Gretchen Rubin has been a friend of mine since the early days of our blogs. Her first book, The Happiness Project, became an international bestseller, and I was excited to read her latest effort, Happier at Home. The new book focuses on ways we can make our homes places of greater simplicity, comfort, and love.
Since I specialize in careers and work, I naturally zeroed in on the part of the book that focuses on work/life balance. Managing your time well is critical, because, as Gretchen points out, it only passes faster as we get older. She cites poet Robert Southy, who explained:
“Live as long as you may, the first twenty years are the longest half of your life. They appear so while they are passing, they seem to have been so when we look back on them, and they take up more room in our memory than all the years that succeed them.”
Since we don’t “notice” life as much once we’re in our twenties, thirties, and beyond, it’s especially important that we make an effort to be mentally present in each moment. Happier at Home has dozens of recommendations to this effect, but here are a few that directly apply to the subject of work:
- Do you have kids? Even though taking care of them can sometimes be boring, resist the urge to check your phone in their presence. In fact, put the phone away, as it’s admittedly hard to resist.
- Don’t check e-mail at bedtime. The stimulation of reading certain messages will energize you and you’ll have trouble falling asleep.
- Don’t type away on your smartphone when traveling from one place to another. Instead of forcing yourself to use this time productively, leave yourself open to new thoughts, ideas, and experiences.
- Do understand when you are most efficient at doing different tasks, and work around that. I, for example, get better quality writing done if I respect that my mental focus is sharpest in the late afternoon.