A common mistake people make in their career is believing that investing time and energy into making more money will make them greater happiness. On the whole people with more free time are happier, healthier and more productive than colleagues who put all the effort and priorities into making money.
“I was justifying my choices by telling myself what a lot of us tell ourselves: that we’re working hard now so we will have more time to be happy later”Ashley Whillans
This was backed by by research in a study by Whillans and Macchia who studied more than 220,000 people living in 79 countries to explore the differences in happiness of those who prioritise time (leisure) vs money (work). The findings proved that one you move beyond individual welfare, the value that nations place on leisure versus work fundamentally shapes individuals happiness.
In an earlier article Jessica Stillman from Inc. Magazine identified that relationships, exercise and a shorter commute would all make you happier than money
- Relationships – based on research by UC Berkeley – the article finds that a positive and nurturing relationship is much more rewarding than material returns.
- Exercise – A study by Yale found that regular exercise will make you feel as good as an extra $25,000 per year
- A Shorter Commute – The University of West England identified that a 20% reduction in your work commute time equates to the benefits of a 19% pay rise.
Happiness is more time, not more money
According to the 2018 US Gallup poll 80% of working Americans reported that they never have enough time. So how do you go about freeing up time and focusing on happiness?
The first step is prioritisation of the activities that bring us joy, and making the deliberate and sometimes difficult choices to protect the precious hours in our days.
The choices we make to work rather than socialise or exercise do add up and the time ends up being a lot and having a powerful influence now whether we are happy or not.
Six strategies to help manage your time
- Prioritise important work and fend off interruptions – we spend a significant amount of time every week in meetings and often doing unimportant time wasting tasks. Start considering the importance of what you are doing and when you need to do it by. Block of time in the calendar to tackle challenging work when your energy is high.
- Request deadline extensions when you need them – research shows that supervisors often view those requests for what they are – highly motivated employees who want a little more time to deliver a better result.
- Throw money at the problem – If you hate cleaning then outsource the task, don’t waste a lot of time trying to find the cheapest price for a holiday if its going to stop you enjoying it.
- Pencil in some slack time – plan a little bit of downtime into your day
- Take vacations – Rest and relaxation helps you feel more energetic, creative and productive at work.
- Savour your free time – Make sure that you take time to consciously appreciate
“Thinking about the economic value of our leisure time can undermine our enjoyment of it, especially when it’s not living up to some perfect ideal in our minds,” Whillans says. “We have to disconnect the experience from money, since that doesn’t adequately measure its value.”Ashley Whillans
Synopsis of an article from Harvard Business School Want to Be Happier? Make More Free Time by Ashley Whillans Published: 5th October 2020 https://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/want-to-be-happier-make-more-free-time and The Journal of Positive Psychology Leisure beliefs and the subjective well-being of nations by Lucía Macchia & Ashley V. Whillans Published: 14th November 2019 https://doi.org/10.1080/17439760.2019.1689413