There is a direct correlation between how effectively we budget our time and how stressed we feel. One of the main reasons people fail to take proper care of their health – physical, emotional, and spiritual – is lack of time.
We often allow other things to take priority and we lose sense of the importance of caring for ourselves. Making your health a priority makes YOU better in every other aspect of your life, including your ability to care for others.
The key to maximizing your results is CONSISTENCY! But, how do we stay consistent when we have so many other things we want to accomplish in a 24-hour period?
How do we prioritize our time so that we can take care of ourselves, take care of our families, get all of our other responsibilities done, and still have time to enjoy life?
Check out my list of 22 Time Saving Tips to Prioritize Your Life and Maximize Your Time. I have read A LOT of books on this topic and they have helped me identify my “Most Important Tasks” (i.e. things I want to accomplish each day) and SCHEDULE them into my day. In time, eating healthy, exercising, and spending time in God’s Word became like brushing my teeth – a part of my daily routine.
1. Record exactly how you spend your time for a few days to a week. Use a journal or activity log like this one to record how you spend your time. This will bring awareness to how much time you ACTUALLY spend on each activity, which is often very different than our PERCEPTION of how much time we spend.
2. Identify and record your long and short term goals – personal, spiritual, physical, career, etc. Which daily activities are moving you toward your goals and which can be eliminated? Circle the activities that align with your goals. These are your PRIORITIES.
3. Check to see if there are any goals you’re NOT taking actions toward and which you may want to add to your priority list. For example, if you want to improve your marriage you need to plan to spend time with your spouse. If you want to lose 10 pounds, you have to set aside time to meal plan and exercise.
4. Make a list of your top priorities that you want to accomplish each day. Put this in a visible location (or schedule them on your calendar) until they become habit.
5. Your PRIORITIES (the activities that align with your goals and values) should have a time assigned to them! Look at your list of priorities to determine which activities should be done daily (prepare meals), weekly (grocery shop), or monthly (pay bills).
6. Time block! Set aside times for each activity and RECORD THEM ON A CALENDAR (planner, Outlook, Google or any calendar format you are comfortable using). Schedule time for your workouts, weekly meal planning and grocery shopping, spending quality time with your kids, reading the Bible, running errands, doing housework, etc. Have some time built into your schedule for YOU (necessary to relieve stress and recharge) and to catch up on tasks that did not get done during the week. Eliminate the non-essential or do them AFTER your priorities are complete.
7. Try to accomplish your two most important tasks first thing in the morning if possible.
8. When working on a particular task, eliminate all other distractions to increase efficiency. Resist the urge to check your e-mail, check Facebook, or switch to another task. This might mean turning off your TV, silencing your phone, or leaving your phone in another room until you have accomplished your task.
9. Limit the amount of time you spend on your phone and computer. Check and respond to emails no more than 2-3 times a day and stick to a 5 sentence limit when possible. Be aware of how much time you spend on social media. Set up an RSS Newsfeed to get the news important to you. For information on how to streamline your newsfeeds, click HERE.
10. Order online and/or use Peapod for groceries. Amazon Prime ($99/year) is well worth the time it saves running to stores (click HERE to sign up). My family also orders all our nonperishable groceries (paper towels, toilet paper, wipes, diapers, coffee, etc.) through Amazon Mom and saves 15% on our monthly order. For more information on Amazon Mom, click HERE. When you have to go to the store, plan to do it during business hours when they are less crowded.
11. Workout at home. Programs like T25 and 21 Day Fix are 30 minutes or less and they will still give you a GREAT workout! It would take you the same amount of time to drive to the gym and back and complete ONE workout as it does to complete ALL your workouts for the week at home!
12. Cook for more than one night at a time and eat leftovers or freeze half for another night.
13. Buy what you can in bulk at a food warehouse like Costco to cut down on your regular grocery list, food costs, and trips to the store.
14. Prep ahead on Sunday if possible. Slice up veggies and hard boil eggs for healthy snacks. Bake chicken breasts for salads and wraps. Make a big batch of oatmeal or quinoa for breakfast. Perhaps even make up a meal or two ahead so all you have to do is pop it in the oven.
15. Discuss your priorities with your spouse and support each other. If you plan to workout at 6 am can she/he get up with the kids if they wake up before you finish? Or can you plan to work out when she/he gets home from work? Can one of you watch the children while the other runs errands? Team up to make the most efficient use of your time.
16. Stop wasting time thinking about what you SHOULD be doing and just do it! Having trouble getting motivated? Make a music playlist, revisit a source of inspiration (e.g. a photo, quote), check in with your accountability partner and/or coach, and think about how you’ll feel when you accomplish the task.
17. Be present, live in the moment, and focus on the now. This will increase your productivity, reduce stress, and help you ENJOY LIFE!
18. Once you have established a schedule that works for you, stick to it! Have a back-up plan in case something unexpected occurs (e.g. back up workout time, back up meal in freezer).
19. Set realistic expectations. Your daily to-do list should have no more than 10 items. Set limits on how much you consume and do and learn to say no when others ask you to take on additional tasks. Know that there will be days where you will get off track and not accomplish them. Shake it off and start fresh the next day.
20. Keep meals simple. Alternate between 1 or 2 of your favorite breakfasts and lunches during the week when you have less time. Use the crock pot. Include simple meals like salads, tacos, baked chicken or fish with steamed veggies, and breakfast for dinner (kids love this!) in your meal rotation. You can even arrange a meal swap with a friend to cut down on cooking time.
21. Get organized. Eliminate clutter so you can find things. Use Evernote or another app to keep track of grocery and to do lists. File important papers and save important documents in easy to find folders. Scan apaper documents to the computer to eliminate clutter.
22. Remember your WHY! There are going to be times you want to put off your priorities to watch TV, sleep in, etc. but doing so won’t move you closer to your goals. Instead, record your favorite shows and use them as a reward for getting your priorities done at the end of the day.
CALL TO ACTION: Share one item from the attached list that you can implement to prioritize your time so that you can take care of yourself and, in turn, be better in every aspect of your life.