Have you ever felt like you’re being pulled into a thousand tiny pieces by life? The dogs need a bath, someone needs to take out that two week old trash, mow the lawn, take the kids to practice, finish the dishes, do the laundry, and the next day it starts all over again!
If you haven’t had these experiences there’s a good chance that you’re either super rich, or I need to install higher grade anti-spamware to keep the robots out. One way or the other, I’m here to lend some personal and professional advice to keep yourself on track while building towards the life you want to live.
Let’s get started!
First, Focus Your Energy
So you’re busy, like too busy to remember when you last ate, or where you left your keys and now you’re late for work and the whole day snowballs out of control very quickly.
The first thing to do is to take the following into consideration when making decisions. Take a quick moment to think about, and then write out the list in order from most important to least important, this will clear up some of the smog for creating your most effective schedule:
- Downtime (Reading, TV, Internet, Games)
- Home Maintenance (Trash, Laundry, Dishes, etc.)
Some of these will naturally rank higher than others, children and pets need constant attention, and depending on your religious/spiritual convictions it may seem pertinent to place them highly on the list. Keep in mind that this is only a rough draft and you can make changes to it as you grow and change yourself.
Keep these in mind or the paper you wrote handy in the next couple of steps!
Loafer Vs. Workaholic – Finding Balance
It’s easy to let things slip away when you are constantly rushing to finish the next chore in your list, and from my own personal accord, I can tell you that people fall into one of two categories, the loafer, and the workaholic. Here’s what you need to know before I move on:
1. Loafer: These are your typical procrastinators, the kind that will always “get to it tomorrow”, and believe it or not that mentality can be useful when tempered with some old fashioned diligence. If you fall into this category you might have made it here only because you were trying to forget about the other things you have to work on, which is possibly the best mistake you’ve ever made, so welcome.
2. Workaholic: On the COMPLETE opposite end of this spectrum are the workaholics, you know, the guy who has three jobs, drives a fantastic car, lives in a cardboard box, and hasn’t seen home for at least two weeks due to sleeping in the parking lot of his workplace. You might think this guy has it all, that this is the ideal for getting bread and making yourself into a success, but just like the loafer, too much of anything is bad.
The key to living an effective life is to find balance between your inner loafer devil and the workaholic angel on your shoulders, which can be very difficult if you’re too far to one side or the other.
Basically, you want to work on projects as long as you are being effective with your time, which means being at full capacity. To do this, take a few minutes to look over this checklist of self-maintenance to make sure that you have everything you need to function properly:
- Sleep: This is a big one, and in certain circumstances can be the biggest threat to your mental AND physical health, along with your ability to achieve greatness. There is a lot of talk about “hustle” in success communities nowadays and the honest truth is that there’s no sense in losing sleep just to run yourself into the ground. In worst cases, sleep deprivation will reduce your awareness, comprehension, learning and motor skills, which by the way are everything you need to obtain the excellence you deserve!
- Nutrition: Eating anything is better than eating nothing, but knowing what your body needs and being able to incorporate that into your lifestyle will let you get out of bed every morning ready to do what you need to. This includes drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
- Peace of Mind: Potentially the most important way to keep yourself on track is by keeping your mind clear and ready. Meditation is a great way to relax yourself and give you the perspective needed to change your thinking.
By making these into habits, you will spend less time working on them and still reap the benefits of their effects. Starting out it will be an investment but with time it will pay itself in dividends when you take less effort each day to finish simple chores, allowing greater effort to be placed towards your long-term goals.
The Right Way to Schedule:
There are three major schools of thought when it comes to scheduling:
- Chunking: This is the method that most spreadsheet maniacs will end up using. The soccer mom itinerary with minute-by-minute breakdowns of everything where the kids should be in the bathroom by 7:32 A.M. to be read for breakfast by 8:01 A.M. This is a good way to create a rough draft of everything that needs to be done in a day, but should be reserved for time sensitive tasks that have extremely strict limitations, such as a business meeting.
- Long-Term: Creating long-term goals with set-yet-flexible goals is a good way to keep yourself from going off the rails just because Timmy didn’t make it to breakfast until 8:02, but it falters when dealing with time-sensitive tasks and can make it easy to delay projects that would otherwise improve your life.
- Median Scheduling: This is the half-way point between chunking and Long-term planning, and is the style I have personally adopted. Every week I write out a list of non-time-sensitive tasks that need to be completed at some point within that week, and then fill the gaps around the fixed, time-sensitive tasks that MUST be completed at a certain day/time of the week, giving me the freedom to move things around if other more important things come up, such as making time for friends and family. The weekly schedule is only half of the equation. Outside of that week I am aligning my tasks with improving my life and moving myself closer to the success that I desire, which mostly involves education and deepening relationships with friends and family.
This is just a rough draft of my scheduling efforts, so be sure to tell me how you would write out your schedule down in the comments, and tell me what you think of the three types of time management I’ve mentioned here!
Never Forget To Take a BREAK!!!
It will always sound counter intuitive, but making the most of a few relatively short breaks, about 20 minutes each, can give you time to regain your strength and will while giving you the opportunity to step back from the problems you have long enough to find a better solution.
I typically wake up early to get a pre-work break in, something like an hour just to relax, eat, read, or work out before I have to start my day. This gives me the start I need to keep the ball rolling as I keep on task, usually once I’m done with work I take another 30 minutes for dinner, sometimes more if I decide that I need something other than reheated leftovers. And on days off from my day job I will take around 20 minutes ever hour or two just to read, listen to music, or get some fresh air.
This will vary from person to person as everyone has varied levels of busyness and some can find time to rest more often than others, but those 20 minutes you take to figure out how to get things done will potentially save you hours of fumbling around your house or office with too much to do.
If you’ve got a particularly busy schedule tell me about it in the comments and I’ll help you find that extra 20 minutes a day to relax, trust me, its worth the effort!
I hope you’ve learned a bit about keeping things on track, this is mostly just to bring a few future topics into focus for recurring readers, and I would love for you to become one of them. I’m going to dive into the best ways to relax and more effective methods of scheduling, so be sure to stick around.
Thanks for reading, and if you have any of your own tips and tricks for making life a bit easier, let others know by tossing them down in the comments!