What would it be like if your day was an even balance? 8 hours sleep, 8 hours work, 8 hours play. Would you be well-rested, stimulated, and relaxed?
Okay, 8 hours sleep, maybe doable regularly if you don't have a baby, but the rest? Most employers want 8 hours all to themselves and expect you to take your commute and your lunch break out of your play time. Lots of jobs are calibrated such that they're generally only done in 50-60 hours of work a week and that extra comes out of some part of the rest of your day.
And not every waking non-work moment is playtime; somebody's gotta keep the mundane things in life like garbage, laundry, shopping and housework ticking along okay.
So what can you do?
– Do your job in less time. Seriously. Sometimes constraint builds efficiency and you'll also find that prioritizing your work so that you spend most of your time on the most important things – those things your boss and co-workers and customers measure your contribution by – some of that other unimportant junk that used to eat up time turns out not to really be necessary.
– Put your commute to work. By using public transit could you gain some productive time to read, write or plan? By downloading my work email before I leave the house I can open my laptop on my short bus ride and arrive at work already having reviewed it, assigned it to the appropriate category to handle later in the day, written replies to the super-easy-to-answer messages, and then pulled back to a high level to decide what I really should be focused on when I sit down at my desk. Let your slow start to the day happen before you get to your work place.
– Make your lunchtime more personally rewarding or take a shorter lunch. Personally, a lot of days I'd rather take a 20 minute lunch and leave 40 minutes earlier than I might have otherwise.
– Here's the really bold one: live on less money and find a job that only requires you to commit 20-30 hours of your week.
Next up: playing more, playing better, and what to do about chores.