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8 Reasons Why We Never Have Enough Free Time

The first Monday of each month, I dust off a favorite post from the Bennis Inc Blog archives and give you another chance to enjoy the wit and wisdom that’s been shared. Enjoy this month’s treasure – and if it inspires you – be sure to share it with family and friends!


8 Reasons Why We Never Have Enough Free Time

Think of the last time you went a whole day without doing something that could be considered work. Whether this is catching up on emails over the weekend, working ahead on a project after the kids have gone to sleep or spending what should be leisure time overexerting yourself cleaning the house, tending to the garden or sorting out a closet.

If you’re lucky to have recently enjoyed a fully unplugged vacation, you are in the rare minority of people who can actually recall a day in which they have not worked. What’s worse is that most of this “work” is self-imposed when really leisure time would totally be acceptable. We are creatures of habit and work has become a habitual part of our daily routine that gives us comfort and security.

As Americans, our growing addiction to using every ounce of our day doing something productive has greatly impacted the way we view and distribute our free time. We are now wired to always feel like free time is this luxury we can never afford when really it’s surrounding us all the time. We simply cannot break out of our habit of busyness to enjoy it.

After some deep reflection on the way I personally view and use my own free time, I want to share with you 8 reasons why I believe we feel we never have enough free time (even when we do). Take a look…

We quite literally see time as money.

Back in the 18th century, the clock was first used to synchronize labor. Ever since then, our society has grown an increasingly strong correlation between time and money. We are paid by the hour, bill by the hour and even if we’re salaried or paid on a per project basis, we still know approximately how many hours we’re working and how that breaks down into dollars.

In our minds, time is money. This is why we worry more and more about spending, saving and profiting from time.

Busyness is a badge of honor.

Centuries ago, only the wealthy were afforded the luxury of free time. Now we no longer see free time as a luxury, but as a sign that we’re not working to our full potential or that we are not needed. Think of the typical office environment. The people who are deemed dedicated and successful are often the first to arrive in the office and the last one to leave for the day. Sometimes it even becomes of competition over who is willing to skip lunch, forgo bathroom breaks and steer clear of water cooler talk just to appear the busiest.

Our society now sees the busy person as the more valuable person. Clearly they must be more talented and in higher demand if they have nonstop work to do, right? With busyness as the new indicator of success, free time makes us question our self-worth.

The more we feel our time is worth, the stingier we become with how we spend it.

As we continue to link the relationship between time and money, here is one more reason why we never feel like we have enough free time. It’s because we overvalue what our time is worth. We keep moving the target for how much we should earn per hour, always striving for more. Because for many of us, this amount will never be enough, we struggle to find any leisure activity that is worth the opportunity cost of not working (thus not earning money) for this amount of time.

The thought of “wasting time” is causes more anxiety and stress than we realize.

And because we see time as money, it now has a real value to us. Anything that is valuable seems scarcer, therefore we see time as this resource we cannot afford to waste. When we have free time, our habitual minds tell us to use it to do something productive or something that will earn more money.

We feel comfortable and secure when we are spending time working. It’s what we know and what we ultimately crave. If someone were to take away your means to be productive for a day (cell phone, computer, tablet and internet connection), how anxious and stressed would you feel? See how long it takes people to realize the internet isn’t working in a coffee shop and you’ll see this scenario play out before your eyes. You would think the oxygen had been “turned off.”

Choices raise the opportunity cost of leisure time.

There are so many ways we can spend our free time and this often results in the paralyzing inability to spend it at all. We struggle to narrow down our options and stress over the opportunity cost of picking one thing over another. Simply put, we overthink how we spend our free time and then default to the easy and familiar option of work.

We can earn more money, but we can never earn more time.

One of the biggest traps we fall into is deferring our happiness for this mythical moment in the future in which we will finally enjoy the fruits of our labor. The reality is, we will always keep pushing this goal further and further away with the promise that the end result will be even bigger and better if only we work a bit harder for a while longer.

As we work hard to earn more money to one day afford a life of leisure and happiness, we are using up prime hours that could make us very happy right now. The bottom line is that we can earn more money, but we can never earn more time.

Instant gratification breeds impatience.

