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Attitude: how to get it right and keep it right

Time poverty – the feeling of not having enough time – is at an all-time high.

And this nagging feeling has a profound effect on happiness and productivity. Anxiety and depression go up. Physical health goes down due. Relationships suffer.

But research shows that most of us have more discretionary time than ever before. If that’s true, then why do we feel so time-starved?

Ashley Whillans, assistant professor at Harvard Business School, studies the links between time, money, and happiness. The main driver of our time-poor perception, according to Whillans, is that most of us fall into the trap of spending time to get money because we believe money will make us happier in the long run.

It’s a common pitfall. No doubt we need money to survive. But we need time to really thrive.

So, how do we escape the trap?

Turns out the happiest people consistently use their money to buy time. People who are willing to give up money to gain more free time by working fewer hours or paying to outsource disliked tasks experience more fulfilling social relationships, more satisfying careers, and more joy.

Making decisions and choices based on time, rather than money, is the key to living more joyfully. Why? Because time yields happiness by providing more social opportunities, more hobby exploration, and more meaningful professional pursuits. Here are some strategies you can start using today to get more time:

Plan your future time. Put your favorite activities on your calendar and look forward to them, even on the weekends. When we leave weekends up to chance, we often end up wasting that time so don’t let it happen and you’ll probably feel better about facing Monday mornings.

Be more active. Volunteering, socializing, and exercising have transformative effects. Active leisure combats stress better than passive leisure like binge-watching Netflix.

Spend more time eating. Taking more time to prepare and savor food reduces stress.

Meet new people and help others. Casual conversations with strangers is shown to boost happiness. As is volunteering to help others. Volunteering consumes time, but giving time away actually makes you feel more in control of it.

Spend more time experiencing awe. Nature, art and music create awe which is a positive emotion we feel when experiencing something vast, expansive or inspiring.

Take more vacation time. Vacation benefits are underutilized. Taking more time off correlates with greater life satisfaction.

Outsource chores. It may seem extravagant, but this time-first (not money-first) mindset can make a big difference in happiness. It’s easier than ever to hire out yardwork, home improvements, and laundry.

Do less comparison shopping. The amount of time to find the best price is often more valuable than the savings.

Ask for more time. A major source of time poverty is tight work deadlines, and feeling squeezed usually results in suboptimal work quality. If the deadline is adjustable, you can probably get an extension by just asking.

Time is a precious resource so consider paying more for it.

Reclaim your time and spend it wisely. It’s the key to breaking free of stress, improving your overall well-being – and simply having more fun.

Have a great week.

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