Hello Daylight Savings! As we fall back one hour, this is a great time, to consider how we spend our time, our free time. Scheduling free time, and savoring the minutes, is not just a luxury. Giving your mind, body, and soul time to recharge is crucial to a happy, healthy life. Read on for tips and strategies to schedule free time and have a more meaningful life:
1. Prioritize important work and fend off interruptions.
Workers often stretch themselves thin by allowing a colleague’s sense of urgency about something minor interrupt their more important work. After all, responding to multiple emails the moment they hit our inbox may lead to a time crunch on the more crucial projects we really need to get done. In fact, when we are distracted from a task, it can take 19 minutes to refocus on what we were doing, according to creativity expert Teresa Amabile, Edsel Bryant Ford Professor of Business Administration, Emerita, at HBS.
One solution: Block off time on your calendar to tackle your most challenging work, particularly when your energy is high, and focus on giving it your undivided attention by turning off distracting notification pings on your phone, email, and Slack channels.
2. Request deadline extensions when needed.
People often assume managers will consider them less competent if they ask for more time to complete a project. But Whillans’ research shows that supervisors are actually more willing to grant extensions than employees realize; in fact, they tend to view those who request extra breathing room as highly motivated employees who are intent on producing better results.
3. Throw money at the problem.
You can free up time for important or enjoyable activities by buying your way out of chores and other unpleasant experiences. Outsourcing grocery delivery, house-cleaning, and takeout is worth the expense because it eliminates drudgery from our days, which leads to greater life satisfaction, Whillans’ research shows.
4. Pencil in slack time.
“Don’t add so many positive activities that you spend your leisure time rushing around,” Whillans says. “These fun things will start to feel like obligations, and you’ll get exhausted trying to keep up.”
Instead, build slack time into your day—small buffers of 15 minutes or longer between work appointments or social commitments that allow for downtime or spontaneity.
5. Take those vacation days.
We need more than 15 minutes here and there. Longer periods of rest are key to our happiness, yet many workers don’t take enough time off. More than 700 million vacation days go unused each year, 5.6 billion hours that could be spent relaxing, rather than working, research shows. In one survey of American workers, 75 percent said they did not take all of their paid vacation days.
After taking time off, most employees report feeling more energetic—and they are also more engaged, creative, and productive at work than those who don’t take vacations, research shows.
6. Savor your free time.
It’s not enough to seek more leisure time; we also need to consciously appreciate it.
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©Indigo Stone 2022