As professional movers, we know a lot about time management. We help our customers pack efficiently, move efficiently and keep stress — and costs — at a minimum. Time management is great. But just for a minute, consider this: Would we really need to manage our time so tightly if we just had a little more of it?

That’s the idea behind the Simplicity Forum’s Take Back Your Time Day, which is observed each year on October 24. And if you’re feeling like your life is turning into an over-scheduled, under-enjoyed rat race, you might want to take a deep breath and slow down a little bit starting this month.

Where Does the Time Go?

It’s an interesting question. With all the amazing innovations we enjoy — technology that’s designed to make our lives easier, smoother and less stressful — you’d think we’d have more free time than any previous generation. But here in the U.S., the exact opposite is true.

In the face of a roller-coaster economy, companies that cut labor costs by outsourcing work to other countries and a cost of living that just keeps rising, Americans are working longer hours to afford the things we used to take for granted — things like a home, a car or a college education. In fact, we work nearly nine weeks more each year than our counterparts in other parts of the industrialized world.

That’s the reason the Simplicity Forum chose October 24 for Take Back Your Time Day. The nine weeks that follow represent the extra work we’re putting in compared to most workers in Europe, who enjoy shorter work days and work weeks and far more vacation time than we do.

Why is Working So Hard a Problem?

We love our work, and we’re proud to go the extra mile for our customers. We respect the hard work of our neighbors, too. But mandatory overtime, working at home on the weekends and vacation time that isn’t offered or can’t be taken all have a price. What’s the price American families are paying for our productivity?

  • We’re losing family time — especially family meals around the dinner table.
  • We’re neglecting relationships with children, elders and spouses.
  • We’re unable to devote volunteer time to our communities.
  • We’re relying heavily on fast foods, convenience items and disposable products that endanger our health and our environment.

Ways to Take Back Your Time

You can’t give yourself a paid vacation, and you can’t change the cost of living. But there are things you can do to make your life more enjoyable. Instead of managing your time, take a little bit of it back — and spend that time doing the things you love with the people you love. Here are a few suggestions to help you get started:

  • Observe Take Back Your Time Day by leaving work as early as you can — if possible, take a full or half day off.
  • Keep an hour a day that’s completely unscheduled, and use that time for pure enjoyment.
  • Set boundaries for your job and stick to them. Stop checking for work-related emails, phone calls and text messages during meals or family time and over the weekend.
  • Make sure you’re taking a full meal break at work, and eat a healthy meal. Organize employee potlucks to make that break a pleasant social activity.
  • Spend more family time outdoors, and less family time in front of the television.
  • Before you add a new activity to your life, subtract one that’s no longer feeding your soul.
  • Learn to be still, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is to do nothing.

If you’re working more and enjoying life less, feeling burned out and out of balance, give yourself the gift of time starting this month. Your life will be enriched beyond measure!

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