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The Work-Play Tradeoff

playgroundWe recently saw an interesting study on how work affects high school students [pdf]. While the study is about high school students, we think us older “kids” can learn a thing or two from it as well.

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How does work affect homework?

The researchers examined how each hour of paid work affected the way high school students spent the rest of their time. They found that each hour of work reduced homework time by about five minutes, on average.

Sleep less

They cut back more than twice that amount – ten minutes total – on sleep. Maybe young people really are looking at us as role models!

Screen pass

The single biggest activity that they reduced was screen time – the average student spent 24 minutes less for every hour worked. The researchers defined screen time as:

  • watching television and movies
  • using the computer for leisure (except games)
  • surfing the internet
  • participating in chat room discussions

Setting priorities

Previous studies have shown that working only has a small negative effect on an average student’s performance. The researchers in this study conclude that they may have explained part of the reason. It may be that students who work cut back mostly on non-productive activities.

Why do busy people get more done?

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georgeThere’s that old saying, “If you want something done, get a busy person to do it.” I’ve found that on days when I have to get a lot done, I do. On days when there isn’t much on the agenda, I seem to step into a more leisurely pace and often don’t accomplish as much as I want. I do better when I keep a certain amount of stress on myself.

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marylynnI’m with you, George. When I have a lot on the to-do list, I’m more focused and less willing to allow for diversions.

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georgePeople who had juggled work and school were often my best employees. Their grades may have suffered a little, but the skills they learned about managing their time improved their performance in their full-time gig.

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marylynnWhen I think back to my high school days, I had a part-time job. I was a straight “A” student and was involved in several extracurricular activities – band, theater, and the speech team. I don’t know how I did it all! I certainly always had something to do. I was practicing for a competition or a show, doing homework or working. As a result, I can’t tell you much about the hit TV shows in the late 80s.

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georgeBut you know all about the music of that era! You’re a prime example of the students in this research study, Mary-Lynn. You pretty much eliminated unproductive play time. Your play time had a purpose.

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Don’t get too down on down time

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marylynnBut I could have benefited from some play time just for fun. I could have used the time to relax and get in touch with myself.

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georgeI completely understand what you’re saying. I think down time is so important. I often find that’s when I work out a solution to a problem that I’ve had trouble resolving. I may be looking at the screen, but I’m lost in my own thoughts. And it’s a good thing! I’m away from the pressure of the situation and my brain just flows.

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In our down time, we may be more creative than we are in a more structured environment. So it’s good not to underestimate its value.

Work time is good because it helps us stay more focused.

Productive play is good because it helps us expand our capacity.

But be careful that you don’t get so busy that you don’t allow any time for purely play.

How has down time helped you?

You can share that with us by leaving a comment below, calling us at 888.455.BIGG or sending us an e-mail at bigginfo@biggsuccess.com.

Thanks so much for checking in on us today.

Please join us next time when talk about what to do if life on your own terms creates conflict with the people around you.

Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

 

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/0367-040709.mp3

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Are You a Shopoholic?

shopping_mall There is a group that is suffering more than most during these tough economic times. Unfortunately, their agony is not covered much in the major media. They are all around us. Yet we seldom see the turmoil that they are experiencing. They have chosen to largely endure it on their own, not talking about it to anyone.

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Who are we talking about?

Shopoholics!

This economy has really made an impact on this group of people. There are a lot of people who claim to be shopoholics. But most people who call themselves shopoholics probably don’t really have a problem that borders on an obsession.

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georgeOne of my sisters can shop all day long and never buy anything. She just seems to love being in a shopping arena … she’s a gladiator among shoppers!

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marylynnBoy, I’m not one of those people. I like to get in and out. I have an aunt who likes to do all-day shopping ventures. It gives me a headache and makes me dizzy.

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Problems experienced by compulsive buyers

We’ve taken a light-hearted approach so far, but this problem is more serious than we realize. A recent study, conducted jointly by researchers at the University of Richmond and the University of Illinois, found that true shopoholics comprise a larger percentage of the population than is generally assumed.

About nine percent of the participants were found to be “compulsive buyers” according to this study. True shopoholics feel better when they buy things, tend to hide purchases, have more family arguments, and are more likely to have maxed out their credit cards.

Test yourself

Perhaps the most interesting item to come out of this research is the test they used to determine if someone is a shopoholic. The researchers asked participants to rate the degree to which they agreed or disagreed with these six statements.

They used a 7-point scale, which we haven’t seen but can imagine it looked something like this:

1 = Strongly disagree
2 = Disagree
3 = Somewhat disagree
4 = Neutral
5 = Somewhat agree
6 = Agree
7 = Strongly agree

See how you do:

  • My closet has unopened shopping bags in it.

  • Others might consider me a "shopaholic."

  • Much of my life centers around buying things.

  • I buy things I don’t need.

  • I buy things I did not plan to buy.

  • I consider myself an impulse purchaser.

Participants who scored 25 or more were considered compulsive buyers by the researchers. If your score places you in this group, you’re at the first step to overcoming it – you’re aware it is a problem. The next step is to get professional help.

