Our working lives are first and almost exclusively about the money. Too often the dollar trumps the dream in our organizational culture. We also struggle to prioritize time over money in our mind. We have biases that equate “busyness” with status and prestige. We also have guilt complexes about buying time but feel less guilty about spending our money on stuff.
So here are some mind-shifting ideas that can lead to rational habits, which can significantly upgrade your life.
Plan leisure time. Give structure to your nonwork time. We know that sounds geeky and boring, because our instinct is to just let things happen spontaneously. But you really can maximize the benefits of YOU-time with even a basic schedule of good intentions.
Break the screen habit. Choose active rather than passive things to do with YOU-time. Getting out and about by volunteering, meeting people, and exercising can transform your happiness level.
Make feasts, not meals. Think of ways to turn every meal into a pleasurable rite. A disturbing comparison survey of French and American eating habits found that we spend much more time choosing food, while the French spend so much more time actually eating, savoring, and deriving pleasure from meals. OMD! (Oh, mon Dieu!) Shouldn’t meals be the apex of everyday family time?
Seek out new friends. We are social beings, and even the briefest, most-casual encounter with others greatly boosts our serotonin levels, making us feel good. Research shows that contributing to community activities boosts happiness and makes us feel “time affluent.”
Look up, not down. Why? Because the vastness of the sky, both day and night, inspires awe, and awe is a positive uplifting experience. Just a few seconds of daily awe plus a regular dose of vacation scenery rejuvenates us.
Use ALL your vacation time. Research shows a direct correlation between reported happiness and fully utilized vacation time. Never let ‘the urgent’ replace the important. It’s difficult, we know, when everything seems so urgent these days and 4 in 10 Americans say they didn’t take all of their vacation entitlement last year.
Offload the drudgery. Pay someone else to do as many or as much of your chores as you are comfortable letting go of, e.g., walking the dog, pressing your laundry, valeting the car, etc. Start by questioning your own feelings towards each task. What precisely do you find disagreeable?
Make better use of your commute time. Consider Uber, car sharing, the bus, bike, or walking, where the time is spent interacting with others or reading or even just thinking. Maybe test it out with one day a week, to begin with.
Don’t be a “yes” guy. Saying “no” to new projects should always be an option, because if you are already time-poor, your mental health deserves a break. Always be ready to share your rationale, so refusal does not cause offense.
Finally a word to all you entrepreneurs. As employers and business leaders, we have an important role to play by walking the walk and rewarding with time and NOT always cash. But ironically, putting a cash value on time-based rewards does help people appreciate the big picture when it comes to benefits around your salary offering. It can significantly help with recruitment and retention, and it demonstrates that you are an employer who genuinely wants what is best for both your business and your associates.