Updated: Jun 29
You’ve no doubt heard the phrase, usually in relation to ‘time management’, that we all have the same 168 hours in our week and it’s what we do with them that matters.
This is easy to say but not so easy to do. It takes focus and motivation, which can be difficult to harness when you’re frazzled by work and life!
The benefits of spending your time doing things that make you happy are well worth the effort. It’s known that being happy improves your physical and mental health, can reduce pain, and can lead to a longer life.
You can read more about the science and research behind this, here.
Yes, great, you may be thinking – but how do I create time for happiness when I’m really busy with work and life, all those things that must be done? When I’ve barely got time to think?
It's absolutely true that we all have 168 hours in our week. That number can't be changed. You can't borrow from the next week, or from someone else! The number is absolutely fixed. What you can change is the quality of your 168 hours.
So here’s an activity that will help you be more happy in your life. It really helped me when I first did it, and I’ve revisited it a couple of times since.
You’ll need a pen and notebook (or however you prefer to make your notes) and a quiet space to think.
Write down all the things you really enjoy doing. The things that make you smile, that make you feel good about yourself and life. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t done them for ages, if they make you happy, include them.
Note down how you spend your typical week, assigning the total number of hours to each.
At work / commuting / sleeping / shopping / housework / cooking & eating / exercise / driving kids to activities / socialising, etc.
You may be able to assign your time accurately without much thought, or you may wish to track your time over a week to ensure accuracy.
Add up the total hours and subtract them from 168. Note the number of hours you have remaining.
Now review the activities you spend your time doing, against the activities that make you smile.
How many of your 168 hours are you doing things that make you smile. Is it enough? NOTE: If you’re feeling frequently frazzled, chances are it’s not enough.
How many hours of your 168 are unaccounted for? Identify how you can use them to do things that make you happy.
If all 168 hours are accounted for, take time to think about the energy you gain from each activity that’s not essential. How can you do less of those things and replace them with activities that will give you energy, make you smile?
Take this opportunity to make a commitment to yourself.
What will you do? When will you start? How will you ensure you continue to do it?
How can you be more happy in your work?
Here’s a version specifically about how to be more happy in your work, to help you improve your career happiness.
Write down the work activities that you love doing at work – the ones that give you energy and a sense of achievement and purpose.
Note down how you spend your typical week, assigning the total number of hours to each activity*.
*Is this significantly over your contracted hours? If so, are you happy about that?
Subtract the number of hours in Step 2 from the number in Step 1.
What percentage of your time at work do you spend doing work that makes you happy?
If you spend more time doing work that drains you, review your regular work activities.
Which can you remove, either by delegating to someone else who will enjoy doing them, or by just stopping them because they don’t actually add any value?
Note down ways you can do more of the work that makes you happy. What needs to change? Who do you need to speak with? Will job-crafting help you achieve this?
Strengths coaching enables you to understand what energises you, and what drains you of energy. With that insight, it becomes easier to do more of what makes you happy.
Career Clarity programme: If it’s time to make a change in your career but you don’t know what to, this programme will help you. Starting with exploring your strengths, we also look at your values and what matters to you, so you gain real clarity about the right move for you to make.
About Karen Felton
Karen is a career change success coach, enabling people to find work that makes them happy.
She has over 25 years’ experience in HR and Financial Services, leading teams, coaching and mentoring people, developing leaders and enabling people to achieve their career goals. She is passionate about enabling people to be their best selves so they can perform at their best in work and in life.