How I organise my life – Time management that works

For years my personal time management sucked.  I couldn’t remember appointments, struggled with daily tasks and felt overwhelmed. I procrastinated, I just accepted the negative consequences and lived in a constant state of feeling guilty.  Then I became self employed first time round and there was no-one else to pick up the pieces. I had to do everything. My work day suddenly started at 9:00 and finished at 00:00. I was constantly stresses, everything felt like work and I was even more overwhelmed than before. After five years and one too many head injuries (I get clumsy when I am exhausted) I finally had a breakdown. The business had to close and I needed to take a step back.

Today I am considered a time management expert, I still find that strange. However a huge part of my job is guiding people in how to get the most out of their 24 hours in a way that means they get stuff done and have a balanced, fun life. Learning from my mistakes I have created a simple system of time management that works for me and my clients. It is simple it is fast and it feels good.

So this is how I turned one of the most disorganised stressed out people I knew, myself, into a person who has got their stuff together, gets the most out of their day and even though busy always has time to do what they want to do. This is how I organise my life.

Step 1: Yearly Goal setting

Knowing what I want in life and how I want to grow makes life so much easier. I set goals at the beginning of each year. 8 personal and work goals. I keep it at 8 so that it is manageable and achievable. Now I do this in January for business and in February for personal goals but you can start right now. Once I have made my goals SMART I create action steps, baby progress steps,  for each of the goals I want to achieve. So a goal of I want to take care of my physical health becomes – I want to do 10 mins yoga everyday, I want to eat 50% less Junk food by Christmas etc.

I highly recommend investing some alone time into this process, with a glas or a cup of something you like and good music on in the background this can be an inspiring process.

Step 2: Monthly Goals

I group the important areas of my life into 4 sections. Work, Me, Life, Social. Basically work is obviously for work related tasks, Me is for my own personal development, dreams, or fun stuff I want to do. Life is the other stuff. Doctors appointments, organising holidays, important things that I need to do at the house or in the garden. Social is the social appointments I have that month. Then I fill out the monthly spread below in a notebook that I can close and it sits on my desk.

Some of the monthly goals are set by the calendar, Dad’s birthday, group meetings etc some of the monthly goals come from the yearly goals action steps I have created.

Step 3: Monthly overview

One of the issues I had with time management was my unrealistic expectations of how much time I really had. This monthly overview system works wonders for me. And has the added bonus of me remembering to take self care breaks.

In the form below you simply fill out first the fixed activites you have such as work, training, food shopping. Then fill in the monthly appointments, social events, such as dentist visit or girls night. After that block out a break of at least one evening after tiring social activities or weeks with a lot in them. Lastly put in stuff that you want to get done. Scrapbooking or weeding the garden. Don’t put more that one task into the 2 boxes. The top box is for activities before 17:00 the bottom on is for activities after 17:00. This helps keep the overview and reminds me what is the main focus area for each day.

Step 4: Weekly plan

Instead of creating a weekly todo list I use my monthly goals and monthly overview to plot out my activities for the week. I know exactly when I am writing an article or putting the washing away. It is scheduled not by time but by areas of the day, morning, afternoon and evening. One of the things I am really strict about is making a cut off point of my day. Basically the time where I am not willing to work over AND the time where I am not willing to grown up (ie washing, cleaning, cooking, paying bills, etc). After my break down I insist on at least a full 1 down time. In Fact these days work stops at 17:00, grown upping at 18:30 -19:00, after dinner is down time.

Step 5: Daily plan

Some people love to time block their to do list, personally I love to use the  Todoist app. Basically once I have made a week plan I plot the activities into my app and prioritise them. If you don’t time block I highly recommend prioritising your daily to do list. It helps you be realistic about what you can do in 24 hours and to plan after how much energy you have.


The biggest thing this system has taught me is to accept. Accept what I can do and what I can’t do. IT makes my planning realistic, my stress less and I am a lot happier in my life. Now as you read this you might be thinking doesn’t this take a long time. Honestly I probably use 1 hour per month on this process and considering that the average month has 730,001 hours I think it is time well spent as I not only achieve what needs doing and I  have at least 50 hours a week to invest in myself doing what I want to do. Now who wouldn’t like that?

If you would like more time management tips and hacks check out my time management tips article here!

What time management systems work for you?

Let me know in the comments below

Have a great week <3

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How to create Work / Life balance by taking 5 simple actions

Getting a good work/life balance is one of the eternal questions of all post Yuppie generations in the affluent West. We all want it. We know we all need it. And yet having it is a challenge for most. This weekend my taxi driver was one such hopeful Or rather stressful. Living in a busy city he is in full time education and then works nights and weekends to make the money he needs to live. The poor guy said himself” I am close to burning out” and I could tell that he was close to giving up his education dream. As we talked I asked him about what was it he wanted and how he would like his life to be different. And, because I am that sort of person, I suggested a few strategies that might help him.

Now my driver actually vocalized one of the main issues most people have with achieving a good work/life balance. Our perception. You see my driver told me, “When I do something. I want to do it all in.” So if he wanted train then it had to be full on. Or school. Or work. And this is the major issue people often have with getting things balanced. Simply by aiming for too much all at once.

If you want to really get your life in balance you need to change your perspective and focus on the path to getting there. As I said to my driver. “The goal is not to be in training. The goal is to start”. 10 minutes each day is better than none. Once you have the habit then carve out 5 mins more. Then 5 minutes more. Often it’s not actually that we don’t have enough time it is that we are assuming that we need a lot more time than we really do to do the things we want. And therefore we don’t do them. It feels like an achievable mountain to climb. And honestly becomes an excuse.

So we have this block we need to get past. However if you can be honest with yourself and use (I am sorry to say) a smidgen of realism the way to finding work life balance can be found by taking just 5 simple actions.

