While there are 24 hours in each day, it may seem like there are never enough to do everything you want to do. You may wonder exactly how to be a great worker and spouse and still find time for your own happiness. Fortunately, there are three easy ways to schedule happiness into your life.
1. Balance happiness and productivity
One of the clearest symptoms of the overly busy person is a constant sense of guilt about whether they should be somewhere else and doing something more productive. It can be anything from lunch with a childhood friend to a phone call to your parents, and the sense that this is chipping away at your productive time can be maddening. Fortunately, there’s a three-part step around this. Step one is being honest about the importance of these activities: emotionally recharging with friends and family really is a vital part of your productivity, and neglecting these emotional connections will ultimately make you crash and burn. Step two, then, is to set a firm schedule for these activities: knowing exactly when that lunch or phone call will begin and end, helps you to feel more in control while easing that gnawing guilt of not knowing exactly when an activity will end. The final step is to ignore pestering phone calls or emails during these activities, letting you fully enjoy this emotional recharging.
2. Create a detailed schedule (and don’t be afraid to make changes)
Often, the fear that we are wasting otherwise valuable time is a very abstract fear. After all, you typically don’t keep track of how much time is spent on various activities throughout the day. Now is the time to start: create a detailed calendar of your routine for at least a week. Detail how long it takes you to eat and get ready for work in the morning, how often and how long you exercise, how often and how long you socialize, and so on. Do this until you know where every minute of your 24 hours per day is going. Once you have this data, you can both prioritize and streamline: you may discover that showering before bed rather than in the morning gives you valuable extra reading time when you wake up. You may realize you barely see your friends due to other obligations and decide to go out more. No matter what you do, you now have control of your daily routine and can schedule happiness accordingly!
3. Share that schedule with those closest to you
Of course, the most disciplined schedule of daily happiness can be dashed by interruptions. Having that extra half hour to read may be misinterpreted by a spouse or roommate as a time that you can run an extra errand before work. Make sure that your calendar is known and visible to spouse/roommates and, as etiquette permits, your boss, and coworkers. This can feel guilt-inducing at first because it may seem the equivalent of telling someone that your time is more valuable than theirs. However, think of it this way (and remind them if you have to): the whole point of the schedule is that you can give 100 percent of yourself at a time to everything you need to do to maximize your happiness. That uninterrupted half hour of reading means you aren’t thinking about the book during date night, for instance. And given the ability to share your calendar with people via tools like Google Docs, it’s never been easier to make sure everyone is on the same page.