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A Day in the Life of…

Let’s face it; we all have 24 hours in a day. The possibility of time travel hasn’t yet reached our era.

Sometimes it feels like these 24 hours never end. Other days fly by with the speed of light. The feeling of an ‘extended’ 24 hours is often connected with low energy levels, while days of enjoyment and pleasure give a full day more the feeling of getting in the zone (a great feeling, to be honest) and are gone in the blink of an eye. The sands of time flow more effortlessly when we enjoy, plan, and maximize our days with productivity.

When breaking it down, after having read quite a few articles on this topic, there are a few noticeable differences and trends. Factors such as where you live, what cultural aspects a person embraces, and the socio-economic situation are some of the determining components that see demographic-specific spikes of how one spends his/her 24 hours. 

But overall, these averages below seem to be peaking on a bell curve model. Measured during a working day (weekends excluded).

  • Work: 9 hours (incl. commuting)
  • Sleep: 6 hours
  • Eat: 1.5 hour (three meals a day)
  • Household activities: 2 hours
  • TV, socials (#): 4 hours
  • Other (*): 1.5 hours

(*): This includes socializing, hobbies, exercise, and reading, to name a few things that complete a daily workday. The other tasks done within a 24-hour time frame are extensive.

Going back to the productivity topic and how it can enrich our days, the feedback I often get is that “I don’t have the time”. Yet, these reports show that we spend more and more time in front of a screen (#) but without a productive mind set.

We browse but don’t do anything productive.

And our average time spent in front of a screen without being productive is on the rise. These screen browsing times liaise more towards temporary, short-term spikes in happiness. On the other hand, it can also be filed under the tab “productive time management”. This is another story.

It has been proven that when productivity increases, your dopamine levels go up. Dopamine activates a neurotransmitter which gives you the feeling of pleasure. Instilling activities that can release more dopamine are the trick to increasing your energy levels. Stimuli such as getting things done, exercise, music, or even preparing a nutritious meal, are all connected to more dopamine release. And therefore getting more productive can increase dopamine.

When health is your goal, it may help to plan your day or keep track of what you are doing from sunrise to sunset. You can write it down, or use an app (Google Calendar works fine), and see how your hours are actually filled. It is recommendable to do this before starting to amplify it. It may surprise you how much time you spend on your phone or in front of a screen browsing through stuff that you may well forget after 24 hours.

Productive? 

You can create your own way of happiness through productive time management.

There will be ups and downs in achieving productivity and finding the right balance. It may be that you are not constantly productive, and that is okay. But clearly recognizing when you are not productive and taking action can help you to turn it around and hold yourself more accountable for your actions.

The danger lies in the perception of time and setting priorities. It is how it links to one’s happiness and how you can eliminate non-productive activities and boost your productivity levels. I am still fine-tuning it and still have my off days. But that’s all part of moving forward sustainably.

Progress, not perfection. But adding productive time management to my weekly task list has benefitted my productive outcomes and turned into mental happiness.

Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have 24-hour days | Zig Ziglar

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