Yet another reason why we can’t seem to enjoy free time is because technology has us so high strung. We want instant access and gratification for everything we do. Leisure activities become stressful when we feel like we are being inefficient with our time – which is the whole point.

I know I personally feel annoyed or panicked when I try to stream a movie and the internet is slow. I get impatient and usually check emails or answer texts while I wait. Or think about spending a day at an amusement park. Not only does it cost a lot of money, it also requires a lot of time to wait in line, sometimes several hours for a single ride. For these reasons, many would agree that a trip to an amusement park feels anything but leisurely.

We are surrounded by constant reminders that our work is never done.

Even if we dare to take a break and use some of precious time to do something that is unrelated to work, we can never fully escape. Our phones, computers and tablets seem to always be within reach. Our deeply rooted habits tell us we should be refreshing our emails or answering any call that comes in “just in case it’s an emergency” (though it rarely ever is).

One of the biggest reasons why we don’t feel like we have enough free time is because we never actually experience being completely disconnected to the point we couldn’t answer a work email even if we really wanted to. If you haven’t taken a vacation somewhere where internet simply isn’t an option, I urge you to do so this year (think tropical island, secluded cabin, etc). Shutting off your phone and stowing it away for a few days is one of the best things you will ever do to find true relaxation and redefine your self-worth beyond your hourly billing rate.

Do you share in some of these reasons why we never seem to have enough free time? Do you have others to add to the list? Share your thoughts by commenting below!

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How to Maintain Balance When Working from Home (Contribution from freelance writer Jenny Holt)

The following post comes to us from Jenny Holt, who left her HR career behind to pursue freelance writing and to spend more time with her young daughters at home. This article is based upon her own entrepreneurial journey and balancing family and work.


How to Maintain Balance When Working from Home

Portrait of beautiful young woman working in her office.

Maintaining your relationships while working from home can be a little more complicated than others may think. It is often assumed that since you are home all day, you have all the time in the world to socialize with friends or spend quality moments with your family. It is important for you to be firm from the beginning about you needing to actually work to make money, that you cannot be at the disposal of others just because you do not leave your house for work.

Based upon my personal experience with this very scenario, here are four tips for maintaining balance between your personal and professional life when working from home.

Find Worthwhile Opportunities

According to an article in Woman’s Day Magazine about Real Ways to Make Money from Home, there are 61 scams floating around the internet for every one legitimate work-at- home opportunity. If you already have a position with a company and are just taking your work from the office to a telecommuting setting, you do not have to worry about these scams. However, if you are just starting out, it is important to research true possibilities, rather than invest any time or money into fraudulent claims.

Create a Dedicated Work Space

You need a separate workspace in your home to be productive. Though a dining room table or extra dresser may work temporarily, it is hard to organize all of your supplies. Also, if your office is in a communal area of the home, the distractions alone can make for a very unproductive setting. If you cannot have a closed off space, think of a visual hint to let you family know you cannot be disturbed, such as having headphones on, whether they are plugged into anything or not.

Set Office Hours

Set work hours for yourself, as well as others. Though one of the benefits of working from home is flexibility in your schedule, if you allow too much flexibility you will not meet your goals. Do not answer personal phone calls, texts, or messages during your scheduled work times, unless they are true emergencies. Be firm with loved ones that they need to treat this as a real job

Give Yourself Breaks

An article on the Psychology Today website about How to Remain Sane/Productive when working from home talks about the importance of taking the time to recharge and connect with others. Just like you get breaks as an employee, you need to allocate them at home, as well. Work for a preset time, and then, return phone calls to chat, have lunch with your spouse, or have an after school snack with your kids.

The trick to maintaining balance when working for home is to leave work at work, at least in your mind. When the day is done, turn off your desk light and concentrate on your loved ones. This needs to be included in your daily schedule, along with business goals.

Do you work from home? Share your own tips for maintaining balance between personal and professional life!

 
 

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5 Ways to Get the Most Out of a Business Event (Guest Blog by Samantha Thayer)

The following post comes to us from guest blogger, Samantha Thayer. Samantha is an Education and Outreach Specialist at USANA Health Sciences. You can find her on their blog at What’s Up, USANA? or on Twitter @USANA_Samantha!


