Time: Prioritization, Productivity, & Getting it All Done
Every year that I get older, I feel as though the days get shorter and shorter, and there is more and more to do. Sometimes it feels as though the clock is working against you, and there is nothing more frustrating than chronically feeling as though there aren’t enough hours in the day. Between work, family, health and fitness, friends, hobbies, and side hustles, how the hell are you supposed to fit it all in?!
This process of assessing productivity and maximizing time-management is so personalized and can be complex, so be patient with yourself! You may try it out and not feel like you didn't do much organizing or really “get” anywhere, but I think you’ll find that at the very least, you’ll have a much better handle on your day-to-day responsibilities, be able to assess and create new goals, and feel more grounded amongst the chaos that life often produces.
During my last two years of college, I was simultaneously a full-time student, full-time division 1 athlete, lifted 6 days/week in addition to my track & field training, worked full-time between two jobs, and *kind of* maintained a social life. Although it was a crazy-busy time, I am so grateful for being given the opportunity to learn how to juggle such a high-volume life. Now that I’m no longer in school, I use those skills that I learned to make the most of my own life, and also help clients maximize their time.
Yes, I feel overwhelmed at times. Yes, I don’t get nearly as much done some days (or weeks) as I’d like. And yes, sometimes I skip workouts and fail to meal-prep. BUT, overall, I achieve what I need to, achieve what I want to, enjoy my life with the people I love doing the things I love, and flourish in the meantime. It’s possible, I promise.
One of the most imperative things to do when working on productivity and time-management, is to look at your lifestyle and day-to-day responsibilities, and be frank with yourself. Are you really being as productive as you could? How well are you utilizing time? Are you doing too much? Are you making excuses? Are your goals realistic? What are you not doing that you want to be doing, and why do you want to be doing it?
Once you’ve mulled these questions over, you can start getting more specific. Find yourself some paper and a pencil, and start making some lists (clearly my favorite way to get organized lol). You will make 4 working lists:
Non-negotiables: List the things that you need to do each day. For example: sleep, eat, go to work, care for your family, feed your pets.
Flexible non-negotiables: List the things that you choose to need to do each day. These are important, but not as important as work, where if you don’t show up you will lose your job. For example: workout, eat nourishing food, spend time with your loved ones, get 8 hours of sleep, drink enough water, do something you enjoy. Some of these also may not need to be done every single day, such as working out, promoting your side-hustle, or watching your favorite show.
Important electives: List the things that you choose to do out of pure desire. You want to do these things, and have good reason, but if you don’t do them it isn’t the end of the world. When listing these things, be mindful to note if they are impacting your life positively. If not, they may not be necessary. Things in this category could be social, extra workouts, going out to eat, getting a massage or your nails done, day trips, activities with family, watching a show (or a few), a hobby you’ve been wanting to try or get back into, something related to wellness, etc.
Unimportant: When filling out these lists, keep an eye out for things you may be doing or prioritizing un-necessarily. Are you committing to social events that you just simply don’t want to be going to? Are you meal-prepping twice a week when you could really get by with just one? Are you working out for an hour and a half when you could really just workout for 45 minutes? Are you involved in a club, organization, or group that you aren’t passionate about anymore? Are you loosing productivity at work and making-up for it at home during “free-time”? Note anything like this here.
This may seem like a lot of work, but in a busy life, it is so important to identify what is and isn’t important to you and living your life, and cut out the un-necessary “clutter” that is further cutting into your time. Once everything is laid out, you can organize and prioritize as necessary. This little bit of organization can be life-changing!
Now that you have your lists, you can make a mock-schedule. There are a few choices here. You can either do a “mock-week”, Monday-Sunday, or do a loosely-planned month. Think of this step as creating your “template”. Nothing is permanent, as life is always changing, so I like to use a notebook with lots of space for new lists and templates, or a dry erase board or calendar. This is where you can really get creative and personalize. Use different colors, note important events and deadlines, write out which days you’d like to do certain things (either once or on a recurring-basis), and look for un-used time.
I find that throughout this process, you can really learn a lot about your habits, your schedule, and your use of each day. Without much work, you will identify things you want to change, things you want to stay the same, and learn a lot about yourself!
Up to this point, you’ve done the bulk of the work. I like to think of this as a “spring cleaning” of your schedule. I do this activity on a monthly basis to re-center myself for the upcoming month. It is a great time to set goals, reflect, change up your routine, re-assess priorities, and de-clutter your mind.
On a daily basis, surprise surprise, I LOVE making flexible to-do lists. This is my very workable version of goal-setting to help stay on track each day and week.
I use little notebooks to set my overall weekly goals, and then make a smaller and more-manageable to-do list each day, that will help me stay on track to achieve those goals. Some days may have the flexibility for getting more done than others, and that’s OK, because I am keeping my overall weekly goals in mind! This is one of my favorite things to do each Sunday to get ready for the week ahead. I never have to panic that I am forgetting something halfway through the week. It is so important for me to feel in-control and grounded, and for me, this little practice helps me to be where I want to be.
Above all else, this process of of prioritization, productivity analysis, and generally getting things done that you want and need to get done, is a key component to wellness. It is especially easy to neglect wellness and self-care when life gets busy. But with just a little strategic planning, goal-setting, and cutting out un-necessary excess, you can achieve your health, fitness, career, family, social, and general life goals!
Want to talk more about anything I mentioned in this post? Feel free to message or shoot me an email - I'd love to hear from you!
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