Press the STOP button

So if you are also feeling that close to burnout sensation then you have probably spent a lot of time obsessing over the issues and the problems. Well that just makes them even harder to deal with. When that happens imagine you pressing an imaginary big ready STOP button. Put the breaks on. If you concentrate on how hard it is it will be hard. You and only you can pull yourself out of this negative cycle. But when you do it will give you space to think more clearly and thus take the first step to work/life balance, simply because you will have the head space to be able to start addressing the challenge.

Know what you want

So once you have pushed the big stop button it is time to fill your head with new thoughts. Solution thoughts. Take a quite coffee break brainstorm and write out the ways you would like your life to be different. What is it you actually wish you had the time to do? Give yourself an idea of what you would like your balanced life to look like. Here you can dream big. This is the space where you are allowed to describe the mountain of desires you have for your life.
Throw in the realism

The busier your life is and generally the more roles you adopt in your life, Boss, Mum, Volunteer, Team member the less time you have. You have to accept that right now this moment you cannot do it all. You cannot do 3 times a week at the gym for 2 hours at a time, or take that holiday abroad every year when you still have student debts to pay of and you are unemployed is not realistic. Yet. Now I don’t mean to say you can’t have everything you want. I truly believe you can live the life you imagine for yourself. However, part of the fun is the journey. Have a look at what you want and choose 1, 2 or 3 desires to focus upon. Make sure its something your soul really needs and will feel energized from. Remind yourself you are not giving up on the rest just putting them on the back burner for the moment.

Find the first step

So right now you are still looking at the whole mountain. Now you need to work out how you are gonna get there. Look for the first baby step you can take. So for example, if you want to start training again, decide which part of your day you can start to do 10 mins of training a day. Want more you time. Where can you have 15 mins in the week and what exactly will you do in that time? What is the first step you need to take to reduce the never ending to do list. Carve out just a little time each week to take that first baby step. You only have 24 hours a day, you can afford 10- 15 mins. Choose a first step for your desire.

Get going

Now you know what that first step is you have to take it. You have to give this to yourself. If not you can slump back into the woe is me live is so hard hole (sorry to be blunt but that’s the truth). You can either do what you can to solve the issue or you can blame someone else and feel rubbish. What do you choose? Get started on your baby steps and after a period of 4 weeks try and up the time by 5 or 10 mins. The more you carve out the time you need the more of a habit it becomes. It makes the time fly by easier and you not only feel less stressed you will feel empowered by taking charge of your life.

Manage your time

For me the ultimate work/life balance tool, and I suppose step 6, is time management. Managing your time supports you immensely to balance what is important to yourself, create healthy boundaries and maintain both self care and personal growth. There are lots of time management articles on the blog. Try starting here if you want time management tips

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And just remember the most important thing is to not overestimate what you are capable of doing in the time you have. Rather accepting the first steps, carrying them out, creating habits and then upping the bar. Slowly, slowly working your way to wards re balancing your life.

Have a great week <3

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How to Declutter your life – Starting with the art of decluttering your time

In 2010 Francine Jay’s “The Joy of Less” was published and slowly but surely ‘Decluttering’ has become a thing. As Maureen O’Connor said “Decluttering is the new Juice cleanse”. We all love the idea of a minimalist home. A minimalist lifestyle and potential minimal stress the lifestyle promises. However, only a few of us actually manage it.

Personally I am clutter queen. As I sit writing this I am surrounded by a few piles of projects I am working on and I have a bag of donated clothes and belongs to explore on my break. (Kindly donated by someone who is decluttering their own home. There is some irony there). Let’s face it I am a borderline hoarder.

This coming month I have decided to dedicate a month to clearing and decluttering my life. (It’s a part of my happiness project February theme). And I’d like to invite you along for the ride. But before I throw myself into reaching my goals of 50% less stuff, cleansing my diet and clearing my garden. I want to share with you a secret. A secret that I believe is the biggest key to work/life balance and in general a life of minimized stress. The art of decluttering your time

This is one aspect of my life where I am am a master declutterer. My time. For the last 4 years I have become seriously good at not overloading myself and becoming efficient. My work is done and my free time, is mine. No matter how much stuff I have around me, I know what I am doing and when I am doing it. Decluttering my time has given me, well more time. More freedom and funnily enough the ability to accept and let go of things in a way I didn’t think possible. So would you like to know how?

Here is my simple guide to decluttering your time. It takes a little while so don’t expect to have this in the bag overnight. Just keep on going taking baby steps. And eventually you will find that like me you have become the Master of your own time and have time to spare!

Minimize decision stress and create healthy habits

This was the ultimate step for me. There are many mundane things we have to do in a day that take time and energy. Hundreds of decisions about when are we going to wash up, food shop, what am I going to eat, have I remembered to do the washing. I like many of us got so sick of these tasks. I resented them. Procrastinated, which took more of my energy and it all became an unmanageable mess. Until I created a habits schedule. Basically I looked at my skeleton week. And plotted these things in. Empty the dishwasher in the morning. Create a weekly meal plan and then shop one day a week. I minimized the clothes wash down to 3 times a week and allocated a time when I would actually put the clothes away. I also plotted breaks, training and me time in. Now the week doesn’t always run to schedule. However I have this back bone rhythm in my life that I return to as a foundation. It gave me a huge boost of time and things got done. Maybe not in the Disney princess the animals come in and magically clean the house situation. But in a way that I felt as if they had.

So the trick is simple. Look at the mundane tasks you have to do in a week. See how you can dedicate specific times to doing that in your weekly rhythm and then plot them into a weekly schedule. This is my current schedule which you can use as a template for your own.

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You will notice I don’t allocate specific times for jobs just an area of the day to do them such as morning, afternoon and evening. I also don’t fill it with the little five minute jobs like emptying the cat trays or getting the post. This schedule is for the big jobs that take chunks of time. And the bonus if you have kids is that they really respond well to this kind of structure too.

