We all hope to get more time from our day. Most of us, I imagine also want to be happier. This article discusses ways to better manage your time that will help increase your overall mood.
1 Limit television watching to one hour a day
By setting this time restriction on your television habit, you have retrieved so much more time to do all those things you want to be doing. What’s more, time spent away from the television will be far more fulfilling and meaningful then merely watching others do their thing. Since you only have an hour, decide what you want to watch. If you can, record your favourites so you know you have something to look forward to each night. This way you are also taking control of TV time — watching what you enjoy, rather than whatever is on.
2 Get some exercise
You may be wondering how adding something to your day will save you time. Because exercise brings with it multiple benefits. It’s your stress reliever, your time-out for the day and your mood booster. You are also doing your body lots of good, which may help prevent health difficulties later on in life. Think of the time saved not having to go to the doctors? As a further happiness booster, it gives you the ideal opportunity to set and achieve your own personal goals and challenges. How satisfying.
3 Set and prioritise your goals
I’ve just mentioned setting goals as part of your exercise plan. It’s worth mentioning them in their own right however. If you can set and prioritise goals, it allows you to focus on doing the important things each and every day. Your goals can be short ones that are achieved in a day or longer ones that take months or even years to achieve. For longer goals, break them down into achievable chunks. As a consequence, not only are you getting things done, but you are giving meaning to your day, which is bound to help you feel happier.
4 Don’t waste your time on meaningless or pointless tasks
So if goals give you meaning, it makes sense to not waste your precious time on stuff that you get nothing from. I don’t mean routine tasks like the washing up, after all it can be satisfying having a clean house. I mean that one more game of solitaire that you’re playing because you’re procrastinating and are getting nothing from it. If you can identify what your pointless tasks are, resolve to stop doing them. You can make better use of your day. Ask yourself if it is getting you towards your goal?
5 Make lists
Each day, write down in order of importance, the things you need to do. Be as clear as possible, so you know what you should be doing. Having a list will give you focus. It will also help you feel organised and in control. Be realistic with your lists, however. Knowing you cannot accomplish absolutely everything will help ease a burden you may have created for yourself. At the end of each day, review your crossed-off items, and feel happy with all you have achieved. As for anything you didn’t get done – just put it on tomorrow’s list.
6 Stop multitasking
You may think that multitasking is a great way of using time effectively, after all you are doing two or more things at once. However, it just does not work. You cannot give your all to two tasks which means it is highly likely that one or both tasks will be completed less than satisfactorily. This means having to do them over. So save time and get it right the first time. You will end up feeling far more satisfied. What’s more, by engaging in activities this way, you put yourself in a great position to experience flow, which is a great source of happiness. With a flow experience you are totally focused on the job at hand and afterward feel pretty good about yourself.
7 Focus on the here and now
This relates to the previous point. By attending to what is going on right now, your concentration levels will be far greater. This means limiting your distractions, no matter what you are doing. Distractions come in varied forms: email, other people or your own thoughts. If you have a lot to do, it’s easy to fret about what may happen in the future, or what went wrong yesterday. By being present in the present, you are in the best position to ensure your future will turn out fine.
8 Get support from others
Don’t try going it alone. It won’t do your health and happiness much good. Being able to turn to others and ask for help, will relieve your stress. You may even live longer with supportive friends and/or partner in your life. Of course, to save time you really should delegate. It could be the help of a co-worker on a project or your teenage son’s assistance with the shopping. Hand whatever it is over to someone else, then trust them to get on with it.
9 Increase your courage
Do you have the courage to say no? When people ask you to do something, do you add it to your pile of duties? Even though you know you don’t have the time or you simply just do not want to do it? If you can be honest and true to yourself, you will feel so much better for it. You are freeing up valuable hours to do the things that are important to you. Honesty and courage are both character strengths that are worth nurturing.
10 Take a break
Working until you are burnt out is not time efficient. Nor is having less sleep, because you will end up working at half capacity. You need the mental and physical energy to get the most from the time available to you. So be okay taking regular breaks. A few minutes throughout the day, time off at weekends, short vacations (a long one would be even better) — it all makes a difference. And make sure you allow enough time to sleep each night. Life will feel more manageable, and you will feel more in control and ultimately happier.
Copyright Julia Barnard
Julia Barnard is a counsellor and author living in Adelaide, Australia. You can discover more ways to be happy through her book: Promoting Happiness: a workbook to help you appreciate and get the most out of your life.