We want many things in life. We seek enjoyable company and fulfilling relationships, experiences that enrich our lives, and the freedom to pursue various interests and leisure activities.
But as our lifestyles grow busier than ever, those desires often narrow down to focus on two things: career and family. And for most people, achieving a decent work-life balance is hard enough as it is. Everything else tends to get shelved indefinitely.
You can dream all you want about some far-off day when you can afford to quit working so hard and set aside enough time for things that give you joy. But if you don’t find ways to make space now for things that matter, there’s no guarantee that you can do so the future.
Changing your living space
The home is an accessory to your lifestyle. And this has been emphasized more than ever by the pandemic. Our offices have been transported indoors; families have learned to adjust and draw boundaries. Maintenance activities such as dryer vent cleaning and decluttering now fulfill the dual purpose of improving both work and living conditions.
But where our homes can serve to elevate our lives is in fulfilling the things we are missing. Different leisure options are unavailable to us. Out of concern for the coronavirus, travel has been restricted. Retail stores and restaurants are still figuring out how to resume business in the new normal.
The home isn’t just a refuge or a place where you rest and recharge your batteries. If you make the right improvements, you can turn any room into a multi-functional space. The garage can double as a fitness center. Park the car outside, bring in your choice of equipment, and you can move around as freely as your workout demands.
Other upgrades can help to accommodate your interests. A well-stocked kitchen is more conducive to cooking, which lets you control your nutrition and boost your health. Converting a spare room into a craft studio gives you the space to practice a new hobby. You might not be able to attend workshops in person, but bring in a decent-sized monitor, and you can learn new skills any time you want.
Making more time each day
Through home improvements, you can take a literal approach to make space for things you love. But the facilities are only part of the equation. You also need to work with time.
A busy schedule doesn’t clear out by itself. Time management is a skill we all can learn and choose to exercise. If you’ve been allowed to work from home, for example, you save a lot of time that would otherwise be sunk into the daily commute. But you also have to beware of the tendency for remote workers to actually spend more hours doing the same job.
If something matters to you, make room for it in your schedule. Cut down on idle leisure activities and distractions; find ways to focus and be more efficient at work.
With as little as 30 minutes to spare, you could practice learning a new language or skill. Even a small amount of practice will lead to long-term improvement as long as you’re consistent; this is known as the kaizen principle.
And it doesn’t have to be limited to skills. You can use it to improve relationships. Go beyond the basics of touching base and posting updates on social media. Effective communication and meaningful conversations are something you can work on and get better at if you spend more time on it.
Laying down preparations
Working with the time and opportunities afforded each day can allow you to pursue various forms of self-improvement. And thanks to technology, you can stay in touch and reinforce your connection to the people you love. But what about other things, such as viewing the northern lights or other bucket list activities?
The things you can accomplish on a regular day might be limited. Yet as you devote consistent, daily practice toward these things, you’re actually freeing up time and energy in the future.
For instance, if you’ve chosen to focus on getting better at financial management, then you’ll slowly work your way up towards a position of stability. When the opportunity arises, you can more readily seize it and travel because you have fewer concerns to address.
Time extends into the future, and if you procrastinate now, you’re piling up a debt of future work. But if you put in the effort and develop good habits now, you have greater flexibility down the road. Squeeze as much as you can into each day now, and the path to an uncertain future becomes a little clearer.