Enjoying life requires time, but too often we willingly give it away in pursuit of money and career.
When people invest too much time and energy into making more money, it’s often because they assume the extra cash will bring greater happiness. But they are wrong. People with more free time are actually happier, healthier, and more productive than people who work all the time and make more money, according to Whillans’ research, including a 2019 study (pdf) of working adults in 79 countries.
Too much work and not enough play is making an increasing number of people feel “time poor”—stressed from having too many things to do and not enough time to do them. In 2011, 70 percent of working Americans reported that they “never had enough time,” and by 2018, that number increased to 80 percent, according to Gallup US Daily Poll data.
How do we free up time and improve our moods? Whillans says it starts with prioritizing activities that bring us joy—savoring a well-cooked meal with a spouse, taking a leisurely walk with a friend, reading a book to a child—and minimizing the time-sucking nonsense that drags us down, like long commutes, household chores, and mindless scrolling on social media.
We must make deliberate, sometimes difficult choices that protect the precious hours in our days, Whillans says, whether it’s a big decision like pursuing a less-demanding career or a smaller one like opting to take the handful of vacation days we normally let go unused.
- Prioritize important work and fend off interruptions
- Request deadline extensions when needed
- Throw money at the problem
- Pencil in slack time
- Take those vacation days
- Savor your free time Read more via HarvardBusinessReview