This weekend I went over to Isabelle’s to do an interview for her blog podcast. It was such a blast talking about my vegan journey, and Peaceful Dumpling, of course! And one of the questions she asked was, “How do you get everything done in your busy life?”
I talked about how to work steadily and with a positive attitude, but it really takes many talking points to cover this topic. With my 3 “jobs,” personal interests, and social and familial activities, my schedule is indeed packed.
On an average week, this is how I spend my weekday: 10 hours at the office; 1.75 hours commute; 1.25 hr exercise (counting the time it takes to walk from office to barre studio); Peaceful Dumpling or my fiction work which can be anywhere from 2 to 8 hours, but mostly around 4 on average. Typically my only relaxing time is about .5 hr I spend making and eating dinner, and I spend 1 hour getting ready for work/ getting ready for bed, which leaves about 5.5 hours of sleep a night, give or take.
It’s admittedly a tight schedule, but I’ve thankfully managed to juggle everything. Here are some tips that help me stay afloat!
Plan it all out. I’m quite religious about writing out my plans/tasks in my Moleskin planner. If I don’t write something down, it’s pretty safe to say that it won’t get done. I even go so far as to write all the email recipients’ names down with separate check marks (as opposed to just saying, “Emails”). This can become quite a long list, but trust me, once you take 1 minute to write it all down, you’ll breeze past the list without stopping to wonder, what should I do next. This eventually saves you a ton of time.
I also make sure I do long-term planning as well. This isn’t nearly as specific, but having an idea of what’s coming up in the next few weeks helps you to manage your commitments. If I know I have a project that I’ll be working on during one week, I won’t commit to an event for instance. Every other week when I do laundry, I plan out my barre classes accordingly so that I don’t have to miss an extra day. It may sound strict, but you end up feeling more calm that you knew ahead of time what was coming.
Create a block related to the kind of project. Because so much of what I do can be vastly different from one another, I find myself having to switch gears a lot–which is honestly a lot more stressful than simply working. So I keep the amount of stress to a minimum by devoting chunks of time to a related project only. For example, on Saturdays I work on my fiction. On Sundays, I catch up on my job and work on Peaceful Dumpling. During weekday nights, I decide which projects need my attention and focus on that. That doesn’t mean I will be MIA if something comes up on the “wrong” day, but I find I am most effective if I get into something and stay there.
Focus on one task at a time. It’s tempting to do work with the TV or music on, or constantly checking facebook or Instagram–or my favorite, texting!–but when you have a lot to do, you have to keep your focus. Evidently, multitasking decreases productivity by 40%, and not only that, reduces your IQ and shrinks the region of your brain that accounts for cognitive and emotional control (!!!). Ugh if that’s not enough to make you put your phone down, I don’t know what is. But let’s be real, I do still multitask every day, especially at night when I’m cooking / working / organizing my room / feeding my cat, but save more important tasks for single tasking.
Schedule fun–but be deliberate about it. It’s unbelievable to me ,too, but I do get fun times as well. Unless it’s truly crunch time, I try to schedule one, if not two nights off out of 7 days, whether that’s doing minimal amount of work after coming home and reading until early bedtime, going out to an event, or meeting friends. If I know something good is coming up, it makes me feel better about not watching TV or doing any kind of passive leisure activities all the rest of the time. Would you rather watch 2-3 hours of TV a night (15-20 hours a week) or not do that and go out with a bang once or twice a week such as a super nice meal / cocktails / interesting art event (5-8 hours a week). I’d def take the latter.
Prioritize your fitness. Acclaimed author Haruki Murakami is well-known for his running routine he’s maintained for over 35 years, rising before 5 and getting to bed before 10. My 6-7 day workout schedule might seem rigid to some, but I know keeping my body fit is the only way I can keep my mind fit.
“My strength has always been the fact that I work hard and can handle a lot physically. I’m more of a workhorse than a racehorse.” – Haruki Murakami. It’s exactly what I’d say!!
If not everything gets done, and you’re going to feel overwhelmed, that’s okay. My answer to Isabelle bears repeating. I frequently feel overwhelmed and think, “This is impossible. I feel like dying!!” So no matter how much I apply these tips and assiduously divide my time, I’m human, and there’s only so much I can do–or do with grace and ease and positive attitude. So I muddle through, and often drop balls like washing my makeup brushes or buying enough cat food. But you have to be kind to yourself and see the big picture. If you’re handling most things on your plate, then I’d consider that not a kind-of success, but a whole success. In other words, how much you get done is not an all-or-nothing deal.
What time management tips help you stay on top of your busy life?
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