Choose an end of day time

This has been another light bulb in decluttering my time. And a light at the end of the tunnel on the more challenging days. An end of the day time is that point in the day where you are doing nothing you have to do. No house work. No work. No calling people. No just have to send that email. Nothing. I am lucky in that we don’t have kids so my end of day time is earlier than most people with a family. Mine is dinner time. I make the food so Mr T does the dishes. 5 days a week after dinner that is it. I am done. That is my time to indulge in my hobbies, relax, take a long bath, read. It means that I have to plan my work day according to the time I have from getting up to 19:30. And as that end of day time is so damn precious to me I get my stuff done. It reminds me to put myself first. And means I have gotten good at saying ‘well I didn’t get that done today but that’s OK. I will rest tonight and make it the most important thing to do tomorrow’. I have more energy and more freedom. My clients who have kids do this too. Even if it is just an hour before bed, having the end of day time allows you to relax, reboot and be ready for the next day.

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These are the two most important starting bricks for decluttering your time. There are many other time management strategies out there and you can read some of my articles about them here on the blog. These two are special because they focus on your life. And it’s all well and good having things you want to achieve and tasks to do, but if you don’t have your everyday life in order and know when you are taking some rest you are not going to have the energy to do all that stuff.

Take a step to declutter your time this week and join me next week as I embark on my month of February cleanse and find out which area of my life I am going to declutter next – right after I check out that bag of stuff 😉

Have a great week <3

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How to fit fun into your busy life

I have a tendency to turn everything into work. Even the things I love to do. Just like posting on this blog. I love to sit and write to you the great and wider world. I love to spill out my thoughts and have people comment and be inspired by my words. Yet if I don’t write it on my to do list I forget to do it and make it important. The catch 22 is that as soon it’s on my list it becomes work. A chore. Now I know this is partly due to my own attitude to the to-do list but I think it is also that in a day where there are many things to do and have to be done life tends to feel like a chore. There is a distinct lack of fun in a busy every day.

I am not alone in feeling like this. There are many of us out there that have busy lives that without considered thought and a little focus can just feel like funless constant work. That is er…. No fun. (Apologies for lack of vocabulary. It is Monday). So what to do about it? Because at the end of the day the reason your days are busy is that there are so many things that have to be done and you want to do. How to find the balance between that and having fun?

Prioritise

Firstly in order to have more fun, we need to decide that fun is equally as important as work, housework and all the other things we have to do/want to do. If we don’t prioritize fun then we won’t get it.

Attitude change

Now as I said my challenge is that I tend to think of everything as work. And to be fair I have a lot of work. However, it’s as  Thomas Edison said “I never did a day’s work in my life. It was all fun.”  Now that doesn’t mean Mr Edison never worked. He just thought of it as fun. I find the art of thinking something is fun without analysing it difficult. So I have looked at my daily weekly and monthly activities and identified which of these I find fun. Even though its a purely theoretical exercise, it has helped me to see that I do actually have more fun than I thought in my life.

Leave work at work

One of the greatest tricks I have found as an entrepreneur is to leave work at work. I have a signpost on my office door that I turn around for when I am working and when I am done. I have strict office hours and when it is 5 o’clock the day is done. I also do the same thing with household chores if it is not done by 19:00 then it is not getting done that day. The last 3 hours of the day are for fun, however, I need it at that time. Some evenings include no chores (apart from clearing the table). Mentally or even physically leaving your jobs in the jobs time means that you get to fee and experience having more time.

Find ways of making chores fun

Now there are not many people in the world who enjoy household chores (my mother in law is the exception). So a great way to have more fun is to find ways to make boring things fun. A friend once told me that when she scrubs the toilet she scrubs it with love. It always makes me laugh as I do this now. I have an upbeat cleaning music playlist I use to dance around in the house as I clean. Singing whilst driving to work is another great one. Or simply using your commuting time for the game you love on your phone or reading.

Give yourself time for daily fun

Set aside at least 10 minutes to have fun. I like to try and include something fun or silly on my to-do list every day. It helps me keep the fun in my life a priority.

Start your day happy

Starting the day badly can affect every moment of that day.  Make a conscious effort to start the day in a way that makes you feel happy. I use the time to do my gratitude practice and read one chapter of whichever personal development book I am reading at that particular time. It combines two of my favourite activities of writing and reading. Mr T the health nut starts his day with training.

Schedule pleasure

In a 14 day period schedule some pleasure time to do a fun activity that fills at least an hour. You can schedule a free evening if you want just to do something spontaneously fun or you can decide beforehand what would be fun to do.

Create a play box

I love this idea. As a child we have toy boxes so why not have an adult play box. Put in things that are fun activities you like to do. A play box is a go-to resource for those days where you need a fun boost. Another way is making playlists of things you want to watch on youtube or on Netflix.

On a bad day vitto a chore and do something fun

Having a bad day? Then look at your todo list and vitto something not fun for a mood-lifting fun activity. It doesn’t have to take long. 20 mins fun can turn your motivation and mood around so that a rubbish day becomes fantabulous!

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If you feel like you are not having enough fun in your busy life. Choose one of the above and make it important to do in the next 3 days. Actively seeking and having fun will make life more enjoyable not just for you but for the people around. No matter how demotivated you feel, have a go. I promise you that by making yourself have fun, life will start to feel fun once more!

Have fun this week 🙂

 

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Getting your life back on track after Summer

There probably isn’t anyone in the world who doesn’t love the summer holidays. However, if you are like me the end of summer might find you as the late lie in queen, binge-watching Netflix, eating junk and going to bed way later than usual.  It’s no wonder that the thought of the return to normal life and the humdrum rhythm makes me want to hide under the duvet and click the next episode button.

However, all good parties have to come to an end and after a busy summer, I can hear those hum drums calling me back. If you are a regular reader you will know that I LOVE routine.  But for me, those first few weeks back at work after the holidays are always challenging. The rhythm of the every day, so normal and flowing before the break is suddenly exhaustingly hard. It’s tough to focus. And if you, like me, have had such a busy summer that you need a break to get over your holiday, at the end of August I can end up an emotional, unproductive mess. It’s a rhythm I have been stuck in for years.

