that are going and you will never get that back."

That's why it helps to think, "What would I like to accomplish today that's meaningful and enjoyable for me and the people I care about in this block of time?"

Vanderkam was quick to note that this doesn't mean scheduling your weeknights in 15-minute increments or sending your family a calendar invitation for dinner. That would be kind of ridiculous.

Instead, she said, it's about having some idea of what you'd like to accomplish outside of work, so that your health and happiness don't fall by the wayside.


"Just having some sort of intention for that time means that you will make more of it, and that you'll probably appreciate it more and enjoy it more" Vanderkam said. "Leisure time is far too precious to be totally leisure about leisure."

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