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6 Factors Besides Salary That Boost Happiness

6 Factors Besides Salary That Boost Happiness
Hand with Money

Money is obviously an important factor when one considers issues like quality of life but it may not be the only thing. I find that those who describe themselves as “happy” are not always wealthy but have integrated other balancing strategies in their lives, placing income within a larger picture of work-life balance. It turns out that the Wall Street Journal agrees with this, as does workplace author Penelope Trunk, author of Brazen Careerist, The New Rules for Success. Trunk argues that one’s sex life may be just as important as their level of income when it comes to happiness. Here are some other factors which can boost one’s level of personal peace and happiness. Hint: no dollar sign required.

  1. Decrease your commute. I spent ten years driving nearly an hour each way to work, not uncommon for many American workers. Then, I made the decision to pay more for a home and live six miles from work. The effect has been significant as my wife can stop by work anytime and I cash in on more sleep, all the while adding to the lifespan of my car.
  2. Routine your luxuries. A few years ago I started ‘routining’ my luxuries. Instead of stopping by Starbucks every morning on the way to work for a pick-me-up and racking up a huge bill each week, I decided to go out for breakfast one day per week. I’m a Tuesday morning guy now and my wallet thanks me for it. Sticking to one day a week makes a lot of sense (and cents) for me.
  3. Scale down the to-do list. Rather than beating yourself up over a to-do list that rarely decreases, scale back on expectations. This doesn’t mean decreasing quality but rather starting the day with this question, “What are the 2-3 most important tasks that need to get done today?”
  4. Tune out the noise. A minute of quiet goes a long way. Some times that you can decrease the noise might be: during a commute, walking at lunch or during a break, stopping on the way home to read a chapter of a meaningful book, or at some other quiet time during the day when you can close the door and be alone with your thoughts. I find this discipine difficult but never failing in its reward.
  5. Do nothing for one day. It wasn’t long ago that stores were closed on Sundays. My family has made a conscious decision to do nothing work-related for one day each week. It’s taken us about a month to get it down as we enjoy working, shopping and running errands. Spending time together, watching movies, reading and playing games has taken up what commerce used to and we’re now looking forward to that “day off” each week.
  6. Declutter and simplify. Clear the deck and pair back, not for some moral reason (although one could make a case) but for practical peace of mind. The more things, the more space they take up in your home and in your head. Toss what you haven’t used in a while and go for simple. Whether it’s a family room, your automobile or even a back yard, less is more.

Mike St. Pierre is the creator of The Daily Saint, a productivity blog focusing on work-life balance. thedailysaint.com

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Last Updated on October 15, 2019

Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

Procrastination is very literally the opposite of productivity. To produce something is to pull it forward, while to procrastinate is to push it forward — to tomorrow, to next week, or ultimately to never.

Procrastination fills us with shame — we curse ourselves for our laziness, our inability to focus on the task at hand, our tendency to be easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. And with good reason: for the most part, time spent procrastinating is time spent not doing things that are, in some way or other, important to us.

There is a positive side to procrastination, but it’s important not to confuse procrastination at its best with everyday garden-variety procrastination.

Sometimes — sometimes! — procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In those rare instances, we should embrace procrastination — even as we push it away the rest of the time.

Why we procrastinate after all

We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some better than others. One reason we procrastinate is that, while we know what we want to do, we need time to let the ideas “ferment” before we are ready to sit down and put them into action.

Some might call this “creative faffing”; I call it, following copywriter Ray Del Savio’s lead, “concepting”.[1]

Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time spent dreaming up what you want to say or do, weighing ideas in your mind, following false leads and tearing off on mental wild goose chases, and generally thinking things through.

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To the outside observer, concepting looks like… well, like nothing much at all. Maybe you’re leaning back in your chair, feet up, staring at the wall or ceiling, or laying in bed apparently dozing, or looking out over the skyline or feeding pigeons in the park or fiddling with the Japanese vinyl toys that stand watch over your desk.

If ideas are the lifeblood of your work, you have to make time for concepting, and you have to overcome the sensation— often overpowering in our work-obsessed culture — that faffing, however creative, is not work.

So, is procrastination bad?

Yes it is.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re “concepting” when in fact you’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing.

Spending an hour staring at the wall while thinking up the perfect tagline for a marketing campaign is creative faffing; staring at the wall for an hour because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline, or don’t know the product you’re marketing well enough to come up with one, is just wasting time.

Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned thoroughly enough, we haven’t specified the scope of what we hope to accomplish in the immediate present, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to get the job done.

It’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into spinning our wheels doing nothing. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.

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The answer to this is in planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform an unspecified task (“Let’s see, I guess I’ll work on that spreadsheet for a while”) give yourself a limited amount of time to work on a clearly defined task (“Now I’ll enter the figures from last months sales report into the spreadsheet for an hour”).

Giving yourself a deadline, even an artificial one, helps build a sense of urgency and also offers the promise of time to “screw around” later, once more important things are done.

For larger projects, planning plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll spend too much time procrastinating to reach the end reasonably quickly.

A good plan not only lists the steps you have to take to reach the end, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps.

Instead of futzing around doing nothing because you don’t have last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project.

Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.

How bad procrastination can be

Our mind can often trick us into procrastinating, often to the point that we don’t realize we’re procrastinating at all.

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After all, we have lots and lots of things to do; if we’re working on something, aren’t we being productive – even if the one big thing we need to work on doesn’t get done?

One way this plays out is that we scan our to-do list, skipping over the big challenging projects in favor of the short, easy projects. At the end of the day, we feel very productive: we’ve crossed twelve things off our list!

That big project we didn’t work on gets put onto the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again. And again.

Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves.

In many cases too, big tasks aren’t really tasks at all; they’re aggregates of many smaller tasks. If something’s sitting on your list for a long time, each day getting skipped over in favor of more immediately doable tasks, it’s probably not very well thought out.

You’re actively resisting it because you don’t really know what it is. Try to break it down into a set of small tasks, something more like the tasks you are doing in place of the one big task you aren’t doing.

More consequences of procrastination can be found in this article:

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8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

Procrastination, a technical failure

Procrastination is, more often than not, a sign of a technical failure, not a moral failure.

It’s not because we’re bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we’ve set ourselves.

It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastinating tendencies, to ask ourselves whenever we notice ourselves pushing things forward what it is about the task we’ve set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.

Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com

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