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By Eric Barker
December 29, 2014
Barker is the author of Barking Up The Wrong Tree

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:

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:

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

Nostalgia increases a feeling of meaning in life.

3) Optimize the time you have

Don’t worry so much about having more or less time. Think about the best time to do things. Tired? That’s a great time to schedule creative work.

Via Imagine: How Creativity Works:

Are you a morning person? Or a night owl? Don’t fight it. Working when you’re at your best affects performance:

Here is a list of the best time to do many things.

4) You are how you spend your time

How you use your time shapes you. 10,000 hours of challenging yourself in a domain molds you into an expert.

Via Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else:

Too much time in front of a computer hurts people skills:

Your career success can be predicted by how many hours you spent studying in college:

Are you spending your time to become the person you want to be?

5) Big Picture

Sir Ray Avery, entrepreneur and author of Rebel With A Cause, says that making sure your life is on track is as easy as counting your days.

He’s 65. So he’s “got about 5,625 days to live.” Then he just works backward to plan.

And thinking forward isn’t everything. We also look back.

Your brain is not a perfect computer. What you will remember is not the same as what happened.

But 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.

This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree. Join over 145,000 readers and get a free weekly email update here.

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