Many of us who take the flexible-job road are motivated by the freedom to lead a more balanced lifestyle. Having the ability to free up some hours in our week gives us the opportunity to spend quality time with our loved ones, and maintain healthier fitness and eating habits.

What are some other things you would do if you could free up an hour a day? Here are seven suggestions:

1. Establish a Morning Routine

It’s true — how you begin your morning sets the tone for the rest of your day. In fact, studies have shown that maintaining a healthy morning routine can boost your productivity. A simple yet strong-willed commitment to reduce your snoozing alarms and not check your phone for emails and notifications the moment you wake up can prevent stress and high blood pressure.

Living in a household where mornings are frantic? Moms and dads — we’re looking at you. If it seems impossible to own your waking hours, switch to an evening routine instead and try to end your day with a calm wind-down, and do any prep that would ease the pressure for the following morning.

2. Catch Up

For the days when you underestimate the weight of your workload or became too ambitious with your checklist, making room for a contingency hour in the middle of your schedule lets you catch up on incomplete or missed tasks and prevent mental overload. You can also use this productive break to breathe and enjoy a midwork beverage.

3. Learn a New Skill

We’ve always wished we had time to learn a new language, take that online course, or get certified for an interest we’ve always had. Charlotte Cowles, a columnist at New York Magazine, shared her goal to practice her second language. “I took Spanish classes in Guatemala earlier this year and have already lost most of what I learned, but if I had an hour with a Spanish partner every day, I know it would come back and gradually improve.”

4. Get Cooking

Cooking can be therapeutic, whether it’s going all out on your secret family recipe or baking cookies. In fact, therapists have been known to prescribe cooking to treat depression, anxiety and other psychological conditions. The reason? Cooking stimulates all your main senses and keeps you in the present moment, because each step requires your full attention. This lets you put your problems and work challenges to the side for the hour, and gives you a chance to activate your gratitude muscle and lets you appreciate your food even better.

5. Get a Side Gig

If you choose to use your free time to earn additional income, there are a host of gigs available that only require a few hours of your time a week — such as consulting, copywriting, designing, bookkeeping, developing, and more.

Always dreamed of launching your own business? Having to start out full-time is a myth — many entrepreneurs built their businesses while still keeping their main jobs. Shaan Patel, founder of ClearHat Digital Marketing and Prep Expert Test Preparation started his 7-figure business with an hour a day. And health coach Nagina Abdullah made US$100k on the side with her online business, which she began with her daily hour.

6. Sleep In

How many of us actually get the advised eight hours of sleep, even on most nights? Sleep is one of the most important roles for your brain and body to function and thrive. An extra hour of sleep is practically a luxury, by nature’s standards. “If I had an extra hour a day I know exactly what I’d use it for: sleeping in!”, shared Nathalie Molina Nino, CEO at BRAVA Investments. “I would use it not for a midday nap, or even to start the evening’s sleep earlier, but to extend my morning.”

7. Or… Do Nothing

Watching a comedy. Meeting a friend for a chat and coffee. Doing simple errands around the house. Planning your calendar. These might feel like low-energy, relaxing activities squeezed into your day, but they occupy your mind and body nonetheless. Mentally, you are still multitasking, and considering problems and solutions as you carry out these tasks.

In our productivity-obsessed society, we tend to underestimate the practice of aimlessness, and delay mental rest until we burn out. According to Manfred Kets De Vries, Professor of Leadership Development & Organisational Change at INSEAD, by giving the brain “downtime” we can improve mental health and allow ideas to incubate.

The next time you have a free hour, or even 20 minutes, find a quiet place to sit or lie comfortably, away from any distractions (including your phone). Breathe slowly with deep inhales and exhales for a few minutes. Then, for the rest of the time — allow your thoughts to wander without aim, judgement or agenda.

What else would you do if you could free up an hour a day?

Imagine what life could be like if you were free to choose where, when and how you work! Gigple is making that vision a reality — by matching qualified professionals with leading employers that are hiring for flexible and remote positions. Create a free profile on Gigple to get access to available flex jobs and get noticed by companies seeking expertise in finance, business and strategy, sales and marketing, branding (UI/UX), and technology.