How to make time for the things you love when you work 9-5

office Having a life outside of work when you work 9-5 (or even longer) can be difficult. This year I've been making a real conscious effort to make the most of my free time - to learn new skills, to socialise more, to make more time for me. And it's been working! In the past 6 weeks alone I've had time to learn basic Spanish, take a jewellery course, knit a snood, read plenty of books and socialise lots. So here are my tips for utilising those precious out of work hours and squeezing in as much fun as possible!

1) Get up earlier

An obvious one I suppose, but I've been trying to get up an hour earlier once or twice a week to head to the gym before work. This way working out doesn't zap my evenings and when I exercise in the mornings I feel amazing for the rest of the day!

2) Utilise your commute

So many people hate their commute - they spend an hour plus a day getting frustrated with the traffic and feeling miserable. I used to be one of them, travelling time felt like dead time to me which would really wind me up, but recently I've learnt to utilise that commuting time. If I get the bus or train to work, I like to read, watch vlogs and practice my Spanish using Duolingo. On days that I drive I try to listen to new music or podcasts - I'm also toying with downloading some audio books.

3) Reclaim your lunch hour

When you have a busy job it can be really tempting to grab a sandwich and eat it at your desk whilst finishing off reports and presentations. However, taking a break is proven to make you more productive, and your lunch break can actually be a great time to do all of your life admin without eating into your spare time. I like to use mine to pay bills, make any trips to the post office and pick up ingredients for dinner.

4) Use your evenings wisely

It's oh so tempting to get home from work and just flop on the couch and watch Netflix, especially if your job is particularly stressful. I think this is fine one or two nights a week, but try to use the rest of your evenings well - it can really help you to enjoy your week rather than just counting down to Friday. Cook from scratch, take a class you've always wanted to or go out for dinner with friends - you'll be amazed how fun and productive weeknights can be!

5) Take weekend breaks

Get the most out of your weekend by planning something special. You could squeeze in a city break (a lot of flights depart late Friday evening and return on Sunday evenings) or take a drive out to somewhere new. It doesn't have to be expensive or exotic, but breaking away from routine will make your weekends feel longer and more fulfilling.

What are your tips for making the most of your free time?