1) Schedule things that make you happy
You often schedule things that are “important”, but what about the things that make you happy? Activities on your calendar are more likely to be the things you do. So be as good about scheduling the personal as the professional.
From my interview with Stanford happiness researcher Jennifer Aaker:
…people who spend more time on projects that energize them and with people who energize them tend to be happier. However, what is interesting is that there is often a gap between where people say they want to spend their time and how they actually spend their time. For example, if you ask people to list the projects that energize (vs. deplete) them, and what people energize (vs. deplete them), and then monitor how they actually spend their time, you find a large percentage know what projects and people energize them, but do not in fact spend much time on those projects and with those people.
2) Time perception is everything
Your conflicts with time often arise not from legitimate time constraints but how you perceive time.
Ironically, research has shown a good way to feel less busy is to give away some of your time. Spending time on others makes us feel less time-constrained:
Four experiments reveal a counterintuitive solution to the common problem of feeling that one does not have enough time: giving some of it away.
Do you believe “time = money”? Congratulations, you’re making yourself miserable. People who saw time as money had more difficulty enjoying leisure time:
A new study shows people who put a price on their time are more likely to feel impatient when they’re not using it to earn money. And that hurts their ability to derive happiness during leisure activities.
Nostalgia increases a feeling of meaning in life.
3) Optimize the time you have
Don’t worry so much about having more or less time. Think about the best time to do things. Tired? That’s a great time to schedule creative work.
Another ideal moment for insights, according to Beeman and John Kounios, is the early morning, shortly after waking up. The drowsy brain is unwound and disorganized, open to all sorts of unconventional ideas. The right hemisphere is also unusually active. “The problem with the morning, though,” Kounios says, “is that we’re always so rushed. We’ve got to get the kids ready for school, so we leap out of bed, chug the coffee, and never give ourselves a chance to think.” If you’re stuck on a difficult problem, Kounios recommends setting the alarm clock a few minutes early so that you have time to lie in bed. We do some of our best thinking when we’re half asleep.
Are you a morning person? Or a night owl? Don’t fight it. Working when you’re at your best affects performance:
A Major League Baseball player’s natural sleep preference might affect his batting average in day and night games, according to a research abstract that will be presented Monday, June 13, in Minneapolis, Minn., at SLEEP 2011, the 25th Anniversary Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC (APSS).
Here is a list of the best time to do many things.
4) You are how you spend your time
How you use your time shapes you. 10,000 hours of challenging yourself in a domain molds you into an expert.
These findings remind us strongly of the ten-year rule that researchers have found when they study outstanding performers in any domain. Other researchers, who weren’t necessarily looking for evidence of this rule, have found it anyway.
Too much time in front of a computer hurts people skills:
Today’s young digital natives may be ill-suited for jobs in high-trust fields such as diplomacy and sales, because prolonged exposure to computers is reconfiguring their neural networks and possibly diminishing their empathy and social skills, says John K. Mullen of Gonzaga University. With 55% of person-to-person communication being nonverbal (tone of voice, inflection), overreliance on computer-based interactions may hamper an individual’s ability to judge intent and influence others, Mullen suggests.
Your career success can be predicted by how many hours you spent studying in college:
The researchers examined data from 1961 – 2004 on full-time students at 4-year colleges and also found a strong correlation between studying time and future earnings:
Are you spending your time to become the person you want to be?
5) Big Picture
“When you’re born, you’re born with 30,000 days. That’s it. The best strategic planning I can give to you is to think about that.”
He’s 65. So he’s “got about 5,625 days to live.” Then he just works backward to plan.
And thinking forward isn’t everything. We also look back.
Your brain is not a perfect computer. What you will remember is not the same as what happened.
But you can game it so your memories are better than what happened. And happy memories are one of the secrets to feeling good about your life.
Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Prize winner and author of Thinking, Fast and Slow, has shown that your brain really remembers only two things about an event:
- The emotional peak
- The end
So how can you game the system with this information and use it to be happier?
Structure events so that the peak is great and the ending is great.
Make sure tomorrow has one thing that will be amazing and that the day ends on a positive note.
Enough time looking forward and enough time looking back the right way leads to a meaningful life with many more great things ahead.
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