Too Much Time

Sometimes help comes from friends. Sometimes it comes from books. This time it came from a book.

Even with all the GOADS (Get Out And Do Stuff) work, with all the dancing and pickleball, I felt myself sliding backwards toward the miasma of lethargy and despondency.

The book that helped?

Happier Hour, by Cassie Holmes.

The page that helped?

Page 5, and more specifically, the chart on that page.

The data is from solid research because Cassie Holmes is a professor and researcher at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, with a Ph.D. from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, and a B.A. in Psychology from Columbia.

The chart in the book is more detailed and more accurate but this one has the gist:

Chart that shows people are happiest with between 2 to 5 discretionary hours each day, and people with more than 5 hours of discretionary time being even less happy than those with less than two hours of discretionary time each day.
© Cassie Holmes, Ph.D.

After leaving full-time work, my friends asked what I liked most about being retired (although I don’t consider myself retired). My answer was always the same: “My time is at my discretion.”

And that’s the problem. I have too much discretionary time. According to Holmes’ research, the sweet spot is two to five discretionary hours each day. Less than that and you’re less happy. But also, more than that and you’re less happy.

GOADS got me out and about, but recently I gave up my two-hours-a-day, five-days-a-week commitment to a writer’s group and that loss of earmarked time pushed me past the sweet spot and into Too Much Discretionary Time.

Yes, it is a problem of privilege, and it’s still a problem. Note that according to Holmes, those who have too much discretionary time are even less happy than those who have too little.

After seeing the chart, I made changes. I must write for two hours a day, Monday through Friday. I must get some sort of exercise for one hour a day, every day. Mediation and yoga, breakfast, exercise, writing, and lunch, have me booked until 2pm.

That leaves the afternoons and evenings.

I look at my calendar every Sunday, to plan for the week, and every evening to confirm the plan for the next day. Now I count discretionary hours. If there are more than five, I schedule in something else.

So far, it’s working well.


Chewing the Cud of Good

Close up of bright red cranberries, cooking

Thankful for Fall traditions.

 

 

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