Taking Control of Your Time

    enSeptember 26, 2022

    About this Episode

    Many of us feel like there aren't enough hours in the day. We struggle to make time for all the competing demands at work and at home, and inevitably feel like we're letting someone down. But what if there were a way to reclaim our time and, as a result, get more joy out of our lives?  This week, psychologist Cassie Mogilner Holmes explains how we've fallen victim to the illusion of time scarcity, and what we can do to spend our time more wisely. 

    Did you catch last week's episode about how we can better understand what's going on inside another person's head?  You can find it here. And if you like our work, please consider a financial contribution to help us make many more episodes like this one. 


    🔑 Key Takeaways

    • Prioritizing and making mindful choices about how we spend our time can lead to a happier, more fulfilling life, according to UCLA researcher Cassie Mogilner Holmes. Having all the time in the world isn't the answer - it's about spending it deliberately and in ways that align with our values.
    • When we have too much free time, we can become unproductive and feel a lack of purpose, which can lead to dissatisfaction and poor cognitive function. Working provides engagement and fulfillment in life.
    • By tracking our time and prioritizing activities that bring us joy and fulfillment, we can take more control over our lives and reduce stress. Mindfulness and data analysis are essential tools for creating a purposeful life.
    • By tracking time, one can optimize their allocation of essential, enjoyable, and non-essential activities, leading to greater satisfaction and reduced stress. Mindless scrolling and time-wasting activities should be minimized to make time for what truly matters.
    • Being mindful of how we use our time helps avoid stress and distraction. Feeling time-scarce reduces our willingness to help others. Prioritize what's important and avoid the trap of time scarcity.
    • Prioritize tasks based on purpose and values, reframe your relationship with time, and optimize it for your own happiness. Don't fall into the trap of saying yes to everything and feeling overwhelmed.
    • Paying attention to the present moment can help you appreciate the joys in your daily routine and prevent hedonic adaptation. Practicing mindfulness can lead to greater happiness and satisfaction in life.
    • Prioritize experiences that align with our values to lead a happier life. Use tools like writing our own eulogies and doing the 'times left exercise' to become more aware of our limited time and cherish joyful moments.
    • Recognize the value of time and seek out moments of transcendence to expand our perspective and sense of self-efficacy. Appreciate the value of our moments and make time for what matters to us.
    • Focus on what truly matters and engage in meaningful activities, even in small increments. Beat distraction to expand our time. Creating special traditions with loved ones can have a profound impact on happiness and satisfaction.

    📝 Podcast Summary

    Rethinking Our Relationship with Time

    The pressures of a fast-paced life can leave many feeling burned out and overwhelmed. However, rethinking our relationship with time can lead to spending it more deliberately and in ways that align with our values and make us happier. UCLA researcher Cassie Mogilner Holmes studies the effects of time on wellbeing. She has found that having all the time in the world does not necessarily lead to greater happiness. Instead, it is important to prioritize and make mindful choices about how we spend our time. Taking a step back to assess our relationship with time can help us live happier and more fulfilling lives.

    The Negative Effects of Too Much Discretionary Time on Productivity and Purpose

    Having too much discretionary time can lead to feelings of unproductivity and a lack of purpose, leading to dissatisfaction and decreased cognitive function. Work provides engagement and productivity, and without it, we may feel unfulfilled.

    The Power of Time Tracking: How to Reduce Stress and Increase Happiness

    Psychologist Cassie Holmes has found that people often underestimate how much control they have over making their lives less busy and stressful. By tracking her own time and closely analyzing how she spends it, she discovered that the problem was not a lack of time, but the way she was thinking about time and her priorities. Time tracking involves writing down activities and rating them on a happiness scale to identify what brings joy and what doesn't. This data can help individuals prioritize activities that produce the greatest amount of happiness and enhance overall satisfaction. The key takeaway is that being mindful of our thoughts about time and using data to guide our choices can help us create a more fulfilling and purposeful life.

    The Value of Time Tracking for Happiness and Fulfillment

    Through time tracking, individuals can understand and optimize their allocation of time between essential, enjoyable, and non-essential activities. Allowing intrusions from non-essential activities jeopardizes time set aside for relaxation and rejuvenation, leading to reduced levels of happiness. Also, mindlessly scrolling and spending significant amounts of time on non-essential activities such as social media can result in time-deprived situations where individuals feel too busy to engage in activities that truly matter to them. Therefore, time tracking enables people to invest their time in activities that promote happiness and fulfillment while reducing those that do not.

    The Importance of Being Mindful of Time

    Being mindful about how we spend our time can help us avoid distractions and have more moments of joy. The less mindful we are, the more stressed and over-scheduled we feel, which can affect our personal happiness and behavior toward others. Studies have shown that feeling time-scarce makes us less likely to help others, even among the kindest individuals like college students and seminary students. Simply thinking about how busy we are can also make us less willing to help others. It's important to recognize where we can reallocate our time to prioritize what's important and avoid falling into the trap of time scarcity.

    How to Overcome the Yes-Damn Effect and Optimize Your Time for Happiness

    Often, we fall prey to the Yes-Damn Effect, presuming that we will have more time in the future than we do now. As a result, we agree to commitments that we cannot fulfill, leading to stress and burnout. It's important to prioritize tasks using a purpose filter, considering if we would do them today and if they align with our values. Moreover, we need to recalibrate our relationship with time and stop thinking of it as a limited resource, but rather as a tool to achieve our goals. Instead of always striving to have more time, we must learn to use our time wisely and optimize it for our own happiness.

    How Mindfulness Can Turn Your Dull Weekend into a Vacation

    Treating weekends like vacations and being fully engaged in activities by being mindful and present in the moment can increase happiness and satisfaction in life. Hedonic adaptation, or getting used to routine, causes us to not notice joys in our daily lives. Being a tourist in our own lives by paying attention to what's around us can help us break this adaptation. Mindfulness can be applied to other aspects of life, such as time and money, to improve our relationships with them and ultimately increase happiness.

    Perspectives on Time and Money and Its Implications on Our Lives

    Thinking about time versus money can influence how we plan and spend our time. When people are in a time-focused mindset, they tend to engage in happier activities and social connections. On the other hand, a money-focused mindset leads people to plan to spend more time working. Being intentional and thoughtful about how we spend our time can align our values and make us feel happier. Writing our own eulogies can help us clarify our values and prioritize our time accordingly. The 'times left exercise' is also an effective tool to count and cherish the joyful moments in life. By becoming aware of our limited time, we can make the most of it and focus on experiences that truly matter.

    The Value of Time: How Moments of Transcendence Can Expand Our Worldview.

    Recognizing the preciousness of time before it's passed us by is crucial to avoid regrets. Seeking out moments of transcendence, such as exercise, can help expand our perspective and sense of self-efficacy, making us more productive and generous with our time. When we feel time-poor, we withdraw, limiting ourselves and our potential, but with awe-inspiring experiences, our world and sense of time expand. It's essential to appreciate the value of our moments and make time for what matters to us, not just what we think we should do.

    Broadening Our Perspective on Time

    When we step back and look at time from a broader perspective, it opens up the possibilities of what we can do with our time. It helps us think about what we truly value in life and spend more time on things that are important rather than just urgent. It's not about how much time we spend, but how engaged we are during that time. Creating special traditions or routines with loved ones, even if it's just 30 minutes a week, can have a profound impact on our happiness and overall satisfaction with life. By beating distraction, we can expand our time and focus on what matters most.

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