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Last Updated on December 17, 2020

Why Leisure Is the New Productivity and How to Reclaim Your Leisure Time

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Why Leisure Is the New Productivity and How to Reclaim Your Leisure Time

You’ve probably worked on a weekend, or had to scroll through emails, or answer text messages from a pushy client. In America, there’s something of an emergent “free time” problem.[1] 65% of employees feel the need to be available outside of work hours on phone and email. Nearly half of Americans (slightly more in some studies) report not having enough free time.

The work boundaries have become blurry

Fifteen years ago, most offices were completely rooted on-site: paperwork, records, and communication (phone, primarily) were all tied to you being physically in the office.

Technology changed that. With the advent of the cloud especially, anyone can access almost any file they need from anywhere. Text messages and emails go directly to your phone. The old “After 5pm I cannot access work resources” turned into “I might be expected to respond to something at 11:30pm.”

There is so much to get done at work and schedules are so tight that needs to be the focus. After all, work provides your livelihood. You need to do it well.

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Since there are only so many waking hours in a day, though, you need to cut something. Often this becomes leisure time. Leisure activities like hiking, reading, and spending time with family are often cut first for more hours of work.

Cutting leisure time is no good for productivity

Even though you’re working more, productivity is going to drop. A study conducted by the Institute for the Study of Labor has shown that 55 hours per week is a maximum ceiling on human productivity.[2] You might be expected to work more, but a person working 54 hours per week is about as productive as someone working 80 hours per week.

Leisure time is also crucial to creating bursts of insight and new ways of thinking. Very few people come up with big, great, innovative ideas while focused on the “getting, making, and doing” of day-to-day task work. When you’re too focused (as in task work), it’s easy to get stuck in one way of thinking. When you’re doing other things (i.e. leisure time), a concept called “diffuse thinking” kicks in[3] and the brain can actually analyze much more information at once. This leads to increased connections between events or ideas, which is good for coming up with new solutions and innovations.

The field of economics considers leisure a “normal commodity,” with the yield from leisure being satisfaction.[4] Leisure time is used for resting, sleeping, relationship-building, and doing things you enjoy, so it is inherently satisfaction-producing. Having less leisure time will therefore decrease satisfaction in individuals.

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Make leisure your productivity booster

Instead of cutting leisure time to work more, make time for leisure and utilize it to help you think about bigger ideas and work more efficiently. I understand it’s difficult to just stop working when you’re so busy and do something for leisure, so here are some steps to help you make time for leisure and turn it into your productivity booster.

Do what’s important

You can begin by thinking about a list of things you want to do during your free time. Then, ask yourself about a specific choice: Why is this important?

For an obvious example: sleep is important to be prepared for the next day and because the body requires it.

But here’s another example we often fall to: why would watching TV be important? Most people would answer that it entertains, informs, and helps us decompress after a long day. Those are all valid options, but what if something else — like a night basketball league — was more entertaining? Or what if podcasts (which you can listen to while running) were more informative? There might be easy replacements for TV-watching, instead of instantly falling into that idea.

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Schedule leisure time

Use “time blocking” to achieve this. Under this system, you finish works within a certain period of time — then go for other activities in your leisure time.

The ideal “time on” (work) vs. “time off” (leisure) ratio has been shown by science to be 52 minutes on, 17 minutes off.[5] Consider blocking time like that. When you have more leisure time, i.e. the weekend, schedule out the important activities (family time, exercise, reading, classes) first. Then let the other pieces fall into place around what’s important.

Take a break and come back stronger

If you’re not balancing your work with other aspects of your life like leisure time, you run the risk of becoming a totally unimaginative drone who isn’t enjoying life.

There will always be more work and deadlines in the future. Yes you have to tackle them but that doesn’t mean working on these things 24/7. By taking a break, you relax your body and mind and get yourself more prepared to deal with the challenges again when you’re back to work.

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Struggling about how to manage your time better so you can better balance your time spent on work and leisure? Take a look at my other article How to Gain More Time Like Making Money

Featured photo credit: Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on October 28, 2021

How to Organize Your Tasks With Weekly To-Do Lists

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How to Organize Your Tasks With Weekly To-Do Lists

It takes commitment to remain focused and make your week productive. A research conducted by the University of California revealed that you need 30 minutes to refocus after being distracted on a task[1]. With so many distractions pulling at our attention, how can we complete our weekly to-do lists?

With the introduction of new technologies and the popularization of remote work, you can expect more and more distractions. Meanwhile, it is possible to relieve yourself of pressure and burden when you master how to organize your chores, tasks, and responsibilities with weekly to-do lists.

What Is a Weekly To-Do List?

A to-do list is a schedule that itemizes what you need to and when you have to do it. The essence of a to-do list is to enable you to simplify your life and improve task management. You can plan your to-do list every week to ensure that you’re achieving what matters every week.

How to Plan Your Weekly To-Do Lists

Follow these steps to get yourself ready for the week ahead with a comprehensive, simple to-do list.

1. Select a Channel

It is important to find a medium that works for your task lists. You can utilize a pen and printable to-do list or leverage digital applications in managing your weekly to-do lists. However, research suggests that you can remember information better when you write by hand[2]. Nevertheless, find what helps motivate you more and stick with that.

2. Develop Multiple Lists

Your multiple lists should contain:

  • Master list
  • Weekly project list
  • HIT list

Your master list includes every task you want to achieve in the long-term. For instance, complete all Lifehack courses, clean out the bathtub, etc. Your project list contains all the tasks that demand your attention within the next seven days. And then, your high-impact list, or HIT list, includes tasks that you need to attend to within 24 hours.

