08/01/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

How To Reclaim Your Free Time

If you're like most people, you probably wish you had more free time. But maybe you have enough - it's just that you're not using it the right way. Psychologist Lynne Friedman tells exactly how you can maximize your free time - and the benefits you can reap from it.

So how is it that so many Americans seem to lose track of their free time?

Some of these people may not be losing track of their time at all. They may simply be pursuing their own priorities and not yielding to those that others have attempted to externally impose.

For example, their spouse may think that they should come home and "be productive" but they may prefer to spend free time at the local watering hole with friends or colleagues.

Also, people may lose track of free time because they're unconsciously trying to slow down and relax in a fast-paced society that doesn't always appreciate, "stopping and smelling the roses."

Or then there are those people who just can't seem to relax. According to Friedman, "the person who's always moving might want to consider what they are avoiding by being too busy."

Here are Friedman's tips on getting the most out of your precious free time.

Examine your priorities. Identify what and who is most important to you. Ask yourself if the way you manage your time reflects your priorities. If it doesn't, consider how you might shift your schedule so that it's consistent with your priorities.

On a pragmatic level, if you have a long commute, figure out how you might shorten it or at least make it more pleasant. Consider trying to cut commuting time by telecommuting one or two days a week.

If you enjoy the social aspects of the workplace, consider carpooling with a friend or colleague as a way of enjoying the commute or at least spending time more efficiently.

Consider walking to work or parking at a distance and walking part way. Consider what steps you might take to relax and enjoy the people and things that are most important to you.

And lastly, if you're so lost you don't even know how much free time you have - try out their Work vs. Personal Time calculator.