First off, I want to ask you this question. Have you had the best year of your life?

In today’s world, time is the most valuable commodity. With the infinite distractions that eat away at our 24-hours, it’s easy to let a day slip pass. Most of us have one major occupation, which takes up the majority of our time and the biggest mistake I made growing up was that I didn’t do anything outside of that. But in the last 9 months I started focusing on how I can better use my spare time.

“Time is the most valuable commodity”

Spare time is what’s left when you remove all of life’s necessities. When you cut out all the noise, you’re left with a period of time which is free.

For some it’s a time to put your feet up and relax. But they’re wrong! It’s an opportunity to achieve something.

“Spare time = opportunity = freedom”

People never talk about 6-9pm on a week day, it’s not sexy.

The world focuses on what you do after dark or before dawn. But for me 6-9pm is the most important part of the day, as it’s when you can set yourself apart from the masses. Everyone can be productive from 9-5, but can you do it from 7-9?

An extra 2 hours of productivity each day is equivalent to an extra 70 days over the course of a year! Watching an episode of House of Cards & love island might seem insignificant, but it really does add up.

At this point in online articles about improvement they’d say “just sign up online for £5.99 a month to be 20% better, guaranteed!”. But all you have to do it keep yourself accountable for your spare time.

“Be accountable for every hour of the day”

Over the last 9 months that’s exactly what I’ve done. I achieved more than I had done in the previous 5 years and that’s all through challenging myself to better use my spare time. I ran my first half and full marathons, started an award winning podcast, interviewed A-Listers and more importantly had the best time of my life.

Everyone finds it hard going for a run, or sitting down and working for hours on end. But it’s all about making a choice: getting in shape or watching Netflix, writing your essay or going clubbing etc etc.

These choices are easier to make, when you consider that you’ll be much happier if you can look back upon success and achievement.

A year ago I wasn’t able to look back and be happy. I was in a mix of depression and anger, which had led to me doing nothing. And every night before I went to bed I’d think ‘What have I achieved today’ and the answer was nothing.

I’ve met some remarkable people and the truth is they are like each and everyone of us. No matter who you are, you have to keep challenging yourself. Otherwise, how can you be content if you know you could have done much better?

“Keep challenging yourself”

So back to the opening question: ‘Have you had the best year of your life?’?

The purpose of posing the question was to get people to reflect and think outside of the moment. If you haven’t been at your best, then ask yourself what you should be doing differently?

My answer is to challenge yourself and be more accountable for your spare time. But this isn’t maths and there are many different answers.

Let us know what works for you on twitter @spiceukonline & @olibaseley!