The cult of busyness: Not for you

The cult of busyness: Not for youTime to take a hard look at where your time and money go.(Photo: Thinkstock)When you get home from a long day’s work, do you open the door to a pile of laundry you meant to fold and put away two days ago? When you get dressed in the morning, do you face overstuffed drawers and a messy closet, and still think you have nothing to wear? Do you constantly buy things, yet the effort makes no difference in how you feel? Time to take a hard look at where your time and money go.First, try to scale back. For the sake of your budget if not your sanity, hold off on buying more stuff until you inventory what you already own. Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, teaches a trick for no-fuss deep cleaning: When deciding whether to keep an item, you ask yourself, “Does this spark joy?” If no, donate or throw out the item. Don’t miss other tips from Kondo’s book, which also asks if you hold onto certain items out of guilt or shame.Among other areas of your life to simplify:To-do lists. If looking at your calendar for the week makes you anxious, you might want to clear a few appointments. You can easily agree to commitments out of guilt or obligation, but you can also freely say no when that buys you back time for the things you’d rather do: relax, pursue a hobby or spend more hours with loved ones.At work, figure out which meetings are essential and which you can skip. Prioritize your assignments to see which can wait. Turn down an additional project if it might set you back in completing more-important work.Talk to your supervisor about what’s on your plate; together you can order your projects.Outside of work, saying no remains a powerful way to simplify, such as when asked to volunteer for something not dear to you or to a social outing far down your list. Make time for the people and things that matter and decline everything else without an ounce of guilt.Finances. Divvying your income between all your accounts can be a lot of work every month – unless you automate the process. Taking just 30 minutes to set up automatic bank transfers will save you a ton of time down the road and make sure you’re saving enough of your income.Decide how much you can allocate toward your savings, investments and retirement. You can arrange for deduction of your 401(k) retirement contributions from your paycheck before you ever see (or can spend) the money; using a similar method, you can contribute to a Roth individual retirement account either in smaller amounts throughout the year or in one lump sum.Also set aside part of your take-home pay in savings. I recommend about 20%. Do the best you can.Automating can keep you from overspending, and how quickly your savings can grow with just a bit of effort will shock you.Your attitude. Stop contributing to the cult of busyness. When someone asks how you’re doing, stop proclaiming how busy you are. Contrary to popular myth, incessant activity doesn’t make you seem so much important in the eyes of others as tired, stressed and difficult to spend time with.Clear your home, schedule and finances of the clutter that doesn’t matter to you. You’ll win back a lot more.MORE: Taking care of yourself, Part 3
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MORE: Money planning in 9 stepsAdviceIQ — @adviceiq on Twitter — is a USA TODAY content partner offering financial news and commentary. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.

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