However, forewarned is forearmed. This year I decided that I am changing the pattern and I have found a way to get my life back on track after Summer. If you need a refocus after the holidays here is a surefire recipe for success that will bring you to the end of August as a productive and perky person!

Don’t beat yourself up:

So you ate 3 tons of ice cream/pizza/carb and drank half the cocktail bar alone on your hols? So what! In the holidays we all have binges be it food, laziness, lie-ins or overspending. I don’t think I have ever met anyone who doesn’t need to play catch up with something after the holidays. And that’s OK. The important thing is to not beat yourself up about it. It was part of summer you – YeY for summer you!  Summer you has nothing to do with after summer you, so don’t beat yourself up for what you did. It’s time to think about what you are going to do.

Reconnect with yourself:

In the summer we have more interactions with other people, family and friends. We have all been having fun, just as we should. However all these experiences and socialising can take you away from yourself. To get back on track you need to reconnect with yourself. You need some time alone to become aware of what you want and need. So as soon as you can schedule in some Ḿe time. Not the Netflix duvet ‘me time’. Productive me time. Both journaling and meditation are a great way to connect with yourself and your energy.  Even a 1-minute meditation will give your body the opportunity to give you feedback on what it needs. Allow yourself to listen to your body.

Prioritise:

You will have less energy for the normal rhythm after summer. It takes a few weeks to get back into it. So you need to prioritise your energy. Chose 3 areas to focus on in the first week.  I came to a big pile of unforeseen financial poop. So that was my immediate priority. The second priority was the big pile of washing, (it is apparently necessary for Mr T to have clean underpants and he does not speak washing machine!) And the last was to get back into using to do lists after 18 days off. Having a limited number of things to focus on in your first weeks back to normality will slowly retrain you into your normal rhythm. Remember this applies to both home and work life. And keep in mind the mantra. ” It’s ok to put things on hold. It is better to focus and do one thing well”

Keep your battery charged up:

Cut out unnecessary social engagements. Plan your Me time. Take care of your personal energy and keeping it charged up. Back to work normally means the alarm clock comes back on. If you keep summer bedtimes and work getting up times you are going to get sick, quickly. Getting back into a reasonable bedtime, eating good food, drinking water are all the small things you can do to take care of you. Remember you are the most important thing in your life if your body doesn’t work nothing else does.

Planning and structure:

The quicker you can get back into normal routines the better. Personally, I love to have schedules and routines  I like to start the day with my me time, training time and eating healthy. I like to have a shower after dinner and prep clothes and work bag the day before. But this is a lot to throw me back into at once. So I have started back by using my weekly schedule. Now I am focusing on rebuilding my morning routine and have given myself 3 simple health goals. That’s enough for me. When it comes to getting back into the routine after summer I recommend going at a snail’s pace and taking baby steps.

Keep on at it:

Getting back on track is actually harder than starting a completely new habit. You will fail and forget. In my first week back I suddenly got ill and had to have 3 days in bed. All I really wanted to do was my morning routine and be productive at work and I couldn’t. When you don’t do the things you set yourself to do it can be easy to give up altogether. Don’t. So you didn’t do your journaling, meditation or the washing. Accept it. And do it as soon as possible.

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The most important part of getting life back on track is the decision to do it. Only you can say I need to do this and only you can do it. I personally find it an empowering (if albeit tiring to start with) process. I wish you luck with getting back on track. And if you feel so inspired write about your journey in the comments below. I love getting inspired by my readers 🙂

Have an amazing week <3
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#lifelessons101 -My Tips and tricks for healthy time management (3 min read)

Time is our most valuable asset. We all feel as though we don’t have enough of it and we all want more. However the fact is that you can’t get more, there are only 24 hours in the day. And everyone on the planet has exactly the same amount of it. Kind of mind-boggling when you of you think of it like that. So how is it some people seem to have bags of time to spare and some people are always playing catch up? The answer is simple. Time management. The theme of this week’s focus has been time management and one Monday I showed you a week by week process of how you can become a master at time managing and give yourself “more time” by planning your time. (Read on here…)

It’s great to find a system to help you with time management. However, managing your time is as much a  mindset as it is a practice. So this week #lifelesson101 is full of tips and tricks I have found that changed my mindset to improve both time usage and time management skills.

Use your surplus time

You might be thinking what surplus time?! We all do in fact have time that we can put to better use it just takes changing your attitude to it and being aware of the opportunities. So have a look at your day. Where are you surplus time blocks? Travelling to work? Eating breakfast? The 45 mins between ending work and picking up the kids. These small points during the day can become great assets if we use them wisely. Breakfast time is a great point to throw in day planning activities, listening to podcasts or checking your email (no answering just checking). Commuting time can be used for ringing people on personal errands or just time to relax in an otherwise busy life. I love how my 2 hours commute became me-time when I live outside of and worked in Copenhagen so much that I actually avoided people I knew on the train to get that time to myself! When your plans go awry and suddenly you have some surplus time ask yourself how can I best use this time?

Energy patterns

You might not be aware of it, however, our physical energy usage has a pattern to it. And being aware of your energy makes for productive time management. For me, Thursdays are the day of the week where I have least energy so I minimize what I need to do on a  Thursday. Over a few weeks make a record in a diary of how you use your time and your energy levels. I recommend using the 1 (lots of energy) to 10 (no energy system). Just pop keywords in your diary and then note your energy down three times a day with a number. After 14 days have a look at your recordings and see if you can see a pattern. Knowing what you can and can’t do on certain days means you won’t plan in a way that pushes you into overwork mode.

Write it down

Whether you do this manually or digitally write your time management plans down. I use a combination of the two. I have a monthly to-do list in a book, a handwritten week schedule and then my favorite to do list app (Todoist) for my daily list. The point is you need to put your plans somewhere so you can free up your brain to focus on doing what you need to do.

