Summer has arrived. And, although the lazy days I remember as a kid are now far behind me, I still try to find some time in my busy schedule to relax and enjoy myself everyday. Having that "me time" is vital to our health as people, and as individuals. We need time to decompress, clear our head, and recharge for the next day. We need that time to just be with ourselves and shut out the rest of the world - even if it is only for 5 minutes. Are you reading this and thinking, "How? I don't even have enough time to do all things I have to do in a 24 hour period!" The answer my friends: Time Management. I am a procrastinator. I could probably win an award for procrastination if there was such a thing. That is probably the one trait I like least about myself. It really stresses me out when I do it, yet, I still struggle. I will put things off and then have a pile of things to do. Then I feel rushed. Then I am irritable. Then no one is happy. Seems pretty silly, right? Like you, I have a lot going on so sometimes it feels good to push things off for later so I can have a break now. I am getting out of the Army after 6 years of service, I own my own business as an Image Consultant, I am a nutrition/wellness coach, I am in school, I have a family and home responsibilities...the list goes on. I am sure, much like your own. So, in an effort to combat that bad trait, I have been focusing more on managing my time better. And you know what? It is working! I wanted to write this post to include some tips that have helped me get better, have more time, feel more relaxed, be more productive, and he happier overall because I know that I am on top of my responsibilities. So, here they are:
- Keep a day planner - This might seem like a no-brainer but, for me, this has made the biggest difference. I carry it with me everywhere and am able to refer to it throughout the day when I need to schedule new things or am approached about my availability. It works great because I don't overbook myself and it helps me stay realistic and say no when I need to. Win/Win!
- Prioritize - If you have a lot going on in one day, pick the 5 most important things, rate them from most to least important (1 - 5) and be sure to do them in that order. If you have less than 5, then great! If not, then see if other tasks can be shuffled to less busy days in your schedule. I find that when I prioritize, I am able to knock out the bigger tasks with ease because I am not trying to cram them in at the end of my day when I am already tired or not in the mood to do it. This works great for exercise on busy days. Do the things that are most important to you and you will be a lot happier (and productive)!
- Prepare - Set aside a few minutes once a week to look at what you have coming up for that week. Typically, I like to do this on Sunday afternoon. It gets me in the right headspace, especially if I am going to be particularly busy. I can give my husband the courtesy of knowing I will be home late on Thursday, so his dinner is his responsibility; or I can let him know that Saturday is open for me, so that would be the perfect time to go check out that new movie we talked about wanting to see. Preparation keeps life from just happening to you; it gives you the upper hand and allows you to control your time better. Life still happens, of course but being prepared allows flexibility.
- Leave room for "ME TIME" - Don't overload your plate. Say no if it interferes with you getting time for yourself. This might sound selfish, but, it isn't. It is necessary. If you are not taking care of you, putting you first, then you aren't really functioning at 100%. How is that helping anyone else? Right! It isn't! So, do yourself a favor: Schedule "Me Time". Every day. If you have to make it one of your priorities, then do it. You will be so much better off. It doesn't have to be complex. It could be getting up 10 minutes earlier to enjoy your coffee in peace before the rest of the house wakes up, it could be taking a 20 minute walk after dinner (extra bonus points!), or even just sitting quietly with your thoughts for a few minutes before heading into the office. If you aren't already taking any time for you, start small. I guarantee you, after a while, you will find a way to carve out a little more!