Personal time pays off.
It pays to take time for yourself.
Many Americans are money-rich, but time-poor – working so hard to get promoted, pay down debt or just pay the bills that they neglect their basic human needs. Indeed, Americans work 25% more than their European counterparts. But this can be a costly mistake. For example, employees who don’t get enough sleep cost the U.S. up to $411 billion a year in lost productivity. And not making time for other pleasures like sex, a home-cooked meal or using vacation days actually makes us worse at our jobs.
Here’s where time poverty – or not having enough hours in a day to spend on our personal and professional well-being – hits us the hardest.
- Eating well. Cooking at home helps your wallet and your waistline, according to a new study, but adults of all education and income levels often resort to fast food because of “time poverty.” This leads to eating more calories and spending more money than adults who cook wholesome meals at home. And healthier diets are linked to lower rates of obesity, diabetes and other health conditions that wreak havoc on job performance.
- Getting a good night’s sleep. One in three adults don’t get enough sleep, according to the CDC, which is linked to health nightmares like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and mental distress. And pooped workers aren’t productive: A 2008 Sleep in America poll found that 29% of exhausted people admitted to falling asleep or being very sleepy at work, and 12% were late to work because they didn’t catch enough Zs.
- Sexual healing. Getting busy between the sheets can get you ahead at work. A recent study found married couples who knocked boots were naturally in a better mood the next day, which made them more engaged and more satisfied with their work. “We make jokes about people having a ‘spring in their step,’ but it turns out this is actually a real thing and we should pay attention to it,” said the study author. Yet Americans are having less sex than they were in the 90s – particularly Millennials.
- Breaking a sweat. Less than half of U.S. adults get the recommended 2 ½ hours of exercise per week. Yet employees who did hit that mark took fewer sick days and were more energetic in the office, according to one study. And workers who spent 30 to 60 minutes of their lunchbreak exercising were 15% more productive and didn’t suffer that 3 p.m. energy crash, per another report. But even just getting up from your desk and walking around the office for 5 minutes every hour can help you feel happier and less lethargic on the job.
- Getting away. A whopping 658 million vacation days didn’t get taken in 2015, according to Project: Time Off, with more than half of working Americans letting those hard-earned days go to waste. Yet taking a well-deserved escape pays off in the long run, as research shows workers come back from break are more productive, healthier and with a stronger workplace morale.
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