Prioritise

Prioritise your time (and please relate it to how much energy you have). I recommend using the ABCDF system which is my own interpretation of Brian Tracey’s  ABCDE Priority system. It works as follows

A= has to be done today

B= can be done tomorrow

C= can be done next week

D= delegate

F= Forget it (this is not necessary right now)

However, I insist that when you use this system that A tasks also include self-care/ family time. We often tend to set work as an A task however you are the most important thing in your life. Without you these things won’t get done.  I use the 2 to 1 ratio. 2 A tasks for others (work/family etc) means one more A task to take care of me.

Do the worst thing first

We all have that big task hanging over us we keep putting off. Just get it done. Seriously nothing will make you feel better, lighter and happier than getting it out of the way. And when it’s done reward yourself by doing something you find fun!

Remember downtime

Take breaks. As I said earlier the commuting time might just be that you get 15  mins a day to read a book or talk with a friend. If you don’t plan and give yourself breaks you won’t have the time to recharge. If you are working on something that takes a lot of concentration take a 5 minute break every 25 minutes to keep yourself at optimal energy level. You can use apps such as Tide to help you remember when and how long for you need to take breaks.

Plan your social life as well as your work life

In a busy lifestyle it is easy to remember to plan work stuff, but it is easy to forget about your social life. How many parents out there schedule their children’s social activities but not their own? Pop social events into your calendar. Remember to include a skype or phone conversation with a friend you haven’t seen for a long time once a month.  Make sure your social activities are planned with breaks in between so you don’t get overloaded, or worse become that person that is always canceling. Buy planning your social life you keep it important.

Get support (remember to delegate or ask for help)

Being able to ask for help and delegate are two of the most important things we all need to learn. You are not a superhero (even though sometimes you are). Let me correct that,  you are not a superhero every day. Superheroes also need help, that’s why they have sidekicks. Delegating some of your load and asking for help when you need it is going to make your life easier and make sure you get more done. Your friends and family want to help and you’d do it for them. So ask.  

Saying yes to something means saying no to something else

As an entrapreneur this is hard to stomach. However, it is important to realise that saying yes to something means saying no to something else. As we said before time is infinite. You have to pick and choose your activities. Being aware of this simple fact will make you very conscious of when to say yes and when to say no. Use your ‘Yes’ wisely.

Remember you can’t do everything

Be kind to yourself. Time management is not about stressing you out or making you feel guilty for not doing things. The best-laid plans can go wrong. Life throws a curveball quite often. And we don’t have the same level of energy every day. So if you don’t manage everything it’s ok. I use the 70% is equal to 100% guideline. If I have done 70% of my days’ tasks I am happy with myself. Less than 30% is not the time to start beating myself up about not doing stuff. Less than 30% is a sign that I need to check in with myself and see if I am ok or not. It’s ok not to be able to do everything and if you aren’t able to do much then take care of yourself and your needs first.

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If you have a time management tip or trick that works for you please share it in the comments below. That way we can help ourselves and each other to make the most of the time we have

Have a great weekend <3  

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Lengthen your day with time management

Finally, the days are getting longer. The sun is shining and our spirits are lifted. However, for some, life still feels like a constant treadmill of never-ending tasks. There is never enough time to do all you need to do let alone, to do want to do. You can relate I’m sure. I have had many clients in the last few weeks who feel this way. They all want to be more productive. To step off the treadmill and feel energized and most of all have time to spare. The impossible dream right? Wrong!

The simple fact is that either the day runs you, or you run your day. If you want to have more time you need to be the boss of your day. And that means a structure, routines, and planning. I can feel some of you out there cringing. The idea of following a structure seems unnatural and constricting. However, I promise you that by consciously structuring your life and building routines you will actually free yourself up and give yourself even more time. Now I can also hear some of you saying I don’t have time to sit down and plan my day, week or month. To you, I say you these few minutes a day will give you more time than you thought possible.

Time management is one of the most common challenges I solve with coaching. And one of the things to keep in mind is that there is no one fix formula that works for everyone. We are all different and therefore we need different systems. Some of us like to keep things regimented, some like more flexibility. Some people have a system but don’t know how to prioritize. Some people just need a regular routine. If you want more time I have a sure-fire strategy that will help you to approach the challenge of lengthening your day and creating more time for yourself in only 6 weeks. And why 6 weeks I hear you ask? Because to make the long-lasting change, you need to make strong foundations. 6 weeks gives you enough time to find out what works for you and how to fit it into your life. Here is the 6-week strategy to get you started.

Lengthen your day 6 week  strategy

Week 1: Create some routines

Have a look at your week. Write it down, What tasks do you have to do every week. How often do you do these things now and how often do you have to do them? If you shop for food every day, could you cut it down to 3 times a week or once a week? Can you do your washing in one day or two? Do you really have to hoover daily or can you do this once a week? Does it take time to decide what to make for dinner? Can you make a food plan or pre-make the weeks food on a Sunday? Make a week scheme for your weekly tasks. Put this somewhere you can see it and try it out. You may find you need to play with it a bit over the next few weeks to make it fit in a natural way but keep going. Routines save so much time. Keep this habit routine for the full 6 weeks.

Week 2: To do lists

Each morning at breakfast make a todo list. (Personally, I find it helpful to make a weekly to-do list just so I have a place to store all the things I have to remember and then I make my daily lists from this). Don’t overbook yourself. 3 to 5 things to start off with is fine. Don’t worry if you don’t get everything done. 70% achieved is perfect anything above that is a bonus. If you only manage one thing then check in with yourself. Do you need a break?

I highly recommend prioritizing your task load. Using a system such as ABCDF (see Step 4) or the Spoons theory (This is a system for people with mental health issues that ANYONE can use, just create your own spoons system). Both are great ways to check in with your time and energy. And use it productively.  