5 Ways to Get the Most Out of a Business Event

Chances are, at one point in your life, you’ve attended an event that you viewed as an opportunity to network. This could be a work-related event, charity event, community event, or an event catering to a niche that simply interests you.

If you’re new to attending such events, it may be a little overwhelming or hard to know where to begin and what’s acceptable. And even if you’re used to attending business events, these tips are a great reminder to take advantage of everything the event has to offer.

We’ve created an infographic that discusses five ways to get the most out of events and some basic etiquette to keep in mind.

5 Ways to Get the Most Out of a Business Event

  1. Connect with People

If you’re trying to build your network, it’s important to remember to connect with people and exchange information so you can easily follow-up after the event. Something I have found useful is to bring business cards with you to any and all events. Make sure they include your name, e-mail, company and a social platform available for people to find you after the event. If you don’t have a business card, make sure to ask someone else for theirs! Then, be sure and connect with people through social media such as Twitter or LinkedIn soon afterwards.

  1. Act on What You’ve Learned

Presenters at events typically will have actionable information for attendees. Pay close attention to the value those may add to your life and business. Find ways to personalize that information and how to best apply it, in order to improve your business or day to day life. Most importantly, apply it right now. Do it while the information (and inspiration) is fresh in your mind.

  1. Research the Event Beforehand

Research the event you’re planning on attending before you go. Some valuable information you’ll want to note is the keynote speakers, breakout session topics (and which ones you want to go to), available workshops and any additional fees there might be (food, parking, etc).  Find out the size of the event as well so you know how many business cards to bring!

  1. Set Achievable Goals

After listening to speakers at your event, it’s important to apply what you’ve learned to your life. A great way to do this is to set new goals for yourself or your business. Setting realistic, “SMART” goals is a great way to ensure you act on them. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-sensitive. Figure out who is going to do what, where, and by when while setting your goals, and it will be easier to achieve them as well as see what was effective and what wasn’t when looking back at results.

  1. Take Notes and Ask Questions

Finally, take notes on anything that is relevant or inspires you while listening to speakers. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Be an active participant in discussions. It’s a great way to connect with other audience members as well as the speakers.

For more helpful networking advice, be sure to check out the infographic below!

Infographic courtesy of What’s Up, USANA?

Succeed At Your Next Business Event

13568838_10210251683992010_2184923627438616281_oThis article was contributed by Samantha Thayer, Education and Outreach Specialist at USANA Health Sciences. For more information, find her on their blog at What’s Up, USANA? or on Twitter @USANA_Samantha!

 

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8 Reasons Why We Never Have Enough Free Time

8 Reasons Why We Never Have Enough Free Time

Think of the last time you went a whole day without doing something that could be considered work. Whether this is catching up on emails over the weekend, working ahead on a project after the kids have gone to sleep or spending what should be leisure time overexerting yourself cleaning the house, tending to the garden or sorting out a closet.

If you’re lucky to have recently enjoyed a fully unplugged vacation, you are in the rare minority of people who can actually recall a day in which they have not worked. What’s worse is that most of this “work” is self-imposed when really leisure time would totally be acceptable. We are creatures of habit and work has become a habitual part of our daily routine that gives us comfort and security.

As Americans, our growing addiction to using every ounce of our day doing something productive has greatly impacted the way we view and distribute our free time. We are now wired to always feel like free time is this luxury we can never afford when really it’s surrounding us all the time. We simply cannot break out of our habit of busyness to enjoy it.

After some deep reflection on the way I personally view and use my own free time, I want to share with you 8 reasons why I believe we feel we never have enough free time (even when we do). Take a look…

We quite literally see time as money.

Back in the 18th century, the clock was first used to synchronize labor. Ever since then, our society has grown an increasingly strong correlation between time and money. We are paid by the hour, bill by the hour and even if we’re salaried or paid on a per project basis, we still know approximately how many hours we’re working and how that breaks down into dollars.

In our minds, time is money. This is why we worry more and more about spending, saving and profiting from time.

Busyness is a badge of honor.

