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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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