Week 3 and 4:  Try a time management technique

There are lots of great systems to help you manage your time. Choose one of the following and do it for two weeks. People say 14 days is enough time to create a new habit. I say it’s enough time to try out a new habit and see if you like it or not. Review the system you chose. Does it work? Can you tweak it to make it fit your life better? Or does it simply not work for you?

Time blockinghttps://justagirlandherblog.com/how-i-organized-my-whole-life/ (Some of my clients like to block the hours to specific tasks others like to use colors to block out the day and then choose their tasks)

Todist aphttps://en.todoist.com/app?lang=en (I love this app, it has improved my efficiency 100%)

Do it tomorrow – Try Mark Foster’s simple and effective system https://www.time-management-success.com/how-to-improve-time-management.html

Zen to Done– a habit changing, flexible system

https://zenhabits.net/zen-to-done-ztd-the-ultimate-simple-productivity-system/

 

Week 5 to 6: Try another time management technique

So if you have found a way to tweak last weeks system then try out the new version. If it hasn’t worked for you then try a different technique. Don’t forget to review it. By now your routine will be formed and you will have better prioritizing skills. You may find that that is enough for you to have more time. You may find that you really benefit from using a specific system.


Now all you have to do is continue the great habits you have formed in the last few weeks and enjoy the extra time you have on your hands and do something you really want to do. Or alternatively kick back relax and do nothing at all!  Tune in on Friday for this weeks #lifelesson101 with tried and tested tips and tricks for easing into healthy time management and creating the time you want!

Have a great week <3

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#lifelessons101 – Doing only what you can do – 4 steps to realistic prioritising at Christmas

Christmas is coming. The goose is getting fat. The clock is ticking and the kids drive me mad- should be the Christmas rhyme for many of my clients at this time of year. As the Christmas holidays draw near, no matter who you are, or what you are doing there is an area of nervous tension which can, when not kept in check boil over and cause a mental meltdown.  Christmas for adults today, like any other major holiday we spend with family,  is unfortunately synonymous with pressure. We push ourselves before holidays more than at any other time of the year. Probably because we have the accountability of fixed dates. I mean santa is going round the world on the 24th December whether you are ready or not. And when we are under this amount of pressure we go onto turbo boost mode. Unfortunately that means although we get everything done we do it in a way that is bad for us. We prioritise gift paper over mental health, decorations over our wellness and the much needed self care is way down at the bottom of the todo list. No wonder people tend to crash or get ill over the holidays.

However it doesn’t have to be this way.  If you, like many of my clients, are feeling overloaded, worn down by juggling too many balls in the air at once, you need to find a way to get everything done without going insane or burning out then I have a system for you. It’s easy, you can use it at once and it will not only focus you and make you more efficient, it will also be a daily reminder to take care of yourself. I call it the 4 steps to realistic prioritising. To be honest I would highly recommend using this all year round however if you feel like right now all you balls are in the air and you don’t know how you will ever catch them this could be the holiday solution for you.  

Step 1 – Check in with yourself

You are the most important factor in getting things done. If you are not ok you can’t function at your best, which means your tasks will not be done well. Or at least they will be more difficult for you to do.  You need to Re:Root with yourself and know how you are feeling before you can start to think about what you need to do.

Every day after the first 30 mins awake you need to touch base with yourself. To check in mentally or physically with you body and say okay where am I today. A 5 minute body scan is a great way to do this. Bring your awareness into your body. Ask yourself how am I feeling today?

(Here is my favourite 5 minute body scan on youtube)

Step 2 – Define your energy level

Now it’s all well and good saying check in with yourself and see where you energy is at however anyone who knows me well will tell you for me that is too fluffy. I like quantifiable and practical solutions. So in this system we define our energy level on a numerical system between 1 – 10.

1 is so little energy you cannot move out of bed or open your eyes. 10 is basically you being Tigger. Ask yourself what number will I give my energy today? If you are on a 10 then you know you can probably get loads done on a 3 or a 4 maybe you can do 3 things. If you start to check in with yourself using this 1-10 you will quickly begin to get a sense of what you can achieve at which number energy level you are on. I have for an example a client who can do 1 easy household task on days where she is 1-3 1 major task and a household task on 4- 5 and so it goes up. I have another who has 3 goals on 1 days and 8 goals on 7 days. This is really defined by you. The more you do this the more realistic you will become about how you can use the energy you have.

Step 3: Write your to do list

It’s simple write down everything you feel you need to do that day. If we put things on paper it’s less for our brain to remember. So write the list out. Don’t worry if it’s very long we’ll deal with that in step 4.

Step 4 : ABCDF

I first read about the ABCDE method in Brian Tracy’s best seller Eat that Frog. ABCDF is my own personal interpretation of this system and it works well for my clients.  Go through your to do list and classify each task with a letter as follows.

A= Got to do today

B= Can be done tomorrow

C= Can be done next week

D= Delegate (you don’t have to do everything share the load)

F= F**K it off! (You really don’t need to do this right now or this month so put it on the back burner)

Now the important thing here is to make sure that A tasks are both things you have to do AND things that involve self care. On a 1- 4 energy day you really need to do more self care activities because this will help you recharge your batteries for tomorrow.

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Theodore Roosevelt said  “ Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”, you cannot do more than that in life. This system will simply help you check in with yourself and be realistic about what you can and can’t do whilst not overstretching your mental energy. Part of this does mean that you will have to drop some of the things you want to do before the Christmas holidays.  However the benefit of doing this is that you will have a better more relaxing run up to the holidays giving you more energy to enjoy them and get the rest you so richly deserve.  

Have a great weekend and take care of yourself <3

All will be peacefulAll will be bright

#Lifelessons101- Slow down and be more productive this winter (3 min read)

Over the years I have had many different ways of managing my time ranging from the doing stuff every minute of every day and burning out, to getting to here, where I am now with a life structured around when I need to take breaks. I feel pretty balanced in my planning and I get stuff done, which I love. However in the last few weeks some well meaning people have been telling me to slow down some more. This has provoked a strong reaction in me one I didn’t really expect.

