Life's a Balancing Act: My Strategies for Managing My Time
No matter what season of life I'm in I feel like I'm always trying to balance a number of different things. I've always been someone who likes to stay busy and I've always tried to balance all of my different interests while also making sure to take time for myself.
Now, I'm by no means perfect. There are days, even weeks where I feel completely out of balance and like I can't possibly manage my time. That being said, most of the time I'm able to balance a full-time job, launching this blog, and having somewhat of a social life. So, I thought it might be helpful to share some different strategies that work for me!
Using My Planner/Planning System
If you haven't read my post on how I plan out my life, definitely check that out! I can't live without my planner. I tell everyone, if it's not on my planner I will not remember. Even daily tasks or events (like my full-time job) have to be included in my planner/calendar. For me, I need to see everything in one place, that way I know how much I have going on, and where I have time for myself. I'm usually up and out the door by 7am every weekday and I don't usually get home until close to 7 or 8 each night; so I need to know what's going on.
My planning system involves my physical planner and my electronic calendar, and everything is color coded. I like being able to see quickly what I have going on every day and it helps me see how much time I'm spending in one area of my life every day. The key to keeping everything balanced is to make sure I'm spending enough time in each area of my life. That's why it's so important to me to keep everything color coded in every planner/calendar I use.
Another planning strategy I've recently added is keeping a widget on my home screen with my upcoming events. This new iPhone feature allows me to see what's coming up on my calendar without me feeling overwhelmed by all of the other tasks/events of the week.
Keeping My To-Do List Short
I used to keep a to-do list a mile long and I'd be lucky if I could cross off 2 or 3 tasks a day. I'd spend forever trying to figure out what items were the most important on the list and in the process I'd become stressed and unmotivated to accomplish even the smallest tasks.
Recently, I've cut my to-do list down to 6 items and I use the Ivy Lee method to prioritize my tasks. This has been a game-changer for me. It keeps me organized and doesn't overwhelm me. It's a simple method, but I've found it keeps me on track better than anything I've done in the past. Every morning I write down the 6 top things I need to accomplish that day, in order of priority. The key to this method is not moving onto the next task until the previous one is completed. This makes it possible for me to get the highest priority items completed! It also gives me room to add items to my list, if I happen to complete my 6 priority items.
Take Time for Myself Every Day
One of the most important ways for me to remain balanced and productive is to take time for myself. If I spend all day, every day completing to-do list tasks, working and never taking a moment to take a breathe, I find myself getting burned out so quickly. I used to just try and push through the burn out, but trust me that doesn't help at. all.
Once I began my full-time job I realized how important it is to take time for myself. Having a full-time job means I spend all day surrounded by other people and as wonderful as my coworkers are, sometimes by the time I get home I'm done.
So, now I make it a point to spend at least an hour taking time for myself every day. Whether that's sitting in the bathtub with a face mask and a glass of wine or even taking the dog for a walk, taking an hour to do what I want each day really helps keep me balanced. It also helps keep me energized enough for my job and my business!
Self-care doesn't always mean a night of face masks and bubble baths though - sometimes my time to myself is running to the grocery store or running other errands by myself. On my busiest days, my time to myself even means just going to a Pure Barre class in the morning. Whatever it may be, taking time for myself is crucial to keeping my life balanced.
Multitasking In Moderation
Here's the thing, sometimes multitasking is just not the vibe. Seriously, sometimes I can't possibly focus on 2 things at once. But other times it can come in handy. There are a few things that I know I can do at once, so when I can, I like to multitask to be as efficient as possible.
One of the most common ways I multitask is by using my time in the car to my advantage. Most of the phone calls I make are done in my car. I spend a lot of time in the car driving between my house, work and running errands, so why not use this time to make the calls I need to?
Another way I effectively multitask is working on my blog, podcast and business while working on household chores. It's so easy for me to throw a load of laundry in and write a post, plan a podcast or just work on my business while I wait.
I'm all for finding the most efficient uses of my time so if that means I can effectively do multiple things at once then I'm all for it!
Having a Reset Day
This is possibly the most important strategy I have in maintaining balance in my life. I have to take at least a day out of my week to reset from my busy week. Similar to how I need to take an hour a day to myself, I really need to take a full day to reset and get myself ready for the upcoming week.
Most of my reset days do involve a little bit of work, whether it's planning content and brainstorming or finishing up some chores and errands there's usually something I work on during these days, but the difference is I don't force myself to complete any tasks. If I decide half way through a post that I need to take a break, that's what I do.
It's important for me to give myself grace on these reset days because they really help me manage everything going on in my life. Sometimes these days look more like normal, albeit slower, workdays, some days I spend time with friends and family and other days I just lounge around all day.
There you have it, my top strategies to managing my hectic life. Let me know if you try any of these strategies and if you have your own strategies feel free to share them!