We have a special post for you this Friday, Mavens!
Our awesome real life friend and guest maven, Tammy Strobel of Rowdy Kittens (she’s the one who lives in a tiny house, remember?) has a new book out called You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap). We’re so excited for her! We love her story and how she lives her life, so we invited her to stop by here with a special post along her book tour. She also shares an excerpt from the book- read on below to learn how she radically simplified her life, and how you can too!
Time Is the Only Real Wealth
Instead of resigning ourselves to lives in which 75 percent of the day is less enjoyable or at best, neutral, we can find ways to enliven and transform these moments. — Todd Kashdan
There are 24 hours in a day, 168 hours in a week, and 672 hours in a month. After sleeping and working there is still time left to focus on what matters to you. Yet, time can be wasted very quickly. Over the years I’ve wasted a lot of my time; activities that come to mind include watching bad TV, spending way too much time on Twitter, and going to networking events that I didn’t enjoy.
To manage my time more effectively I’ve incorporated a few very simple time management rules into my daily routine. These strategies have enabled me to spend more time on my passions, things like reading, writing, and photography. I hope you’ll consider incorporating these tips into your daily routine.
1. Track it. Late last year, I felt like I was wasting too much time so I started tracking it. I printed out a copy of my Google calendar and recorded how I spent my time for one week. I recorded all of my activities, including:
-Internet browsing and TV watching.
-And other odds and ends.
My time tracking results surprised me. Why? Well, I had a whole lot more time at my disposal than I thought. I noticed that I was spending way too much time on social networks like Twitter and Facebook. So I started taking weekly digital sabbaticals, where I didn’t go online for the whole weekend.
Then in July of 2011, I took a month long digital sabbatical because I needed a break from the web. The sabbatical helped me refocus and re-prioritize my online time. For example, when I open up my browser I’m intentional about what I’m doing, whether that means doing research or checking my email. I love the Internet, but I also know there are only so many hours in a day.
2. Create space for solitude. By tracking my time and saying no more often, I’ve created space for solitude. I need time by myself to think deeply about ideas and to write. Without alone time, I feel frazzled and unable to come up with good writing ideas.
3. Practice Your Passions. I recorded a brief audio segment about why deliberate practice is so important. Listen in by clicking here.
By incorporating these simple rules into my daily routine, I’m a whole lot happier and have the time to focus on creative projects. And it all started with the simple act of tracking my time.
I talk about these tips in my new book, You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap). Below is a short excerpt from Chapter 8, Time Is the Only Real Wealth.
An excerpt from, You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap)
It was a cool August day in Lake Tahoe, and my mom and I were sitting on the beach reading. She was leafing through the latest issue of a real estate magazine, and I was reading a book called Curious? by Todd Kashdan. I turned to my mom and said, “This is incredible!”
My mom slid her sunglasses down the bridge of her nose and asked, “What’s so incredible?”
“Well, according to Todd Kashdan, most people spend less than 20 percent of their day engaged in meaningful work or activities, like talking with close friends, making love, or just playing.”
My mom’s mouth fell open. “That’s shocking! It makes me wonder if people have fun anymore.”
It turns out that a number of researchers have asked the same question. For instance, in 2007, Princeton economist Alan Krueger published a fascinating paper called “Are We Having More Fun Yet?” Over the past ten years, massive technological advances should have given people a vast amount of newly free time. According to Krueger, that’s not the case. Americans feel they still don’t have enough time to engage in meaningful or challenging activities.
I have come to see time as a nonrenewable resource and an extremely valuable commodity. It’s something we never get back. Nor can we hoard it or always count on having it. Tomorrow, our account may be bankrupt. Since that’s true, we each need to evaluate how we’re spending this resource. In general, I’ve chosen to make less money for the freedom to spend a week like the one I was having with my parents at Lake Tahoe. If I was working a traditional job, I wouldn’t have been sitting on the beach with my mom, engrossed in a meaningful conversation. That said, I still work hard and struggle to find the perfect balance between work and play. My work fills me with happiness, but sometimes not working creates stress and feelings of guilt.
Interestingly, one study examined how focusing on personal time versus money influenced an individual’s pursuit of happiness. Researchers found that when subjects focused on spending time with friends and family, they worked less and were happier, whereas those who focused on making more money worked more, socialized less, and were not as happy. In essence, “increased happiness requires a shift in attention toward time.” I’ve found this to be true in my own life. Spending more time with friends and family members and starting my own business were key elements in how I viewed happiness.
As I worked to make this happen, I started tracking my time (for more about doing this, see 168 Hours by Laura Vanderkam). It’s been a very beneficial exercise that has helped me figure out how many hours of leisure time I have, how much time I spend working, and how much time I “waste.” I’m much more mindful of how I spend my time now. Time is magical and I want to make the most of it.
From the book “You Can Buy Happiness (And It’s Cheap).” Copyright 2012 by Tammy Strobel. Reprinted with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA. www.newworldlibrary.com or 800-972-6657.
Tammy Strobel is a writer, photographer, and tiny house enthusiast. She created her blog, RowdyKittens.com, to share her story of embracing simplicity. Since then, her story has been featured in the New York Times, The Today Show, USA Today, CNN, MSNBC, and in a variety of other media outlets. Tammy writes regularly at www.rowdykittens.com and her new book is called, “You Can Buy Happiness (and it’s Cheap).”