At first I went into the but I have been seriously focusing on taking breaks RECOGNISE MY EFFORTS mode. Then swiftly followed by the OF COURSE I AM NOT DOING TOO MUCH and the THERE IS SO MUCH TO DO HOW WILL I DO IT mode. However when I took a step back I realised if this has been said to me by more than 2 people then the universe was trying to communicate with me and I needed to listen. However as any self employed person knows it’s seriously challenging to wind down when there is a lot that you want to get done. So how can you slow down and at the same time be more productive?

Be organic and frugal with your time. No seriously, it’s true. In order to slow down and be effective we have to pay more attention to our bodies and our circumstances and make choices based upon those. In the last week I have been re thinking how to be productive but easier on myself and now here is my guide to help you take more care of you whilst getting stuff done during the hibernation period of the year.

Accept and surrender

First things first you have to accept that your mind, body and soul can’t do everything right now (I know, I hate this part too however it is seriously necessary.) Remember it’s not just you. Winter is a time for slowing down be you a plant or a human. This is hibernation time. One of the reasons I believe we get more stressed in the winter is that we are fighting the natural order of things and instead of slowing down we try to overcompensate and do too much. Nature doesn’t work like that and neither do we, that is the path to burn out. So accept it’s ok to slow down and surrender to this natural rhythm.

Pay attention to your body

Your body always has feedback for you we just have to listen. For a week or two observe your sleep patterns, your energy shifts, when you are focused, when your concentration is wobbling. Now look at the data you have observed and use this in your planning. If you are foggy headed every day between 9am and – 10am this not the time to be writing project proposals or having seriously important meetings. Simultaneously you might find out that on thursdays you are simply exhausted so going on a date that night is not the greatest idea. Plan your working day around your “golden hours” (your most effective time of day), and your need to wind down time. Especially make sure you give yourself breaks or easy days after you have had a social event. Winter makes being social more straining and trying to pack in a lot will end up draining you.

Say no more often

In the winter you don’t want to take on more than you can chew. People always seem to see the yuletide holidays as a down time yet when you think about it with all the prep, all the people, the shopping, the parties it’s not only santas busiest time of the year it’s also ours. Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas the world is getting caught up in that rush. So think carefully about the work you take on. Say no more often than you do in the spring. A great trick is actually to ask yourself “why am I saying yes to this ?” It could simply be you are doing out of habit. Be careful with you “yeses”. It is a way of being more realistic with your time and energy.

Choose your tasks wisely and do them one at a time.

Multi tasking is out in the winter. Our brains are colder and therefore slower. If you are going to be productive you have to choose your tasks with care, prioritise and do them one at time.
I know multitasking is supposed to super effective however in the winter it often ends in two jobs getting done badly and a brain too busy to focus on one thing.

Disconnect

The world is hibernating, our bodies and minds need to hibernate too. Disconnecting from constant bombardment of social media gives us time to go internally and reboot. Try a week where you stay offline (phone, laptop and computer) for 30 mins each day and see how much better you feel.

Watch your sleep and your sun intake

Get sleep and sun. Both give us energy. Keeping your sleep habits in check during the winter is really important for our bodies. If you aren’t getting a full night’s sleep then look at your sleep habits and if you need to cat nap during the day. Equally getting our hit of vitamin d helps all of us feel happier. If you can’t get out in the sun then find a sun lamp or a local sauna that has this function. (And who is going to say no to a sauna in the middle of winter).When we are happy and rested we can be our most productive.

Relish your down time

Down time is precious, even more so in the darker half of the year. Make it special, Light those candles, treat yourself to that facepack or a cuddle on the sofa. Right now I have just given myself one of my favourite luxuries, a choco chai latte, (I even made Mr T one) and life feels so much cosier already!

Plan and implement a slow build up to Christmas that is non stressful

Last year I wrote my guide to planning a non stressful Christmas and in fact this system is so effective I am using it every month now. I won’t explain it here however if you want to not experience yuletide burn out and collapse during your holidays then read my article December without stress
Be kind to yourself

In winter you need to more lenient with yourself than at every other time of the year. So you still have to do list items not done at the end of the week. Sod it. Don’t focus on that focus on all the things you did and plan to get those tasks out of the week next week. And then allow yourself to have a break. Another great way to be kind to yourself is to ask for help. Winter is traditionally a time of community. Why? Well my theory is that we needed to band together to survive the winter, that need is still within us today. Two hands are definitely more powerful than one. So if you are getting overwhelmed reach out for help.

Create rhythm in your week

Create a rhythm to you week in terms of repeating tasks at the same time. Shopping, washing, answering emails or recycling, whatever are your repeating tasks each week create a structure (based on your energy cycle) where you do these things at the same time every week. By doing this and creating a habit of say doing the washing on a friday morning you will eventually use less energy as you do these tasks on auto pilot saving your energy for other things.

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Slowing down does not have to mean you are less effective, it means making smart choices that are right for you. It is something no-one can really tell you how to do because when we take notice we all know our own bodily, career and life needs. Even if you adopt one of these habits you will find that you give yourself a gift of a little more energy this winter and after all we all love presents, right ?

Have a cosy weekend <3

Taking time todo nothing often brings everythinginto perspective

 

Do you want to be effective in your life? Then simplify !

Ever felt like a headless chicken running around in circles getting nowhere?  My life used to just like that. Every minute was filled up,  from the moment I awoke until the minute I went to bed. I did so many things that it used to stress Mr T out just watching me. And det with all the running around, never ending to do lists and the constantly on the go life style I didn’t feel like I really got anywhere. Sure I got things done, a lot actually, however time to relax, to have fun to enjoy life that simply wasn’t there. And if I did get time to relax I didn’t know what to do and felt guilty if I did. It was a vicious circle, an exhausting vicious circle. Do you know the feeling? It’s horrid. For me it actually lowered my self esteem because I never felt like I really got anywhere because there was always more to do.