Centuries ago, only the wealthy were afforded the luxury of free time. Now we no longer see free time as a luxury, but as a sign that we’re not working to our full potential or that we are not needed. Think of the typical office environment. The people who are deemed dedicated and successful are often the first to arrive in the office and the last one to leave for the day. Sometimes it even becomes of competition over who is willing to skip lunch, forgo bathroom breaks and steer clear of water cooler talk just to appear the busiest.

Our society now sees the busy person as the more valuable person. Clearly they must be more talented and in higher demand if they have nonstop work to do, right? With busyness as the new indicator of success, free time makes us question our self-worth.

The more we feel our time is worth, the stingier we become with how we spend it.

As we continue to link the relationship between time and money, here is one more reason why we never feel like we have enough free time. It’s because we overvalue what our time is worth. We keep moving the target for how much we should earn per hour, always striving for more. Because for many of us, this amount will never be enough, we struggle to find any leisure activity that is worth the opportunity cost of not working (thus not earning money) for this amount of time.

The thought of “wasting time” is causes more anxiety and stress than we realize.

And because we see time as money, it now has a real value to us. Anything that is valuable seems scarcer, therefore we see time as this resource we cannot afford to waste. When we have free time, our habitual minds tell us to use it to do something productive or something that will earn more money.

We feel comfortable and secure when we are spending time working. It’s what we know and what we ultimately crave. If someone were to take away your means to be productive for a day (cell phone, computer, tablet and internet connection), how anxious and stressed would you feel? See how long it takes people to realize the internet isn’t working in a coffee shop and you’ll see this scenario play out before your eyes. You would think the oxygen had been “turned off.”

Choices raise the opportunity cost of leisure time.

There are so many ways we can spend our free time and this often results in the paralyzing inability to spend it at all. We struggle to narrow down our options and stress over the opportunity cost of picking one thing over another. Simply put, we overthink how we spend our free time and then default to the easy and familiar option of work.

We can earn more money, but we can never earn more time.

One of the biggest traps we fall into is deferring our happiness for this mythical moment in the future in which we will finally enjoy the fruits of our labor. The reality is, we will always keep pushing this goal further and further away with the promise that the end result will be even bigger and better if only we work a bit harder for a while longer.

As we work hard to earn more money to one day afford a life of leisure and happiness, we are using up prime hours that could make us very happy right now. The bottom line is that we can earn more money, but we can never earn more time.

Instant gratification breeds impatience.

Yet another reason why we can’t seem to enjoy free time is because technology has us so high strung. We want instant access and gratification for everything we do. Leisure activities become stressful when we feel like we are being inefficient with our time – which is the whole point.

I know I personally feel annoyed or panicked when I try to stream a movie and the internet is slow. I get impatient and usually check emails or answer texts while I wait. Or think about spending a day at an amusement park. Not only does it cost a lot of money, it also requires a lot of time to wait in line, sometimes several hours for a single ride. For these reasons, many would agree that a trip to an amusement park feels anything but leisurely.

We are surrounded by constant reminders that our work is never done.

Even if we dare to take a break and use some of precious time to do something that is unrelated to work, we can never fully escape. Our phones, computers and tablets seem to always be within reach. Our deeply rooted habits tell us we should be refreshing our emails or answering any call that comes in “just in case it’s an emergency” (though it rarely ever is).

One of the biggest reasons why we don’t feel like we have enough free time is because we never actually experience being completely disconnected to the point we couldn’t answer a work email even if we really wanted to. If you haven’t taken a vacation somewhere where internet simply isn’t an option, I urge you to do so this year (think tropical island, secluded cabin, etc). Shutting off your phone and stowing it away for a few days is one of the best things you will ever do to find true relaxation and redefine your self-worth beyond your hourly billing rate.

Do you share in some of these reasons why we never seem to have enough free time? Do you have others to add to the list? Share your thoughts by commenting below!

 
8 Comments

Posted by on September 28, 2015 in Business & Success, Time Management

 

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9 Warning Signs That Networking Is Wasting Your Time

bored businessman

Anyone that has gone to enough networking meeting, mixers, socials or luncheons can relate to this topic. There are simply times when you know you are talking to someone who will never be qualified to refer business to you or who won’t even remember your name and what you do more than 5 minutes after you part ways.

