Yes, you can buy time.

Photo by  Noah Silliman  on  Unsplash

The New York Times just published an article about how "buying time" (aka outsourcing or delegating) can increase your happiness level. Whether it's ordering take-out on a stressful weeknight or paying someone to clean your house, outsourcing specific tasks in your life can significantly reduce burnout and increase happiness.

So why don't we do it more? The researchers have a hunch: "a Protestant work ethic that values being busy or guilt over paying someone for a task that people could easily do ... 'We want to seem like we have it all together and we might be therefore resistant to spending money on time-saving purchases even when we can afford it.'"

Sound familiar?

In my work, I meet so many people working hard to "do it all". When you are in a state of overwhelm, there is only one thing to do: SIMPLIFY. One of the best tools to help you do this is the 4Ds, pioneered by legendary professional organizer Julie Morgenstern in her book Time Management from the Inside Out. Here’s how it works:

  • Diminish - This one is my favorite! How can you do something faster? Or, what’s the “minimum effective dose?”

  • Don't clean the whole house. Set a timer for 20 minutes and do your best impression of a Tazmanian Devil as you whiz around straightening up and wiping down.

  • Love hosting but don't have the time? Host monthly "come as you are" dinners, where your guests (and you!) might even be in sweatpants and enjoy take-out or grill some food. (Great tip from my fellow KonMari buddy Patty Morrissey.)

  • Defer - Can you do this later?

    • Use apps like ToDo to prioritize your to-dos and move tasks to “next week” with one easy click.

    • Look for open pockets of time on your calendar in the next week and schedule things that are important but not necessarily urgent, like finally making that vet appointment or renewing your passport.

  • Delegate - Can someone else (or someTHING else) do this for you?

    • I LOVE delegating my grocery shopping to Peapod. Every time that happy green truck pulls up and plops my groceries right on my kitchen floor, the joy sparks fly.

    • Get a robot vacuum!

    • On your to-do list, note items that a spouse or partner can do. My husband knows he’s in trouble when I get out the purple Sharpie...

  • Delete - Do you even need to do this at all?

    • Hate sending holiday cards? Don’t send them. That's all.

    • Got an invitation to a party that you don’t want to attend? Send your regrets. That's all.

That’s it! Keep the 4Ds in mind when you are faced with too many tasks and not enough time. They can help you quickly focus on what is the highest priority, so that you have time to spend on what’s truly important.

How might YOU buy more time, and happiness, in your life?