Before the beginning of the month, I sent out a survey to know what you need me to talk about the most when it comes to stress management. The responses are anonymous, but I can share some statistics with you and here are two questions that showed surprising, or maybe not surprising but eye-opening results.
For the question “On a scale of 1 to 10, how stressed do you feel right now?”, the most popular answer was 7, and no one answered 0, 1 or 2. Sad.
And for “What stresses you out the most?” the two winners, with 67% of answers each, were money and having too much to do (it was multi-choice in case you think this is weird math). I’ll have some more statistics next week!
So we’re busy and broke. I have a lot of resources on the blog on money management, so this week we’re talking about time management and what to do to avoid overwhelm.
Prefer video? I’ve got you covered! The video also includes a BONUS tip.
How to decide what goes into your schedule
I am a minimalist and I trained myself to have a light schedule that I enjoy, rather than constantly complaining that I’m too busy. So here’s how I choose how to spend my time and how I organize my to-do list to keep myself productive.
1. Schedule everything
And when I say everything, I really mean everything. Take your calendar and write down what you’re doing at each hour of the day – including lunch, commute and other activities. When everything is scheduled, if you have a new task coming up, you can be realistic about doing it or not. Because if your schedule is already full, you will know that if you want to add something new, something has to come out. Otherwise, there is no space for it in your life.
2. Learn to say no
Imagine how you want to live. How much do you want to work? And how much do you want to travel? How much time do you want to spend doing chores? Write down an example of an ideal day. Things that don’t fit with your goals or life plan, things you don’t like doing, either cut them off completely or have a quota for them.
3. Have a quota for your activities
And what I mean by that is deciding how many times it makes sense to do something – a week, a month or a year. For example, I go out for social activities with friends once per month, I go out to eat with Alin once per month, I go to social activities related to work once per quarter, I go home to Romania once per year and so on. So when I fill the quota, I know that I’ve done my part and shouldn’t feel guilty if I skip the next 2-3 social events I’m invited to.
Want one of my extreme examples? I even applied the quota system to my work. Some time ago, I decided I want to live a simpler life and optimized my lifestyle to afford to work part-time. Five days a week if not an option for me anymore, so I said No last time someone offered me a full-time job and asked for the number of days that fits my goals right now.
Here’s something to think about:
Tips for getting things done
1. Wake up earlier
When you’re up earlier than everyone else who can add tasks to your calendar, you get to deal with your own agenda. Most of my blogging tasks are done before 7 am. My workouts are before 7 am too. Once other people start to wake up, you’ll be getting texts, calls, email, little people asking for breakfast, dogs that need to go out for their toilet time and so on.
2. Timebox it
Give yourself a chunk on your calendar for a certain task. Remove all distractions or plan to do it when you think you won’t have any and get that done. Even if you don’t finish the whole thing, a good 2 hours of focused work will get you far enough.
3. Reduce brain fatigue
I listened to a brilliant podcast episode that said that we shouldn’t be seeking more time, but more brain power. If we could function at full capacity for more hours of the day, we could get more done.
I have two ways to do this.
- Limit decision making, which is a big energy drainer for the brain. Some ideas are meal planning in advance so you won’t go through “what should I have today” at every single meal and having a capsule wardrobe so you won’t spend too much time deciding what to wear.
- Have a notebook with you at all times. Write down stuff instead of trying to remember everything. Unload your ideas and tasks on paper and once or twice a day revisit your notes to see if you need to get something done or add an item to your calendar.
Ok, your turn! Which of these do you struggle with? How do you decide what goes on your calendar? Thinking of implementing any of these tips?
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