Every evening, identify the items you need to move from your weekly to-do list to your HIT list for the next day.

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3. Make It Simple

Your weekly to-do lists should not be intimidating. You can simplify your HIT list by highlighting the chores and responsibilities you want to complete today and divide them into two. Ten items are perfect for your HIT list.The accumulation of your HIT list items makes up your weekly to-do li

Batch tasks when creating your weekly to-do lists.

    Begin your HIT list with 2 or 3 important tasks you need to carry out within 24 hours. That way, you don’t waste time cleaning the bathtub instead of completing the presentation that is due tomorrow morning.

    4. Break the Goals Down

    Instead of having an item such as “work on a Kindle book,” you can be more specific by making your goals more manageable. That way, you will eliminate the fear factor. You could have something like: write the book outline on Monday, write the first chapter on Tuesday, and the next chapter the following day.

    5. Include Detailed Information

    You should support every item on your weekly to-do list with information to complete the task. For instance, if an item says “register for a course,” you should include the website and course title. That way, you save yourself the time of scouring for information later.

    6. Time Every Item

    You have 10,080 minutes each week to complete all the tasks on your weekly to do lists. It is reasonable to allocate time for every item on your list. For instance: Write the introduction from 9 am-12 pm, clean the bathtub from 4-5 pm, pick up some groceries at the supermarket from 5-6 pm. Once your time expires, you move on to the next item.

    7. Establish Breaks

    You need to rest a bit after cleaning the bathtub before setting out. You can allocate 15 minutes to relax your mind or prepare for the next task.

    8. Make It Visible and Public

    You can share your to-do list with your accountability partner. Also, post it on your sticky notes, or add tasks to a digital calendar accessible by all team members.

    9. Allocate Time for Scheduling

    It takes time to prepare your weekly to do lists, and the best approach is to schedule a time for that task. Block out your Friday afternoon for organizing items on your weekly to-do lists.

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    10. Start With a Fresh Slate

    Don’t allow old tasks to clog up your schedule. Ensure you organize your tasks with a new list each week. Complete your HIT list each day so you don’t block your weekly project lists with old items.

    Now, it is not enough to prepare your weekly to-do lists; you need to master how to prioritize with the list for maximum productivity.

    How to Prioritize To-Do Lists

    Use the following techniques to maximize your productivity through prioritization.

    1. Use the Getting Things Done (GTD) Method

    David Allen, a productivity expert and author, affirmed that you can be productive despite having a long to-do list. How you plan is what counts. The Getting Things Done technique enables you to focus on your Most Impactful Tasks (MITs) instead of the number of tasks.

    2. Focus on One Task at a Time

    You are aware of which task needs urgent attention. All you need is to focus on that task and its due date before taking out the next.

    It’s not a long list that kills, but multitasking.

    If you choose not to multitask, you will realize that you can make notable progress on difficult projects. Not only that, but your stress level will go down, and you will find more joy in the tasks you’re completing[3].

    3. Evaluate Your Weekly Progress

    It is not easy selecting a few important plans for each week. That’s why you need to reflect every weekend on what worked the previous week and what did not.

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    Also, anytime you complete a task, don’t just tick it as “completed,” but label it as “progress.”

    On Friday evening, assess your Progress list, and study every item. How could it be improved? Follow this process every week.

    4. Ask for Help

    Sometimes, things get out of hand. The best strategy is to request assistance from your teammates, managers, or accountability partner.

    Avoid procrastinating on activities that go beyond your capabilities.

    5. Learn to Say No

    Sometimes, you feel compelled to consent to every request, and you would rather sacrifice all items on your weekly to-do lists to say yes.

    Say no[4] to things that your schedule and energy cannot accommodate. Do what counts towards your long-term objectives.

    Learn how to say no using this article.

    6. Focus on Outcomes, Not the Method

    Focusing on results helps you to determine how to assess your achievement. If you focus on the methods, you may find it difficult to say if an item has been achieved.

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    A result-oriented approach will enable you to mark your goal as “progress.”

    7. Share Your Productivity Strategy

    When you share what you are working on with your teammates, it helps you enjoy a maximum level of support. Furthermore, when you have actualized your goals, share the results with your team and inspire them to do the same.

    8. Choose Themes for Your Week

    If you have different tasks, you can divide your weekly to-do lists into five days of different work sections. Then, take out those tasks each week. Ensure you carry your teammates along on your day’s focus.

    Jack Dorsey[5], Twitter’s CEO, was highly focused when he was doing 80-hours of work per week in two companies. He was exceptionally focused on planning his day, so he developed a theme for his week:

    • Monday: Attend to management issues
    • Tuesday: Work on products
    • Wednesday: Marketing, communications, and growth
    • Thursday: Developers and partnerships
    • Friday: Corporate culture

    Steve Jobs was also productive due to his consistent plan. He held executive meetings on Monday, while he dedicated Wednesdays to advertising and marketing.

    9. Respect Others’ Time

    No one likes to be interrupted, be it via meetings or emails. Respect others’ time: no texts, email, or a call for unnecessary meetings. When you do this, others will be more likely to respect your time, helping you avoid unnecessary distractions.

    Final Thoughts

    Weekly to-do lists can be a great tool to keep you accountable and on task. Use your to-do lists to maximize your time by achieving a smaller set of important tasks and doing your best.

    Practice prioritization by completing your most important tasks first, and feel productive immediately. This will motivate you to push through the rest of the week.

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    More Tips on Getting Things Done

    Featured photo credit: Emma Matthews Digital Content Production via unsplash.com

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