I recently read about this study conducted by Nobel Prize recipient Daniel Kahneman. He believed we would all feel a lot better if we spent our time more wisely. He conducted a diary study with 909 women in Austin, Texas. He asked them to record all the activities they did during the day and then rate how happy they were while doing them. He then had them narrow the list to their least favorite activities. Unfortunately those activities accounted for nearly half of the participants’ waking hours.
Not surprisingly, his advice was fairly simple. He said "reorganize your life to be in situations that you’d rather continue than stop." He mentioned delegating certain chores to other family members, finding alternative ways to get to work if commuting’s got you down, or simply cutting out activities all together that had become more of an obligation than a pleasure. I offer this same exact advice to my clients all the time. Time is a constant that simply won’t change or deviate, but how you spend your time is completely up to you.
Once you begin delegating or eliminating things you don’t like, you’ll have more time for things you love. Your life sometimes feels like it is on autopilot, so unless you consciously make a decision to take control of the steering device every now and then, it will continue to guide itself. This week, I would like for each of you to open your eyes and take a closer look at your life and the direction it is taking.
1. Add in fun
If you are committed to reorganizing your life, adding a splash of fun is a good first step. People who report being happiest during the day also report higher levels of overrall satisfaction with their lives. Work, kids, responsibilities, chores and tasks will consume you if you allow it to. Rediscover what you enjoy and start plugging it into your calendar on a daily basis.
2. Delegate or eliminate
Look at all the activities that take up the majority of your time. You can also create a time diary to see more clearly how you spend your time. Once you have a clear picture, circle the activities that simply don’t bring you much joy anymore. If they still need to get done, see if you can delegate them to someone else or possibly hire help. If you can eliminate the activity all together you will free up time for what really brings you happiness.
3. Define your core values
When you live your life by what’s important to you, you will feel a higher level of satisfaction and joy. Take some time this week to list your 5 core values. Some examples may be compassion, dependability, fitness, humor, health, love, wisdom or simplicity. Then decide whether or not you are incorporating these values on a daily basis. If not, it may be time to make some changes. Make sure your life revolves around what is most sacred to you.