As adults, we spend much of our lives working and developing our careers in order to build wealth and financial security. I am definitely all for working hard and making a lot of money but at the same time, I don’t think money is everything. Yes, money can buy many material goods and is needed to pay the bills but over time, I have discovered that quality time is much more valuable in the long run. Quality time to me means having the luxury to do the things that you enjoy such as pursuing your favorite hobbies and spending time with the people you care about most. The way in which we choose to spend our quality time really is personal to all of us and can also vary throughout the course of our lifetime. (Hey, it is never too late to pick up a new hobby!)
However, I will admit that the catch 22 of the situation is that you sort of need to have financial security (money) to buy you more quality time. By that I mean, in order to have more freedom and time, one must really have the money in the bank to be able to do what you want without having to constantly be working in order to make the money. That is why I cannot stress the importance of striking the right balance between work while also setting up free time for yourself. Working a crazy amount of hours might mean extra money in the bank but if you do not have the free time to enjoy it, is it really worth it? On the other hand, utilizing more of your free time without bringing money in is also not the way to live as it’s an added stress when you cannot make enough money to pay your monthly expenses.
When you’re much younger, sometimes it is necessary to really put in the extra work while you have the energy and are more dependent on working towards financial security which means less quality time to dedicate towards your passions; however, I can tell you from my personal experience, it is actually worth it (later)! That is not to say I was not having fun in my youth, I still think I managed to find a balance but I definitely made many sacrifices in order to comfortably build financial independence which now has paid off in giving me the opportunity to have more free time where I can afford to work less than I did before and allot more free time for myself. Working will always be very important to me as I look at it more for providing me a sense of purpose in which I will continue to be dedicated to my profession; however, I am not in a position where I am working incessantly in order to get by. It is wise to strive towards both financial security AND putting time aside for yourself but it’s good knowing that financial security will often provide you the quality time you deserve. Nowadays, I can take a step back and relax a bit to enjoy more quality time that is separate from my work life thanks to all the times I put in the extra work previously. Often you might find that you need to work harder in the beginning in order to earn quality time in the future. Trust me, it’s worth it! 🙂
Over the years, I have taken the time to really appreciate the quality of life which for me means having more time to myself for leisure activities, an active social life, and of course much needed alone time to feel fully recharged. I strongly believe in hard work but it is just as important to be able to enjoy life–whatever that means to you.
Take Care of Yourself by Adapting a Healthier Lifestyle – I always preach about developing healthy habits which can include eating higher quality foods and paying attention to portion control. It is okay to indulge but again, it is all about keeping everything within moderation. Besides a good diet, taking the time to exercise each day is also very important for increasing your longevity and overall well being.
Make Time for Vacations and Day Trips – People who work a lot often times do not take the time to actually plan a real vacation. I would suggest thinking about new places you want to explore and putting the money aside for it including the flight, accommodations, and entertainment money. Besides planning at least one big vacation, it is also good to plan long weekends and local day trips. Life experiences like travel are incredibly rewarding so be sure to make the time for it.
Stay Organized in All Areas of Your Life – Organization is such an important life skill but one that sometimes gets overlooked, especially when you are super busy. This can first start within your home and your surroundings by making a conscious effort to keep these areas neat and clutter free. If that means getting rid of items that are not practical, then take the time to do so. Aside from your living space, it is also a good habit to keep a planner or to do lists to keep your actual life organized or at least provide some structure. This will help you improve the quality of your life by allowing you to gain more control of how you spend your time each day.
Sleep More – Take Naps If Needed – When you work full time and have what it feels like ten million responsibilities each day, it is very easy to cut back on the amount of sleep you are getting each night. If this applies to you, I would suggest finding spare time in your day where you can take a power nap or by getting in the habit of going to bed earlier or sleeping in a little if you have a schedule that can allow for that.
Turn Cell Phone Notifications Off – It is really hard to imagine life without a cell phone nowadays. As much as it has improved the quality of our lives by allowing us to easily stay connected with others, have information at our finger tips, and apps for just about anything, there also comes a time it is healthy to turn the notifications off. If you are with other company, trying to be productive, working, or in a situation where you do not need to be attached to your phone, it is okay to put it aside and not check it for a few hours. You would be amazed how much quality time you can add back to your everyday life just by putting your cell phone down every so often.
