Ideas on How to Spend Your Time Where it Matters Most
It’s New Year’s resolution time again. Research shows that more than half of us make them and the three most popular ones involve losing weight, getting organized, and spending less money. Still, since it seems that making resolutions (and breaking them quickly) has become something of a joke in our culture, I’d like to take them a little more seriously here, in our last #THRIVE15 post.
It seems like every year, people feel more and more stress. The world is moving so quickly, it often feels like the only way to keep up is by overloading your schedule, multi-tasking, and being in a “working” mindset 24/7/365. I don’t think noble proclamations at a New Year’s Eve party are going to change that. But conscious decisions can. So instead of resolutions, let’s call them New Year’s solutions this year. And I think I’ve found a few that may help you enjoy a better 2016.
1. Use Technology “Smarter” to Save Time and Make Life Easier
Most new technologies claim to save time or reduce work. But in reality,they often just give us more things to deal with, learn about, and incorporate into a schedule that’s too busy to begin with. Ever hear anyone bragging about how much more time and less work they’ve got now that they’ve got a smartphone, iPad, and five social media accounts?
So my first “New Year’s solution” is to start ruling technology instead of being ruled by it. Next year, let’s be intentional about how we use technology in our lives, and how much of a role we’ll give any new ones that come around. Let’s use them when they really help us, but without making them into obsessions that expand to fill more space in our lives than we can afford to give them.
During 2016, I will be introducing another series of year-long posts that will periodically offer thoughts on how we can live easier and better by using technology more intelligently. Look for the first post in that #MindfulTech series come January.
2. Unplug More
New Year’s solution #2 flows pretty directly from the things I said above. Let’s promise ourselves to get away from our laptops, desktops, tablets and cell phones long enough to see what else is going on. I talked about some of the benefits of doing this in a post a while back. And it’s rather obvious that you will be able to put more and better thought into any issue or question if you put your whole brain on the case.
3. Save Time for Family
Here’s another one you really have to think about differently. Achieving work-life balance isn’t some outdated notion of heroically prying yourself away from your demanding office to spend more time with your spouse and children. Remember, this is a New Year’s solution. When you make time for your family, you’ll find that the opportunity to spend more time with the people you love most is its own reward. And is it a solution? Absolutely. You’ll be calmer, feel less stress, and be better equipped to handle challenging matters at work or elsewhere when they arise in less time.
For a little more on work-life balance, check out a post I wrote on it earlier this year.
4. Practice Mindfulness
My next resolution – pardon me, I mean solution– is built around an unusual word: “mindfulness.” Mindfulness is an increasingly popular concept that means attending fully to the moment you are in. You are not remembering yesterday, or worrying about all you have to do tomorrow. You are simply focusing attention on what you are doing or what is happening around you right now, whatever that is.
Psychologists suggest that mindfulness is an ideal way to combat the information overload that stresses us out every day. “Living in the moment” is a phrase you’ve probably heard; it really helps you enjoy, appreciate, and experience that moment instead of letting it slip past you. This practice may also help you make better decisions and think more clearly about an issue, which can certainly save time in your workday and help avoid rash or unwise decisions.
5. Stand Out….Be YOU!
The last “solution” I’d like to offer for 2016 is simple: be the individual that you are. Research shows that many people crave to be singled out and appreciated as special and unique while many others simply do not like the thought of getting lost in the crowd. So don’t let that happen. Your unique attributes are what make you interesting; there’s no other YOU like YOU. Why not celebrate that fact in 2016? Sure will save a lot of time worrying about what others think of you, giving you more time to focus on the real challenges in your workday.
Well, that’s it for now. I’ve made one more resolution for myself that I am going to keep these blog posts a little shorter. But if you have any ideas for good resolutions (or solutions) to add to my list, I’d love to hear them. Call me and let’s discuss them.