The 8-hour life The 8-hour life

Experts recommend dividing your day into 8-hour segments. Is this possible?

Medical Advisor Matty Barragán Carmona – Psychologist, practitioner at Coomeva Private Healthcare

Throughout our days, there are three activities that we should hold in perfect balance: sleep, work and leisure time. For many, this seems like a far flung ideal, but it isn’t impossible and there are ways to achieve it.
For psychologist Matty Barragán, this is about being very efficient with our time and maintaining balance: “Because there are many cycles to life, there are times when, due to our own decisions, we must spend more time on one thing than on another. But this situation should not be permanent, and we must compensate for it afterwards. For example, when we go on vacation, it is normal to have to work a little more in order to have any matters resolved so you can be ready to leave, but the benefit is that we will have plenty of time to rest and have fun.”
Taking advantage to experience each of the activities to the fullest, combining them together and knowing how to compensate for when they get out of balance can help us reach this goal.

Being successful at work
According to Barragán, work can also be a leisure activity if we truly enjoy what we do. “At work, we can enjoy the moments we have to take a break, such as with active breaks. Also, if we have a good relationship with our coworkers, work can become a productive source of fun and leisure time,” she advises.

It is also important to understand that not all work has to involves payment. For example, a retired person can do other activities outside of the office that make him or her feel productive, such as volunteering or being involved in entrepreneurship. “Some retired people have a huge list of activities of everything they want to do, but not have been able to. Others, however, feel like their life is over, feel worthless, and sit on a couch with nothing to do. In order to enjoy each stage of life, it is important to plan for them,” Barragán recommends.

In order to be efficient at work and prevent work activities from taking more time than expected, several strategies can be used. The Pomodoro Technique, for example, helps people to avoid being distracted by technology. This technique suggests concentrating on a task for 25 minutes and then resting for 5 minutes, at which point you can check your cell phone, e-mail or take phone calls. This helps to avoid the inundation of external stimuli that interrupt your flow of thought; as once you stop, it can take a lot of time to get your momentum back. This technique helps you use your brain power to its fullest. You should also take active breaks to get out of your chair or eat something to wake up your body.

It is important to be very aware of each activity we do to avoid any one activity from taking a disproportionate priority in our lives. Our work, for example, can be a way to escape from other situations and it can be used as an excuse to get out of the house or compensate for a need that cannot be satisfied at the time. Overworking, on the other hand, can be a sign of health problems or of an inability to plan your time.

Productive leisure time
Leisure time does not mean you must be inactive. In fact, the purpose of this time is to explore other life-giving activities outside of work such as exercise (necessary to making sure your body is functioning well), cultural activities (to stimulate your brain), and having social life (a vital part of life for everyone).

Barragán recommends scheduling this time as a family so that it can benefit the different aspects of our life. “When someone has a hobby, others can also enjoy it. For example, if your child likes to play soccer, you can go support them and have fun watching. This is a form of leisure time that brings the family together and is a way to improve as a person,” she explains.

There are times in our lives when leisure time can play a very important role. Some experts even predict that our work schedules will be shorter in the future and that we will have more time for ourselves. The secret to taking advantage of this time, is to find activities that we like to do for fun, even if they involve work without pay.

The perfect amount of rest
These last 8 hours are for sleeping; but just because you are sleeping, does not mean your sleep is efficient. It is important to be able to disconnect from your worries of the day or from other interests before lying your head down. If you cannot do this, your thoughts will stay with you as you rest and will prevent you from getting the sleep you should. How often do we dream about work or the scary movie we just watched? Even if we are asleep, these concerns take on another meaning that aren’t beneficial to us.

“Some people do not sleep well either because of an illness or stress, and this can lower the quality of our work and family life. When you have troubles sleeping, sometimes it is best to see a psychologist or psychiatrist to find out how to get back on track. Both professionals can help you discover whether the problem is caused by organic factors or not, and how to manage them,” Barragán recommends.

One interesting exercise you can try before going to sleep is meditating. As this practice requires that we take a moment to focus on our breathing and try to slow the thoughts running around in our head, it can train us to calm our brain activity before we sleep. Another recommendation is to remove any external stimulus from where you sleep, this includes removing your cell phone and television from your bedroom. Using them before you go to bed leaves unnecessary thoughts in your mind that can interfere with your sleep; even those small lights that stay on after we turn off our devices can affect us.

Sleeping well leads to being more productive at work and makes it possible for you to enjoy your leisure time. Likewise, if we take advantage of our free time to engage in activity, when it comes time to go to bed, we are more likely to be ready and willing to do so.

Each of these three activities are therefore a complement to each other. While there is no need to be strict about these time periods, it is important to be aware of how you use them and to live each moment to the fullest.

Having a balance between sleep, work and leisure time helps keep people’s minds and bodies healthy, and keeps people as productive as possible.