Some people say they’re too busy to make friends outside the office, too busy to date, too busy to sleep or have sex and too busy for downtime. In recent years being busy has become a status symbol.
I have written before about how in our world productivity is a virtue and relaxation is considered an inefficient waste of time. But leisure does not equal idleness. Leisure time is important for our well-being, self-development and overall happiness.
You know those people that look like they have 34 hours a day? those people that accomplish so much, who runs marathons and volunteer and actually has hobbies while maintaining a job and family life? While you haven’t read a book in years or still have a pile of unfolded laundry on the couch? Ugh. I know…
Let me tell you a little secret, we all have the same amount of time (Shhh… don’t tell anybody). We can’t make more time but we can manage our time so we’ll have more time for leisure, ourselves and what’s important for us.
I read this survey once that talked about people complaining about not having free time, the same people reported watching over 10 hours of reality TV per week. I get it, there is nothing like a good episode of the Kardashians to clear your mind from a hectic day at work. Nonetheless, we need to be minded about how we spend our time (That’s even before I started talking about social media right?). TV is a short-term satisfaction but it won’t make you happy for long.
First of all, deiced what leisure activities will make you happy and set leisure goals. Yes, I know… It’s weird to think of leisure as something we need to plan or accomplish for but we have to take our leisure seriously in order for it to make us happy.
Take the time and write down all the things you enjoy doing or all the things that were on your “if I only had time list”. Then choose 2-3 things to start from. If you have a set goal you’ll be more motivated to make time for it. It could be anything from writing a book, learning a language, getting back in shape or spending more time with loved ones.
As I said, we only have 24 hours a day. So we can’t actually do it ALL. We have to decide what matter to us personally and make it a priority over other things. “All tasks and goals are not equal in immediacy, even if they are all important to us. Many people end up feeling like they don’t have time for it all because they are letting busywork take precedence over more important items” says psychotherapist and coach Cathey Stamps.
Start treating your downtime as an important part of your schedule. Don’t just “pencil it in”. Once you schedule things that matter to you personally and not only “work” related or major life events it affirms it as a serious and important part of your life.
It may feel weird at first to schedule “me time” but if it’s not on your calendar it will probably won’t happen. Also, don’t be afraid to be specific – instead of “downtime” write down “taking a bubble bath” or “reading a book”. It will also build more anticipation for it.
If you decide you want to exercise, for example, figure out when can you do it. If you need to rearrange things, or schedule it with your significant other – do it. Once it’s on your calendar, schedule the rest of your time around it.
Tip: be creative with your schedule. If you can’t work out after work then try working out in the morning. Hey, don’t knock it until you try it. Another great time for me is right-after-work. Just before you-put-your-ass-on-the-couch-and-too-lazy-to-go moment.
Removing the need to think about things will help you have more free time.
And I’m not just talking about putting on auto-pilot recurring obligations. Experts will tell you to automate EVERY reoccurring task possible. For example, Automating finances (payments/deposits/transfers) or even setting your alarms in advance and what not.
But think for a second (we don’t have a lot of time right?) about how much time we spend making (mostly meaningless) decisions during our lives… What show to watch on Netflix? What to wear in the morning? or what to order to eat??
It could take me literally hours to think what I want to eat – but if I would’ve prepared some of the food in advance (in the begging of the week) I would save valuable time cooking during the week but especially valuable time deciding what to eat LOL
If we’re talking about (meaningless) things that can waste SO much time we can’t do it without a shoutout to our friend Zucky… Just think about all the time you spend on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media. Even before checking emails, slack, Whatsup etc.
Set aside a specific time during the day (on 3-4 occasions for us who is chronically addicted) to check your feed and even then limit your time. Again, I’m the last one to tell you not to be on social media (or read blogs for your enjoyment) but know how to do it in moderation in order to accomplish other things.
Yes. This little dirty word. Most of us don’t like to outsource personal tasks or hire help because it requires spending money (that we usually don’t have). But I think there is something else to it (especially for women) – the fact that when we hire someone else to do the things we are “supposed” to do makes us feel guilty or like we’ve failed somehow (no? just me?).
OK, nonetheless the key is to remember that time is also money.
A recent study showed that buying time was linked to greater life satisfaction. People felt less end-of-day time pressure when they purchased time-saving services, which explained their improved mood that day. It’s a funny thing that a great deal of attention has been devoted to reducing financial scarcity, but there is relatively little research examining how to reduce feelings of time scarcity, because ironically time, unlike money, is inherently finite.
Most of us won’t have a problem spending 40$ on a nice shirt or gadget but we won’t pay the same amount for someone to do our household chores so we could enjoy a movie or go out for a jog. Just think about that…
The baby sister of prioritizing. As I mentioned, we only have limited time during the day (and if we’re mentioning it, also on this earth). Learn to live the life you want and say no to the things you don’t want to do. Get super protective about your time because time=money and also free time=happiness. You do the math.
People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. Innovation is saying ‘no’ to 1,000 things | Steve Jobs
If you don’t know how to say “no” read these: Eight Ways to Say No With Grace and Style
To be honest, While I’m terrible in disconnecting (and also saying no most of the time) I’ve mastered the art of using ALL of my time. I literally use every second of every day. On the commute, on the way somewhere, Waiting in line – all these “in-between” moments are all great opportunities for some “extra time”. Promise to post soon about all the ways you can use those “leftover” minutes.
We all only have 1440 minutes a day. Use them the way you want to. Don’t get too distracted being “busy”. Remember – being busy and doing a lot of things doesn’t equal success. Being happy equals success.
P.S. I would love to hear more from you! Did you feel this post was helpful? Comment below with questions, comments, or what you would like to see in future posts.
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