Does this sound familiar? Make a to-do list the night before, only to find yourself exhausted in the evening and not even 50% of your to-do’s are checked off of your list? On top of that, you didn’t make it to the gym and now you have no clean clothes because laundry did not checked off, either. Before you know it, it is bedtime and your left feeling defeated yet again.
Unfortunately, many individuals substitute much needed sleep with items on their to-do list. While this sounds like a great solution, we need our sleep and studies continue to show that more and more Americans are lacking adequate amount of sleep necessary each night. Lack of sleep can lead to many issues including depression, anxiety and an increase in stress levels. And, of course, we know that these all can lead to an unhealthy lifestyle that includes a lack of exercise and unhealthy eating habits.
So what can we do to gain some control of our time?
First off, determine what is keeping you from effectively using your time. Are you a procrastinator? A “scatterbrain” where you waste time looking for items you’ve lost? By determining which of these (or possibly both) are taking away your valuable time, you can begin to make changes that will lead you towards better time management.
With social media, many find that they become distracted by checking their Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. page to see what is new. This has become such an issue for many that both Google and Apple have developed apps that will turn off your social media for a set amount of time. Actively making the choice to refocus on what you are doing and blocking out items that are keeping you from completing your tasks at hand are key. When you do find yourself wandering in thought, reset and refocus immediately to help get the task completed in a timely matter. If you find that you are a bit of a “scatterbrain”, then becoming organized can be challenging; but it is necessary. Take some time to create files and go through items that you no longer need. While this may seem time-consuming now; it will help add hours to your week!
When it comes to living a healthy lifestyle, many say that they, “just don’t have the time to fit in exercise” or, “don’t have the time to plan healthy meals”. If you were to sit down and look at your calendar for the week, do you feel that you would sincerely not have the time? Here are a couple of tips to help you figure this out.
- Keep track of every single thing you do for two days. Write down how long each task takes you to complete each day. This includes taking a shower, making breakfast, driving to work, mopping the floors, etc. Decide if you are putting your time to its best use. Once you have had some time to reflect on this, decide what is most important to you. Every day, I decide the top 3 things that I must get done. A few months ago I decided that I cannot spend so much time deep cleaning my house; so we hired a housekeeper who comes to do that task for us every other week. It has simplified and opened up a whole new world of time for us. I now have the time to get things done that I was struggling to complete before we hired her. Deciding where you can or need to get help from others will help open up your time for the more important things in your life.
- Set up a calendar. I use my iCalendar for everything. I have color coding for each member of my family and I have a color attached to different aspects of my life (blue= when my husband is traveling, green= work, orange= home items, etc.). When I first meet with my personal training clients, we sit down and complete their calendars together. I have them write or type in their workouts every day for that week. I also have them set aside weekend time for meal prepping for the week. I tell them to treat those slots like a doctors appointment or important work meeting that you cannot miss. I also allow for 30-45 minutes a day of “just in case time”… just in case something comes up that I need to tend to.
A couple of things to keep in mind: Abandon perfection. You are going to have days when you cannot meet the exact times on your calendar. You are going to have days when the workout does not happen. It’s called life. And the sooner we learn to forgive ourselves and move forward the sooner we will see success. Remember to reward yourself when you do complete big tasks. Tell yourself that once you have completed X amount of workouts in 2 weeks you will schedule a massage, for example. And lastly, you hear me say this frequently, but make baby step changes when it comes to time management. Decide which areas are most important to you when implementing something new. Start by doing just one day at a time and then work by the week once you have that down. This avoids the whole, “I failed so I may as well quit” mentality that keeps us from making positive change.
While this may seem daunting, it is not something that needs to be overwhelming. Take those first few steps towards managing your time more effectively and you will find that other areas of your life become more fulfilling!