Unfortunately, this often leads to burnout and declining health. And that leads to a decrease in happiness.
When people are dissatisfied with life, it's often due to not feeling in control of their time. And while you may think that those with the most free time are the happiest, that isn't the case: A recent article in The Atlantic examined the optimal amount of leisure time, and found that people who are busy tend to be happier than those who are idle.
The proof: a 2018 study in the Social Science Research Network, which examined the relationship between discretionary time and life satisfaction. After studying 35,375 Americans, researchers discovered that the ratings of employed individuals satisfaction with life peaked when they had around 2.5 hours of daily free time. For individuals who don't work, the optimal amount peaked around 4.45 hours.
A feeling of too much time led people to feel idle and feelings of too little time led people to feel stressed. It reminds me of a critical lesson that applies to most things: not too little, and not too much. Staying balanced and in homeostasis is the key to happiness and contentment.
As you attempt to strike your perfect balance, implement these two simple habits.
1. Schedule your leisure activities first.
We may live in a work-obsessed culture, but you don't have to place your life on the back burner in pursuit of career success. As with most things in life, difficulties and struggles arise from feeling overwhelmed.
Growing your business can feel overwhelming due to a lack of order on which actions should be implemented next, just like healthy eating can feel overwhelming because of a lack of structure and systems. Scheduling will help--and as you schedule your upcoming week during the weekends, pencil in leisure time first.
2. Identify your drainers.
We all have those activities during the day that we procrastinate on, resist doing until the last minute, or do but feel mentally and emotionally drained afterward. These are called drainers. On the opposite end of the spectrum are drivers--habits and activities that bring energy and joy into your life.
This simple exercise introduced to me by a mentor during a conversation over coffee will work wonders in your life. To get started, grab a sheet of paper, draw a straight line down the middle of it, and label drivers on one side while labeling drainers on the other.
Now, list everything during your day-to-day operations that you don't enjoy and which lowers your energy and mood. Afterward, list things that bring you energy. What drainers can you get rid of or delegate to someone else? That's an easy place to get started.
Happiness comes down to taking practical actions in your everyday life and examining habits that aren't serving you in the big picture. No need to overcomplicate it.