Most people find it challenging to be productive after work. And why not procrastinate when we just got out from a long day at the office, right?

Sure, you can play video games all day or just laze on the couch doing nothing. But wouldn't it serve you better if you also think about how you can make your after-work hours a bit more productive? You probably have already attempted to make a to do list of productive things you can do, but did you stay motivated and follow through?

The good news is there are always concrete steps you can take to better manage your free time after your 9-5 job.

How to Be Productive with Your Free Time?

If you've decided to work on your productivity, below are some simple but effective tips on how to ensure progress and success:

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Make a Solid Plan and Stick to It

Before you randomly start any task, don't waste your energy by going in blindly. Instead, allocate a few minutes of your day to jot down the most important things that matter to you.

Writing your plans is a simple method that helps you organize your thoughts and will give you a clearer idea on how to move forward. It could be side projects you've always wanted to accomplish but you were just too lazy or didn't really know how to start.

After a tiring day, write down which of these personal projects you'd want to focus on and make a plan on how you can finally make it come to life.

You don't have to dedicate 100% of your free time to side hustles and after-work productivity. Just make sure you plan it out in a balanced manner wherein you still have time to destress and relax no matter what.

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Have Time for a Relaxing Break

As mentioned, it's equally important to have time for sleep, rest, and relaxation. You can't always be actively checking off tasks and goals in your checklist. In other words, treat rest and relaxation as part of your productivity because high-quality breaks are really necessary to restore your focus and stamina.

You wouldn't want to burn out yourself in the process and drain your life force. After working long hours, you'd naturally want to just sleep or laze around to recharge.

Just strike the right balance and be accountable for how much energy you should spend procrastinating and doing actual, productive tasks.

Being mindful will go a long way in becoming aware of how much time you've already spent relaxing. Taking a break is needed, but don't forget to still go back on track once you're fully refreshed.

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Set a Time Limit

To avoid procrastination going out of hand, set time limit for your breaks. It's understandable to just look forward to sleeping and having that full rest when you arrive home.

However, if you don't dedicate time for your personal goals and dreams, they'll forever stay in the 'someday' aisle and they are likely to remain as dream for good.

How often do we find ourselves mindlessly staring at the TV and wasting away precious time when we could've done something essential?

There are lots of ways to regulate our time-wasting tendencies. You can set an alarm to snap yourself out of the lull of mindless activities or use social media blockers on your phone or computer. You can set these apps in a way that they only allow social media access for a few minutes to a few hours.

This can be a challenge, especially for those who are not used to these kinds of methods, but it's an excellent tool to help build a consistent habit of sticking to a schedule. If you're serious about getting things done, be strict about how you manage your time. After all, if you want it badly enough, you will definitely find a way to make it happen.

group of people tossing wine glass

Go Outside and Do Things

It's easy to get stuck in a vicious cycle of staying at home and doing nothing all day. Going outside forces you to be active because you're not within the comforts of your home and you're bound to get more engaged.

There are many things you can do to pass time beyond the four corners of your room. You can see your friends and do a project together, or go out with your family and do something engaging together as a group. You don't have to force yourself to go out when you don't feel like it, but it always helps to add variety to your otherwise monotonous routine. It can help you reconnnect with the people who matter and recharge in the process.

If you're in no mood to meet with people and would just like quality time for yourself, you can choose more conducive places like your favorite cafe or library and work on your big projects. Sometimes, a change of place is needed to keep you engaged and avoid stagnation or distraction.

woman sitting on bench over viewing mountain

Be Kind to Yourself

Before you start your work mode, you have to remember to be always kind to yourself. It's not easy to adapt to a new habit, so it's only normal to tire and lose the motivation to keep going.

Give yourself some slack every time you slip and go wayward. It's not always simple to keep a productive lifestyle, but the most important thing is that you don't stop trying.

But don't beat yourself up and make sure to treat yourself the same way you treat the people you care for. Don't set impossible expectations as that is the surest way to overwhelm. Fill your to-do list with goals that are achievable, small ones that you can easily overcome. It's all about consistency. As how the buddhist saying goes, "A jug fills drop by drop."

If you're tired, take a break and don't stress too much. Give yourself the good kind of breaks like going for a walk, listening to music, cooking a healthy meal, spending time with family, or just doing anything you think is therapeutic for you.

silver iMac with keyboard and trackpad inside room

Personal Projects You Can Do After Work

Now that you already have some tips on how to be a bit more productive after work, you can already start planning and getting down to the good stuff. But if you don't have any ideas on what kind of productive personal pursuits to do, you can get some inspiration here:

Start a Personal Fitness Journey

If you want to be more active and use your spare time to hone your health and fitness, it's always productive to start a fitness journey. There are so many options you can choose from . You can exercise regularly in a gym that you like or make a fitness routine at home. If exercise is not your thing, you can always choose active leisure activities like sports.

Being active helps your body stay in shape and helps your mind stay sharp. You're also likely to go to bed early, fall asleep better, and have more energy as you start your day early. Physical fitness helps you feel good in general as it releases the happy chemicals - endorphins.

Create a Healthy Diet and Lifestyle

If you're a foodie and love eating, why not start becoming productive in the kitchen? It's a great way to improve your cooking skills and stay away from junk food.

Once you start focusing on healthy foods, you're likely to become more inspired to achieve a better lifestyle overall as well. You can cook or bake healthy recipes for your family and friends. It's a great way to shift to the healthier side while developing life skills and spending more quality time other than scrolling through social media newsfeeds all day.

Do a Mental, Fun, or Creative Activity

This is perfect for hobbyists. There are tons you can choose from - playing puzzles, mastering chess, learning a new instrument, playing computer or board games, painting, journaling, gardening, doing arts and crafts, and a whole lot more.

Channel your inner artist or stimulate your mind with challenging and entertaining activities. These are far more productive tasks that you can do after your job than just using more and more hours doing nothing or exposing yourself to random stuff online.

Having a personal project to work on that you truly enjoy after a hard day will make you feel purposeful even if you're tired. You'll sleep knowing that you've spent your time and energy well.

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Tips to Have More Energy After Work

To stay productive, we have to have the energy to keep going after work, but there are just times when we're too tired to do anything. Here are some some tips to stay pumped and energized:

Assess Your State

Asess if you're in the condition to be productive. From 1-10, how tired are you? If you scored high, just take a break and work on the project you've set yourself to do when you feel more rejuvenated.

Enjoy Your Break

Don't feel guilt about taking a break and not spending your time productively. If you're spending it to regain your energy and sanity, that is the most productive route for now. Don't stress yourself about productivity if you are on the verge of burnout. Sometimes, we just need to rest and recharge in order to do more.

Go for a Run

If you're feeling demotivated and just sluggish, some find running revitalizing. Go out and jog for a bit. It can improve your energy level and help ease mental tension as well.

Have a Cold Shower

You can also take a cold shower to awaken your senses. It's another great tip to feel a jolt of energy while feeling refreshed.

Eat or Drink Something Stimulating

You could also incorporate food and drinks. Apart from coffee and energy drinks, you can improve your productivity by eating a banana or apple or just simply guzzling cold water.

person writing bucket list on book

To stay productive, you must first commit. It can be a challenge, especially if you're just starting to make a habit of being more active after work. Productivity after work generally entails inducing progress in aspects of your life that you genuinely value. In this day and age, it's so easy to be distracted with the tons of viral memes and entertaining videos and random data the internet and social media generates. It's liberating to decide and to commit to take control of your time and energy once more. Be finally free and run your life instead of letting life and the external world easily run you. Give the tips above a try, and see your progress in no time.