Read Jane Braithwaite’s latest article in the Independent Practitioner Today talking about how to make the most of your free time.

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Making the most of your free time

Last month, we talked about time management and how to utilise time more efficiently. We need to do this to achieve our ultimate goal: creating “quality time” for ourselves, for enhanced enjoyment of life.

Happiness is described as a mental or emotional state of well-being, defined by positive or pleasant emotions; these range from contentment to intense joy. When was the last time you felt pure joy?

Creating a good work/ life balance is to create a balance between work, career, and ambition. This includes considering our lifestyle, health, pleasure and leisure, family, and spiritual development. That’s what we are focusing on in this article.

The Statistics

We started by researching the statistics of the general UK population, relating to work/life balance, and found some interesting statistics from the OECD (Organisation for economic co-operation and development). The OECD was created in 1961 and represents 35 countries. The OECD helps governments design better policies for better lives for their citizens. They produce a bi-annual report called the Better life index, which reports on each member country’s performance, against issues that shape the quality of our lives.

Free Time

The report is based on 11 topics that the OECD has identified as essential to well-being in terms of material living conditions (housing, income, jobs), and quality of life (community, education, environment, governance, health, life satisfaction, safety, and work-life balance).


If you visit the OECD website, you can create your own profile based on the conditions that are most important to you. If work-life balance is your top priority, based on the 2015 report criteria, you should head to the Netherlands. The UK scores well on safety and health, but less well on work-life balance.

[plsc_pullquote align=”right”]”Exercise is important for all of us but it can be hard to stick to a routine – unless we find something enjoyable.” [/plsc_pullquote]

The phrase “Work-life balance” was first implemented widely in the UK in the 1970s, and in 2016, is still widely recognised as an ideal we all strive for. Many people report feeling stuck on the treadmill of working life, feeling trapped, getting little exercise, and following a poor diet.

If this is the case for so many of us, how do, we break the trend? The key seems to be to prioritise quality time for ourselves.

We have compiled our top tips on how to create quality time and make the most of it.

1. Define quality time for you personally.

We believe it should consist of several activities that appeal to you specifically. It should ideally include exercise in the fresh air, free time, and time spent socialising with friends and family.

2. Structure your free time.

Are you happier at your job or during your spare time? Research has shown that many people felt happier at work; one explanation for this is that leisure time without structure can feel boring. The secret to this is to plan. Arrange an activity in advance for Sunday afternoon. Waking up on a Sunday morning with nothing planned sounds dreamy, but can actually feel uncomfortable and tedious.

3. Free time.

Having made the point about structuring your time, it’s also important to allow yourself some free time. Time to have a nap, watch TV and lounge around. This type of free time allows you to relax in an entirely different way.

4. Family and friends.

Take stock of who your favourite people are and make a conscious effort to meet up with them. Arrange to participate in activities together. What do you all enjoy? Whether theatre, music, parties, or champagne – plan to indulge in these activities together.

5. Exercise is important for all of us

But it can be hard to stick to a routine – unless we find something enjoyable. Physical activity can sound exhausting but it’s very energising, particularly if taken in the fresh air. Get together with family or friends for a long walk or cycle ride. If you really want to work on your fitness, but have little time, investigate HIT training. Short bursts of exercise can be squeezed in at the start or end of the working day, or even in in your lunch break. Look at for those who need a personal trainer to motivate them. The good news is the training sessions are only 15 minutes long!

6. Hobbies.

Allocate time to indulge your passions and hobbies. If you have let these go over the years, try to revitalise previous interests, or perhaps start afresh with something new. If you love the idea of playing a musical instrument, take a look at “Get Playing,” on the BBC Music website. They have created a virtual orchestra of 1200 people of varying musical ability, playing every type of music. It’s fabulous.

7. Your Inspiration folder.

Create two folders, one physical and one online. File cuttings from magazines and newspapers of appealing activities. Store reviews of enticing restaurants and seductive holidays. Spend some time occasionally glancing through these ideas and investigate further. If you spot something interesting while you’re out and about, take a quick photo to remind you to follow up later.

8. Reflect.

Look back on your favourite holidays, days out and activities over the last few months. Which ones do you remember with pleasure? Make a mental note to repeat these, or investigate similar activities. Then plan them for the future!


If you fancy claiming back some of that free time then get in touch to find out how we can support you with a Designated PA and your practice with a Designated Medical Secretary.

Jane Braithwaite is Managing Director at Designated Medical and regularly contributes to the Independent Practitioner Today publication.

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