When it comes to work, rest and play, learn to streamline your routine for maximum efficiency says Emma Krieger.
When it comes to work, rest and play, learn to streamline your routine for maximum efficiency says Emma Krieger.Finding that ever-elusive work/life balance, as more and more demands are placed on our time, is nigh on impossible for those juggling work commitments, children and relationships. And the first to go is invariably ‘you time’. However, stopping work from creeping into your life, getting more done in less time and finding time to exercise needn’t be a constant struggle.
Outlining your tasks at the start of each day through the use of a to-do list is one of the simplest and most effective ways of managing your time.
Seeing all of your daily tasks set out in front of you lets you plan your day more efficiently. Eve Ash, a motivational psychologist and author of Rewrite Your Life! (£8.99, Penguin Books), says that people can easily feel overwhelmed and writing out a to-do list helps break down what seems like monumental tasks into smaller, more manageable steps.
“Some people have a wide range of folders, files and notes, piled high as a visual reminder of the many things they must get done,” she says. “These constant visual images and repeated thoughts though can become counterproductive – they create stress and add to anxiety rather than helping get the tasks done.”
She continues: “An effective, proven method to combat this syndrome is to make one list of the tasks to be done. These can be the calls to be made, payments to make, reports to be written, items to be completed and appointments to be arranged. Once you have a list, it is easy and satisfying to cross off each task as you perform it.”
Ash also says to set priorities, which will help you stay focused on each individual task.
“Once you’ve written your list, try to categorise your tasks into no more than three key priorities. For example, one priority might be making phone calls, another might be writing reports, while a third could be preparing for an important meeting. Being clear about your priorities helps to focus the mind, keeps you on track and stops you from getting distracted.”
Some other tips for utilising your time at work include delegating less important tasks to less senior people, completing the important tasks earlier in the day and learning to say no where appropriate.
Lack of free time often sees us giving up those moments to just sit back and relax.
Whether reading a good book, taking a bath or meditating, finding ‘you time’ is imperative for staying both mentally and physically healthy.
Leo Babauta, author of The Power of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential, in Business and in Life (£11.99, Hyperion) offers some simple ideas for finding more free time for yourself at home. He says it all comes down to organisation, time management and routines.
“Whether you’re single or have a household full of kids, mornings are often a stressful rush,” he explains. “To combat this, create an evening routine where you get everything ready the night before, so you can start your day off right.
This might not technically save time, but it gives you more time in the morning to focus on getting important things done rather than rushing through your routine, thereby causing undue stress.”
Babauta advises having an organised home, which can help busy people to focus and in the end saves time.
“I’m a big fan of clutter-free homes and workspaces, not only for their nicer aesthetics but because it helps you to focus on what you’re doing instead of being distracted by visual clutter,” he says. “It’s more serene and relaxing and it saves time. It makes things easier to find, easier to clean, easier to navigate, and reduces wasted time reshuffling, sorting, looking through things and clearing away piles of clutter.”
Babauta also recommends planning your weekly menu and cooking bulk batches of food and freezing it for the week ahead.
“I like to make large batches of food, which is especially helpful when you have a big family. I’ll cook up a big batch of veggie soup or spaghetti and eat the leftovers for lunch or dinner.”
Exercise. We all know we need to do it (and often more of it) but finding the time can sometimes seem impossible.
Completing a spin class is a fantastic way to get an all-over body workout in just 40 minutes, and is the most effective way of strengthening your core, toning muscles and increasing cardiovascular fitness, all within a short period of time.
“Spin is unique in that most people can participate,” says Fitness First personal training manager Michael Famularo. “It’s ahard workout for those who choose to make it hard. But the beauty of spin is that a beginner can ride right alongside an accomplished cyclist.” He adds: “Because of the variations in the music, whether you’re climbing a hill or sprinting, riders benefit from the constant variation and high intensity from spin classes,” says Famularo.
The cornerstone of spin is heart rate training – one of the most effective ways to improve cardiovascular strength. Riders control theresistance on their own bikes, thus maintaining the ability to go at their own pace while still participating in the class.
Burning up to 800 calories during a 40-minute class allows you to further maximise weight loss and improve fitness. Even at challenging levels other cardio equipment couldn’t burn that many calories in such a short period.
Famularo recommends two to three spin sessions per week as the ideal amount, but as spin workouts can be specifically tailored for each individual, one session per week will still boost your health and fitness levels and allow you to achieve results.
Caroline Shola Arewa, wellness coach and author of Success without Stress (£7.99, Ebook) shares three creative ways to get results with ease:
Visualisation: Take any goal you wish to achieve. It may be weight loss, winning a big contract or financial freedom. Allow yourself to fast forward to a date in time when you have already achieved your goal. Close your eyes and imagine how you look and feel; who is around you, what are people saying? Fully embrace the experience, claim it, own it, become it.
Sleep on it: Recall a problem that has been on your mind and before you go to bed, simply set the intention to create a solution. Remember you have already laid the groundwork by thinking it over previously. So there is no need to do anything else,allow your unconscious mind to work on it. By morning you will have an answer.
Mirror the experts: Think of someone you admire and aspire to be like. It can be a colleague, friend, family member or well-known figure. Whenever you have an issue, bring them to mind. Ask yourself how they would deal with it and emulate their behaviour. It saves lots of energy!
To find out more about Caroline Shola Arewa, visit shola.co.uk
The National Health Service (nhs.uk) offers the following tips on effective time management, courtesy of occupational psychologist, Emma Donaldson-Feilder:
Work out your goals
Work out who you want to be, your priorities in life and what you want to achieve in your career or personal life. Once you’ve worked out the big picture, even if it’s quite general, you can then work out some short- and medium-term goals. Knowing your goals will help you plan better and focus on the things that will help you achieve those goals.
Have a lunch break
As a general rule, taking at least 30 minutes away from your desk will help you to be more effective in the afternoon. Go for a walk outdoors or, better still, do some exercise. You’ll come back to your desk re-energised, with a new set of eyes and a renewed focus.
Prioritise important tasks
Tasks can be grouped in four categories: urgent and important, not urgent but important, urgent but not important, and neither urgent nor important. Create time to concentrate on non-urgent, important activities, thus minimising the chances of activities ever becoming urgent and important.
Practise the 4 DS
We can spend up to half our working day going through our email inbox, making us tired, frustrated and unproductive. When you receive an email do one of the following things:
1. Delete: half of the emails you receive can probably be deleted immediately.
2. Do: if the email is urgent or can be completed quickly.
3. Delegate: if the email can be better dealt with by someone else.
4. Defer: set aside time at a later date to spend on emails that require longer action.
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