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Making Time for Things That Are Important to You

What do you really love doing but feel like you don't do enough because you're so busy and never seem to have the time? We all have — or should have — interests and hobbies beyond going to work and taking care of the house and family, but so many of us rarely have the time or energy to engage in them. But making time for things that are important to you is absolutely central to authentic happiness.


"Authentic happiness" is a phrase coined by the early pioneers of positive psychology, which is the scientific study of the ineherent strengths that lead you to thrive. When we lead meaningful and fulfilling lives cultivating our inherent strengths and living according to our values, it enhances everything else in our lives, and we're said to be "authentically happy."


The things that are important to you probably draw on your natural strengths and put you in a state of "flow." Here, time seems to be suspended, your mind is quiet, and you're perfectly content. This is the deeply relaxed alpha brain-wave state, which research shows reduces depression, heightens your imagination, and stimulates your creativity.


So, what puts you there? Sewing? Reading? Baking? Painting? What's important to you that you don't do nearly enough of because you feel like there are so many other things you should be doing? Those are the things you should probably be putting more effort into enjoying. They're good for your soul.


Here, then, are a few ways to make time for the important things.


Let some things slide.

If you're a perfectionist, you may spend a lot of extra time striving for excellence and precision in all things. Not only is "perfect" unrealistic and largely unattainable, but some things just don't need to be that perfect. Practice letting go of the need to be superior in all things big and small, and you may find you have time to focus on what's really important.


Eliminate time-suckers.

If you're over-extending your time, you won't have time for yourself. Look at your activities during any given week, and see if there's anything you can cut out or do more efficiently. Do you spend a lot of time saying "yes" when people make requests of you? Sometimes, it's okay to say no. Do you seem to spend most of your time and energy in the evenings picking up the house, handling dinner, and doing other domestic functions? Assign daily chores to the household, and plan ahead whenever you can.


Turn off the TV and log out of Facebook.

For many of us, a long day at work culminates in a marathon TV or Internet surfing binge. Limit yourself to a half hour of either, and then turn it off or log out, take a deep breath, and spend the rest of your TV/Internet time doing what's really important to you.


Pencil yourself in. 

You probably keep a calendar, and when you have an event on the calendar, you make time for it, right? Well, why not pencil yourself in? Every week, pick a block of time, and put your name on it. Tell the family that you have an appointment that day, and they'll need to get by without you for a while. Then, keep the appointment.


It's always possible to find time to do the things that are important to you, and doing so is important for your quality of life. Instead of putting these things on the low-priority list, move them to the top, and spend a little time each day doing what's important.

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