I, like many people in this “productivity-at-all-costs” culture, have experience this state many…many times. I tend to want to do a lot…like have a business, work on a PhD, teach yoga, and sleep 8-9 hours a night. And often, ironically, my health takes a back seat.
In fact, I am currently coming out of a space of operating from a deficit. I just turned in my dissertation to my dissertation committee (yay!), but I sacrificed so much to get it done including my health, emotionally and physically. One of the most valuable lessons that I learned during that process was the importance of structure. Setting up daily routines for myself in terms of when I prepare food, when I am active, when I work, when I write, when I spend time with others, etc. Routines are not only for children…adults can benefit from them too!
Routines can help you see how much time you actually have to complete tasks. Time is like money…it’s very easy to over spend. It’s easy to say “Yes, I can do that” or “Yes, I will make it happen” and over-commit yourself to too many activities. And when you over-commit, it becomes even more difficult to stay raw because you have left little time to prepare food and be active.
Routines can also help you accomplish your goals. It is a lot easier to complete a task over time than to binge work. For example, it’s a lot easier for me to spend 1 hour each day to write newsletters for the week, than to wait until the weekend and write for 5-6 hours. Not only is the second option more tiring, I am more inclined to experience stress when thinking about it beforehand. And during the task, I am likely to be less creative and more concerned about just getting it done. Sounds familiar?
When you don’t have a real concept of how much you are doing everyday and how much time you actually have, it’s very easy to over-commit. To get out of this pattern, try this activity!
Choose one day this week and, in preparation for this day, find a journal or notebook. When the day arrives, write down all the tasks you need to accomplish before the day ends. Be sure to do this in the morning. And then as you go through your day, write down how you spent each 15-minute increment. For example:
7:00 – Wrote task goals down in journal
7:15 – Got dressed
7:30 – Got dressed
7:45 – Food prep for the day
8:00 – Food prep for the day
8:15 – Food prep for the day
8:30 – Food prep for the day
8:45 – Reviewed today’s schedule and did email
9:00 – Did email
9:15 – Internet searching
9:30 – Wrote newsletter
and so on…
Yes, it seems like a lot of detail, but it is very important. You only get 24 hours in a day, so each 15-minute interval is valuable.
At the very end of the day, review the list of tasks that you hoped to complete and write down if you actually achieved what you planned. If you did not achieve most of your goals, then you probably are trying to do too much in 1 day. Consider saying “no” more often to others and to yourself!
Now, create a new weekday schedule for yourself based on what you just learned.
Remember, that a schedule doesn’t mean that you need to be inflexible or over-controlling with your time. Meet yourself where you are and in the context you live in. Maybe you only structure your mornings and evenings. Or maybe you integrate unstructured time into your schedule. Be creative so that it works for you.
Enjoy and let me know what you learn!