Effective time management, including the maintenance of a healthy work-life balance, is critical these days!
Amidst the daily demands of career, family life, trying to remain physically active to some degree, adequate sleep, time for self-care, dodging cold and flu season and nourishing your body with health-promoting foods, daily life (and attempting to remain balanced) feels like a daunting task!
So, today I share with you my top 5 tips for effective time management, when it comes to setting your weekly intentions AND FOLLOWING THROUGH!
I sincerely feel like the ability to manage my time effectively was instilled in me at a young age. With a busy childhood of intensive dance and music training beyond the hours of the school day, the desire to be involved in extra-curricular activities that demanded such consistent time and effort propelled to me work hard to “make it all work”!
This skill has certainly carried into my adult life; I attribute it to my career success and continued personal development, whether it be operating an inviting, enjoyable and productive elementary school classroom environment, growing my reading repertoire, mastering some new recipes, or now balancing multiple projects simultaneously as a nutrition practitioner and educator.
Setting my intentions for each coming week allows me to achieve the short and long-term goals I set for myself monthly and on an annual basis, as well. In my mind, daily, positive and effective habits strongly shape behavior and pave the way for long-term goal achievement . I find it much more realistic and feasible to implement and manage the small, daily steps to those goals; consistency, motivation and passion to achieve them will get you there! Setting my intentions in a strategic way has always been something I’ve enjoyed, due to the reward of seeing such intentions through and experiencing movement in the desired direction!
1. WRITE DOWN your intentions for the week.
For me, having a weekly template (as pictured above - $1.50 at Dollarama!), kickstarts the process and makes it more fun! Whether it’s a calendar on your fridge, a desktop calendar, or an organizer on your computer, use what works for you!
I prefer a concrete tool - that of a notepad organizer, as it allows me to put it in my purse/shoulder bag or laptop bag and take it with me, when needed.
Writing down your intentions will certainly increase the likelihood of following through! Concrete evidence of your thoughts and plans will serve as a daily reminder of your hopes and desires for your life and loved ones.
2. Set your intentions for the coming week 3-4 DAYS PRIOR.
On Thursday evenings, I more closely being to think about the weekend and coming week ahead. For me, the best way to ensure productivity and success for the coming week is to maximize the weekend just prior!
On Thursday evenings, I consider those events/tasks that are scheduled and/or require time spent on them (all aspects of day-to-day life).
From there, I identify any materials/supplies I need to pick up over the weekend, in order to not spend valuable time running around during the week (or last minute!), when it becomes more difficult to find the time to do so.
I aim to pick up everything I need on Friday, if possible, so I’m set for both the weekend and the week ahead.
If you have children, depending on their age, get them involved in the organizational process! In working in classrooms for so long, it is no secret that children thrive on structure, organization and knowing what to expect, with those aspects of day-to-day life that are within our means of regulating. Such modelled and demonstrated behaviours are powerful learning tolls.
3. PRIORITIZE your weekly intentions, and be prepared to REVISE YOUR PLANS as the week unfolds!
I consider the amount of time it takes to accomplish the various tasks for the week ahead, whether it be grocery shopping, batch cooking, pulling content together for a client project, time with family/friends, house cleaning, miscellaneous errands, etc. I consider the "deadlines" for these tasks, whether they are work-related, set deadlines or personal tasks that I establish my own deadlines for.
I schedule in time required for the largest, most challenging and/or most time-consuming tasks FIRST, always working backwards to estimate how much time (over how many days) will be required. Knowing myself all too well, I also give myself an extra day or two, if possible, as cushion, though time does not always allow!
For deadlines beyond one week away, start working time for those deadlines into the coming week if that suits you best, so that you're less likely to lose track of time or underestimate how much time you really have!
From there, I schedule in the easier, less challenging and/or less time-consuming tasks, a couple of days, the day before or the day they need to be accomplished. These are always secondary to those bigger tasks that are inevitably more challenging to buckle down and sit down and DO! (You know, those ones that we procrastinate about the most!)
I also consider those quick, easily-accomplished tasks that can be worked into the work day during a few spare minutes here or there, such as responding to a few emails, making a phone call or paying a bill. If it means being up 15-30 minutes earlier in the morning to do so, I can leave the house for the day already feeling like my day has started off on the right foot!
*Schedule in your exercise or self-care time as if they were more formal appointments, like a doctor's appointment. These are the aspects of our day-to-day that often become neglected the most, as they are the first items to disappear from our day when other responsibilities that can wait, can truly wait (i.e. those responsibilities unaffected by being pushed back a day). Work-life balance demands that these items be prioritized just the same.
4. RE-EVALUATE your intentions daily.
It took me awhile to get to the point where, when juggling many responsibilities simultaneously, that what is going to get done is what is going to get done! Be pleased with and proud of that!
When I say Re-Evaluate daily, consider what has been accomplished during the course of that day and look ahead to what you have planned for the next day. As no day is fully predictable and no day unfolds exactly how we anticipate, chances are that the coming day may need to be reworked to some extent.
Maintain those items that are non-negotiable, and reconsider other, less pertinent tasks that could either be delegated to others or pushed back a day or two, if they can still be accomplished when time is of the essence!
If working through a series of tasks, be sure to take breaks every now and then, for your own sanity! For me, this is going out for a 20-minute walk, so as to break a bit of a sweat, make space in my mind and breathe in some fresh air! I never regret taking the time to move; it allows me to refocus and switch gears to whatever I have to do next!
5. CELEBRATE Your Progress!
Take time for self-care and to celebrate your progress and achievement of your intentions! This is SO important!
This might take the form of:
A relaxing, Epsom salts bath
A few chapters of that book you’ve been meaning to get to
A hot elixir/beverage (i.e. the Turmeric Ginger Tea, recipe courtesy of Joyous Health, picture above!)
A Netflix episode (cue Stranger Things Season 2!)
A walk outdoors
A coffee/tea date with someone you’ve been meaning to catch up with
Planning your next vacation!
The list goes on and on!
I certainly hope these guidelines help; they are certainly intended to be applicable to any lifestyle, in shaping them to work for you! I would love to hear what works for you! Feel free to get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org!