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5 Secrets to Using Your Time Wisely | TIME

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You can game it so your memories are better than what happened.

And happy memories are one of the secrets to feeling good about your life.

Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Prize winner and author of Thinking, Fast and Slow, has shown that your brain really remembers only two things about an event:

  1. The emotional peak
  2. The end

So how can you game the system with this information and use it to be happier?

Structure events so that the peak is great and the ending is great.

Make sure tomorrow has one thing that will be amazing and that the day ends on a positive note.

Enough time looking forward and enough time looking back the right way leads to a meaningful life with many more great things ahead.

1) Schedule things that make you happy.

You often schedule things that are “important”, but what about the things that make you happy? Activities on your calendar are more likely to be the things you do. So be as good about scheduling the personal as the professional.

From my interview with Stanford happiness researcher Jennifer Aaker:

…people who spend more time on projects that energize them and with people who energize them tend to be happier. However, what is interesting is that there is often a gap between where people say they want to spend their time and how they actually spend their time. For example, if you ask people to list the projects that energize (vs. deplete) them, and what people energize (vs. deplete them), and then monitor how they actually spend their time, you find a large percentage know what projects and people energize them, but do not in fact spend much time on those projects and with those people.

2) Time perception is everything

Your conflicts with time often arise not from legitimate time constraints but how you perceive time.

Ironically, research has shown a good way to feel less busy is to give away some of your time. Spending time on others makes us feel less time-constrained:

Four experiments reveal a counterintuitive solution to the common problem of feeling that one does not have enough time: giving some of it away.

Do you believe “time = money”? Congratulations, you’re making yourself miserable. People who saw time as money had more difficulty enjoying leisure time:

A new study shows people who put a price on their time are more likely to feel impatient when they’re not using it to earn money. And that hurts their ability to derive happiness during leisure activities.

Nostalgia increases a feeling of meaning in life.

“When you’re born, you’re born with 30,000 days. That’s it. The best strategic planning I can give to you is to think about that.”

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