This is just a short list of suggestions for improving the quality of your life that have really worked for me in recent years and are good things to apply if you do not already. All it takes is some added mindfulness and taking small steps to make these daily changes that will make an impact over time.
One would think that the more time you have, the more productive you are; however, that is not always the case. The lack of structure can actually make it even more challenging to increase your productivity during the day. When you have your day set with booked appointments, assigned work hours, and planned engagements, you can be held accountable for how you are investing your time.
Due to the current pandemic we are facing, there are many people who now have more time than they ever did before. Many find themselves unemployed or are forced to stay at home the majority of the day due to social distancing practices and business closures which has also put limits on our social lives. Time is one of our most valuable resources so it is essential to actually maximize this extra time we now have on our hands rather than let it waste away and have nothing to show for it. I am not saying that you should not utilize this time towards some relaxation or to catch up on some Netflix series but do you want to look back during this moment in your life and see it as lost time in which you could have done more but you didn’t?
Whether we are living through a pandemic or not, let’s take a look at some ways to better manage your time during your day-to-day life:
Plan Your Day the Day Before – If you do not already take the time to write daily to-do lists for yourself, then now is a good time to start. When I say write it down, I literally mean, get out a piece of paper and a pen and write it down! If you prefer the more digital route and rather write your lists on your cell phone or computer, then that can work effectively as long as you actually look at it and have access to it. I am constantly writing to do lists for myself for the week and for the day ahead. I find writing a general list of what I absolutely want to get done the day before is a good time management technique because I am planting the seed in my mind the day before of what my upcoming day is going to look like as opposed to just being spontaneous about it. Often times, I do not get every single thing accomplished and that is okay! I make sure I prioritize what is most important that I get done first and leave the remaining items on the list for the following day. Certain tasks might take a series of days to accomplish anyhow so it is important to be realistic about how much you can actually do. Everyone has their own way of pacing themselves and the goal is to find that balance without stressing yourself with too much or not assigning yourself with enough things to do to begin with.
Set Alarms and Set Aside Specific Times – If you want to take your daily to-do list a step further, choose specific times of your day that you are actually going to do a certain activity. When I set an alarm during the day and it goes off, I know I have to stop whatever it was that I was currently doing to go work on the assigned task I wanted to accomplish at that specific time. This is important because if you do not assign a time, you might keep putting it off until you reach the end of the night and you realize you did not get what you really wanted to get done. Even if it is a simple task, setting an appointment for yourself will better ensure that you follow through and can check it off your list by the end of the day.
Reduce the Digital Distractions – We live in a world where often times we are attached to our cell phones and/or computers. It is okay to put it aside sometimes and not check on it at certain points during your day. There are ways to reduce the distractions by turning off all the notifications altogether or by leaving the phone in another room so it is not at arm’s reach. This way there is no temptation to pick it up and check on your latest messages or get lost on social media.
Incorporate Do Not Disturb Hours – Mainly at night, I literally have “do not disturb” hours at a certain point where I will not take any phone calls after a certain time. Lately, my evenings have been my designated times of productivity in which I refuse to take a phone call during those hours. I will just let it go to voicemail or I might send a quick text saying that I will return the phone call the following day or at a time that works best for them. Whatever those times are for you, set blocks of time during the day that you will under no circumstances (unless it is an emergency) take phone calls. This will help you stay focused and get more accomplished without any disruptions.
Find Ways to Recharge – As much as it is important to want to stay self motivated and want to accomplish as much as you can in one day, there should also be some down time and breaks added to prevent yourself from over working yourself. For me personally, I like to go out for a walk on a nice day or I might take the time to connect with someone by making a phone call. Another way I like to recharge is by taking a mini coffee break for an energy boost or on the opposite extreme, I find an afternoon nap to be extra satisfying and a real luxury when I make the time for one. The importance of clocking in enough sleep cannot be underestimated so on days I went to bed late and woke up too early, I find taking a nap in the mid afternoon can be extra beneficial in order for me to get more done later that day simply by obtaining a little extra rest.
This highlights some ways to more effectively manage your time, especially during instances when you might have more time than usual and want to continue to stay productive.