Time and How to Spend It (2019) draws on scientific research to help people make better decisions about how to use their free time. With so many choices vying for our attention these days, author James Wallman offers a straightforward checklist that can help people spend their time in more meaningful and rewarding ways.
It’s pretty common for concerns about free time to take a back seat to concerns about being more productive. Indeed, if you were raised in a capitalist society, you may think that time not spent earning money is time wasted. This might even be why we tend to idealize people who are always busy taking care of the next piece of business.
Our desire to be efficient also explains why we tend to feel like we have less free time than we actually do.
Studies have shown that the average American has five hours and fourteen minutes of free time per day, while the average Brit has five hours and forty-nine minutes.
Yet other studies show that, despite these healthy sums, four out of five Americans feel they don’t have enough time to do what they’d like, while three out of four Brits feel they aren’t getting the most out of their time.
But there are other reasons for feeling like we don’t have much free time.
At the top of this list is the fact that people spend a daily average of three and a half hours interacting with their phones. This often comes from the fact that with so many emails, texts and social media updates arriving daily, there’s an anxiety-inducing fear of missing out on something – known as FOMO – which results in hours spent just keeping up with your digital life.
But here’s the thing: even though we place a high value on work and productivity, they aren’t the only important things in life, especially when it comes to feeling happy and satisfied. According to multiple studies from institutions like Harvard Business School and Cornell University, what really brings happiness into people’s lives are experiences.
While this is a pretty interesting idea on its own, research also shows that happiness is a strong precursor to success. Conventional wisdom usually tells us that happiness is a byproduct of success, and yet a lot of evidence suggests that it’s actually the other way around.
What all of this adds up to is that positive experiences lead to happiness, which in turn leads to success. So to achieve success, we should try to have positive experiences. The question then becomes: What is a positive experience, and how can I introduce more of them into my life? This is precisely what we’ll find out in the blinks ahead.