But in these same instances, there will be business contacts that will forever change your outlook (and income) with a few simple introductions. So how do you distinguish between the two? Here are 9 warning signs that networking with these particular contacts is simply a waste of time.

  1. They give you their business card before you give them your name

I appreciate people who cut straight to the chase, but being greeted with someone’s business card before I’ve even had a chance to tell them my name is just plain annoying. Before you get to know me or I get to know you, there is no way I trust you and like you enough to buy whatever it is your selling. In fact, I’m quite certain I’ll grab that business card as a ticket out of that conversation and drop it in the trash on the way out. Be wary of these type of networkers as they clearly only have their own interests in mind.

  1. You describe your job and their only response is “Oh.”

Once you tell someone what it is you do for a living, it’s a bad sign if they have absolutely no further response than “Oh.” They don’t have any questions, comments or stories related to this topic? This is a sure indicator that these people are either not into you at all (and unlikely to keep you in mind for future business) or they are terrible conversationalists – neither of which you want to spend any more time around than you absolutely have to. Get out now!

  1. You describe your job and they reference a negative industry stereotype

If someone does give you more of a response to your job description than “Oh,” you still don’t want it to be a negative connotation they have about the work you do (I heard you guys are sleazier than a used car salesmen. Or I bet you’re charging me for this conversation right now, huh?) It’s a hard enough battle to make someone like you from a blank slate, combating a pre-existing stereotype is a whole other war – and one that you are not likely to win in the short amount of time that networking mixers afford.

  1. You describe your job and they totally don’t understand what you do

Another big, red flag is if you’ve given an adequate and elementary description of your job and they still can’t grasp what it is you do for a living. A blank stare, confused face or redundant questions are a sure sign they have no clue as to the value you provide. If you’re struggling to convey this concept to them, you can be certain they won’t be able to accurately tell anyone else what it is you do and hot leads are never going to happen. Cut your losses, fake an important phone call and walk away.

  1. They never even ask you what you do

The last several warning signs were nice enough to assume your networking contact will even bother to ask you what it is you do. Sometimes you don’t get this common courtesy! If they’re rambling on, basking in the attention of explaining their “fulfilling” career of selling erasers, don’t waste any more time waiting around for the obligatory question of, “So what do you do for a living?” It’s likely not coming, nor would they pay attention long enough to understand.

  1. They have a hard time describing what it is they do

If you do end up listening to the ramblings of what they do for a living and realize that you could do a better job explaining to them what their core responsibilities should be, this is a warning sign that they likely won’t be in their position for too much longer. Don’t waste your time…or a business card. Politely scoot away for a drink of water and some better conversation.

  1. They quote you for their services within the first 10 minutes

Whether it’s a networking mixer or a one-on-one meeting, unless you directly ask someone for a proposal for their services, you’re completely correct in feeling shocked when they openly give you a quote for something they deem you “must have done now.” People like to buy, they don’t like to be sold. If this person hasn’t yet grasped this concept – or social awareness – they are not likely to be making too many other quality contacts that could benefit you either.

  1. They are constantly looking around for other people to talk to

Have you ever been talking to someone that you feel is always looking over their shoulder at the people passing by or checking their watch? Yeah, they’re not fully engaged in your conversation. Don’t take it personally; these people may truly think they are being discrete. But do take note and mark their business card diligently with a “never talk to again” or NTA label. Only invest your time in people who are willing to invest some of theirs in you.

  1. They forget or mispronounce your name before the conversation ends

And finally, if by the end of your 1 minute and 30 second conversation they have already forgotten your name, it’s not looking hopeful that they’ll remember to contact you or pass along your information to anyone else who could use your services. I would give an “A” for effort, but even being called “Susan” instead of “Stephanie” is something I simply cannot reward. Come on people! You have a business card in your hands and I’m likely wearing a huge “Hello My Name is…” name tag – double check your resources and call me by the right name!

What are some of the worst experiences you’ve had in networking meetings? Share your stories by commenting below!