That however was until I learned to simplify. Now don’t get me wrong I still do my to do lists and my goal setting, it’s just I simply do them with a different attitude.  Through Google- fu and some gentle coaching  I discovered that the way to simplify was made up of the three ‘r’s’ Rest, Repetition and  Rhythm. Honestly these three things have completely simplified my life, given me (and Mr T) peace as well makes my working hours and r and r so much more effective.  I still work hard, just intensively some of the time, not crazily busy all the time.

Now just to clarify when I talk about simplifying my life I am not talking about a form of minimalism. I mean simplification of my everyday life and rituals, my planning combined with the forming of new habits and installing a routine and rhythm to my everyday. And yes I can hear you brain clicking out of ‘I am interested’ to ‘Argh I hate routine’ mode, just wait. I know it all too well, I too have been a routine hater ever since the day they gave me insulin and told me all my meals had to be at the same time everyday. However the routine is more like a fixed rhythm. Just like music some parts of the music repeat and regular intervals and other parts are more fluid. And honestly it is both exhilarating and releasing.

So if you want to be more effective and free up more time simultaneously! Then I highly recommend you read these steps to a simple and effective life and then more importantly go out and try them. After all planning is only half of goal completion, action is the most important part.

Rest

NOw this whole simplification came about in my life thanks to one of my personal coaches. She asked me “when do you take a break during the day?” I was like break??? -hah! I just keep on going, I keep on running until the engine is empty, and then I relax. (Even as I said it I could hear how unhealthy it sounded.) So together with my coach we brainstormed ways I like to relax and discussed how long I  could seriously dedicated to resting each day. We ended upon agreeing that I would read or draw for at least 15 minutes a day (doodling on my phone and computer was not relaxing enough). Then my coach pushed my boundaries and said she wanted this break to be in between my working day and my evening at home. UGH! However after some persuasion I agreed. Now everyday at 5pm my work day ends and I dedicate 30 mins to reading. (Yes 30 mins, at the start I didn’t believe I could do 15 but now I have found 30 mins after work and before making dinner is the optimal time for me to wind down and recharge).

To start your simplification of your life find a time you will rest everyday, workout how you can switch off and dedicate AT LEAST 15 mins to  it. Keep to the same time everyday. (I do this also on weekends as well as work days).  Some people may say okay well I am on public transport at this time or I have the kids so I can’t make me time. Sorry my friend but that is your victim talking. Make time. A bus journey can be made relaxing with a book, or music or even and audio book, making a wind down time everyday for the whole family to get a recharge is a gift to all of you not just yourself.  Be creative and figure out a solution for you. It is after all the minimum of 15 minutes you can give yourself that.

Repetition

Everyday we make thousands of unconscious and conscious decisions.  What to wear, what to eat, who to call, when do we shop. It can get so tiring. The whole time you are making these decisions you are using mental energy which lowers your battery. If you think of it as though your mental energy per day is like your phone battery, each decision lowers the bar. So what if you could save some of that energy instead wasting it on millions of decisions. You can!

I got this idea from Steve Jobs, who wore the same outfit everyday to eliminate the ‘what do I wear ?’ choice from his morning routine. I don’t wear the same outfit everyday, however I have made a repetitive system around the preparing of meals and shopping of food in our house. It started with taking the decision to shop only once a week which eliminated all of those minutes of waiting in line on the way home. Then I decided to make one big batch of food every sunday freeze it down and fill our freezer with ready made home cooked dinners. It worked well, however I noticed that part of my day was often filled with wondering what we were going to eat that evening. So I now make a weekly food plan. I do this before I go shopping. Every day we have the same breakfast and lunches (although in the plan I switch it up a little, sundays were made for brunch right!) and then I plan which evening dinners I will use in that week. It has made thinking about dinner so much easier. I just follow the plan. Now I use only 10 mins a week tops on the ‘what to eat’ question. So much easier and gives me so much more time. The added bonus of this is that when I go food shopping I now save money and time because I know exactly what I need and don’t get distracted. Also that plan is a guideline if we fancy pizza one night then we do get pizza but now it’s fun not stressful.

At home we do this not just with food but with laundry and house cleaning too. A great way to start is to make a list of the decisions you make in your everyday. Try it for a few days, then look at your lists and see where you can simplify? Where can you minimise your decision making? Where can you save your energy? And remember don’t try this a few times and then say oh well that didn’t work. Remember it takes at least 21 days to form a new habit. Stick at it and you will feel the benefit of extra mental energy.

Rhythm

Once you have started to get some rest and repetition into your life the last step in the simplification process is to define your rhythm. If you like me love lists then you will love this. There are 3 steps to building your rhythm.

Step 1: I start every month by making a month list of the things I need to do. This list is under four headings

Life – doctors appointments, mechanic visits etc

Work – er.. that should be self explanatory

Me – the things I want to do for me

Social – social engagements etc

(You can also include a family section).

Step 2: I make my weeks schema from this list. On my skema are areas that are fixed, like the food shopping, laundry (we also have date night).  Then there are areas that are blank when I pencil in tasks from my list. This has been so effective that I now actually have 7 evenings off (not entirely easy when you are self employed). I know what is coming in a week and I don’t have the constant must remember to do x, y and z running around in my brain. All that mental energy freed. Remember yours is particular to you. You create your rhythm with fixed parts and the free movement.

Step 3: Every morning I make a todo list from that days plan on my week schema. Sometimes unexpected things come up and the plan altars a little but it doesn’t matter. using this system I KNOW I have more than enough time to do everything I need and want to do.

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It really is that simple! I have so much more mental energy. Infact I often find myself wondering how did my workload get so light. It didn’t I just simply started to be really effective with my time and efficient with my energy. Have a play with this over the next few weeks and see if you can simplify your life and find a rhythm. I’d love to hear any tips and discoveries you make on your journey here so please write in the comments how this worked for you or visit the Re:Root Facebook page.

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Have a lovely simple and effective week – enjoy your journey <3