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How ironic

This economy is really crimping the style of “casual” shoppers – people who really like to shop and spend money, but who aren’t really compulsive buyers.

And isn’t it ironic that many of us are being forced to cut back when everything seems to be on sale? From cars to electronics to travel, now is a great time to shop if you have the money.

But of course, that’s the reason these deals exist. People are saving their money at a higher rate now instead of spending it. We’ve learned some valuable lessons in the last few months.

Conspicuous consumption is out; frugality is in. So are we going to hear about “save-a-holics” in the coming years? That remains to be seen.

Well, we better wrap it up for now … it’s time to go shopping!

Thanks for reading our post today. Until next time, here’s to your bigg success!

 

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00331-021609.mp3

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Do You Make Your Friends Happy?

happy_people A recent study of happiness showed that the birds you flock with make a bigg difference. Nicholas Christaskis with the Harvard Medical School and James Fowler from the University of California at San Diego found that the more connections you have with happy people, the more likely you are to be happy.

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It cuts both ways

They likened it to a quilt. If the person in the patch next to you is unhappy, it increases the likelihood that you’ll also be happy by seven percent.

If the person next to you is happy, it increases the odds that you’ll be happy by fifteen percent. It’s interesting to note that we seem to have some resilience to unhappy people since happy people tend to rub off twice as often as unhappy people.

But the good news is that is doesn’t stop there. If the person who knows the person next to you (i.e. the person two patches away) is happy, the probability that you’ll also be happy increases ten percent. So happy people one step removed still increases the odds that you’ll be happy more than that unhappy person next to you!

In a quest to find out how happy we could be once we get to Kevin Bacon’s patch (six patches of separation) on the quilt, the researchers found that if the person three blocks away is happy, your chances of being happy increase six percent.
Happiness is contagious!

4 questions to discover if you spread happiness

To determine if someone was happy, the researchers asked four questions. During the past week, how often …

  1. Did you enjoy life?
  2. Were you happy?
  3. Did you feel hopeful about the future?
  4. Did you feel that you were just as good as other people?

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marylynnI feel blessed because I have positive responses to each and every one of these questions. I guess I’m a happy person.

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georgeI think I’m a happy person as well. In fact, if I remember right, I was voted the “Happiest” person in high school! But when I look closely at these questions, it makes me think. Like the first question … I enjoy my life, but how often do I stop and recognize it?

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This study was released recently, but imagine how you might have responded if you were asked the third question at the height of the financial crisis. Uncertainty creates fear, but as these questions show, it’s important to remain optimistic in any environment. That’s where happy people come in – they’ll help you have a brighter outlook no matter what the situation!

There’s one more benefit to hanging out with happy people. The researchers reference a study done in 1984 that showed that having an extra $5,000 increased a person's chances of being happy by about two percent. Based on those results and the results of this study, the researchers conclude that a happy friend is worth $20,000!

They say a happy friend is worth $20,000. We’ll borrow from MasterCard – we think having a happy friend is … priceless!

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We really appreciate you checking in with us today. Join us next time when we discuss the three categories of spending. Keeping them in mind will keep your budget in line! Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

 

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00285-121208.mp3

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Who is More Accident Prone – Men or Women?

accident Statistics Canada, Canada’s national statistics agency, released a report on work injuries a while back. There were a few things we found interesting. While four percent of all workers experienced some sort of work place injury over the past year, only two percent of the women had. So guys got hurt disproportionately to gals.

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You might hypothesize that perhaps men perform riskier tasks, on average, than women. However, the research showed that men have a higher rate of injury across all job categories.

Can women work harder?

Another point of interest was that, compared to men working less than 35 hours a week, men who work eighty hours a week or more were twice as likely to get injured. Men were forty percent more likely to get hurt if they worked between 45 and 79 hours.

It makes sense, doesn’t it? The more someone works, the more tired they are and the more likely they are to harm themselves somehow. Sounds good, except that it didn’t hold true for women. There was no noticeable difference among women based on the number of hours worked.

Women who worked more than one job experienced more injuries than women who only had one job. There was no difference for men. Finally, we found one in the men’s favor!

Why do we work so much?

Seriously, though, we see that whether we look at hours worked or number of jobs, there is evidence to show that chance of harm increases.

So we wonder: Why do we work so many hours? Why do we need more than one job? In many cases, it’s because of money issues. Might we be better off looking at our budget? Would we better served by adjusting our lifestyles? Then we might not have to work so much and we might not get hurt as much.

More hours. More jobs. Still a lack of money. No extra time. More stress. All of these come into play together.

Speaking of play

Here’s another thing we found very interesting in this report. Only 28% of all “activity-limiting injuries” occurred at work. Now think about that. We spend about half of our waking hours at work, if not more. Yet nearly three-fourths of the accidents that keep us from working happen in our personal lives. What in the world are we doing at home?

The study says that most accidents that occur at work are hand injuries and lower back strain. We don’t know what the accidents are away from work. Are we straining ourselves too much at home?

Maybe instead of a “honey do” list, we should start a “honey don’t” list!

Check in next time as we discuss how your estimates of future costs should affect your current decisions. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00265-111408.mp3