 
13 Comments

Posted by on November 24, 2014 in Business & Success

 

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I’m an “I”—Understanding the Inner Workings of an Introvert

One week ago, I would have considered myself an outgoing, social extrovert…but that was before I saw the results of my Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. According to this highly regarded test, I’m quite an introvert. Should this really come as a surprise to me? I mean, I did choose a career in which I work by myself 90% of the time. I hate talking on the phone, often answering voice mails with emails. And I only check-in with my own family about once a week. Yet, there are so many ways to identify someone as an introvert that are far more common and far less socially awkward than what the generalizations would have you believe. We’re not all hermits, we aren’t necessarily shy and we can still be the life of the party. So what really does define an introvert? I can only speak for myself and am by no means a psychologist, but these are some of my own qualities which may help explain why Myers-Briggs calls me an “I.”

I get my energy from being alone. This took me the first 20 years of my life to really identify. I couldn’t figure out why I would go to a party, have a great time, but after so many hours – like the flip of a switch – feel an even greater desire to go home. I’m very much a social person and enjoy interacting with people, but as an introvert, it requires a great deal of my energy. Once this energy is depleted, I want nothing more than to be some place familiar and alone. I need to decompress. Because both my office and my work schedule are flexible, I recharge during the day and appear much like a social extrovert when I’m with family and friends in the evening. The only time I ever really notice my need for downtime is when I don’t get enough. It’s not that I can’t function when this happens, I just might be a little less energetic and a little quieter.

It might be ridiculous to consider a cat a close friend, but with a face like this who could resist?

I have a few, very close friends. In both relationship and proximity, my “closest” friends are Scott and my cat Pinot…compounded by the fact we all live together. Rather than having many broad friendships, I prefer to put my energy into fewer, but deeper ones. Who I’m closest with at any given time may vary, but my number of close friendships remains fairly consistent. One of the most difficult aspects of being an introvert is that I don’t have a need to be around other people. That’s not to say I don’t like people, but I just don’t need to have daily social interaction to thrive. Because of this, I can go weeks, months even years without seeing someone who I consider a really close friend. To me, closeness isn’t dependent upon frequency of seeing each other, but to my friend – especially one who is an extrovert – this may make the relationship feel distant and out of touch. This is something I’m trying to make a better effort to overcome.

When I spend time with someone, I like it to be substantial. Closely linked to my statement above, when I do set aside time to be with someone, I like it to be for several hours, if not more. It’s not in my personality to “drop by just to say hi” or “swing by for a quick drink.” If I’m taking the time to get ready and go somewhere, I want to stay for more than a few minutes. For the longest time, I envied people who could just casually hang-out with friends, watching TV, going shopping, picking up a bite to eat. They made it look easy when everything I pulled together had to be so structured and formal. I now realize that as an introvert, I’m not inclined to casually hang out because for me it’s an energy loss not an energy gain. So when I do spend time with someone I like it to be substantial because it’s not likely to happen as frequently as it does for an extrovert.

I’m more thought-oriented than action-oriented. Another way to put this is that I do most of my living internally or mentally. I thrive in a work environment that’s completely serene – no people, no noise, no artificial light. I’ve been told this is unrealistic and like working in a vacuum. I don’t disagree; it’s just how I work most effectively. I can and have worked in other environments that were quite the opposite. I still accomplished my tasks, but I never felt like I was working as efficiently as I could if I were alone. Another good example of these differences is to ask someone what they like to do on vacation – a time often dedicated to relaxation. An extrovert might enjoy sight-seeing, exploring the social nightlife or taking part in a lot of activities like surfing or jet skiing. For me, a relaxing vacation is a book and the beach with plenty of personal space and no agenda. By the 5th day, sure I’m starting to crave some excitement and that’s the point. When I come back from vacation I’m completely recharged and ready to tackle whatever life has in store.

The bottom-line: My experience of better understanding my own personality through Myers-Briggs has also given me a better understanding of the personalities of those around me. I’m now able to see that many of my frustrations with someone often stems from us not understanding or respecting each others’ personalities and why we can both experience the same situation, but process it differently. You would think I would have understood the “everyone’s different” concept long before last week – and I thought I did – but there’s so much more to it than that.  Rational behavior and right answers are completely subjective to each individual person and how they would handle a situation. The goal should not be to make someone believe your viewpoint, it should be to meet them halfway.

 
14 Comments

Posted by on June 18, 2012 in Life

 

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