How was your weekend? I’m back in Austin after a fun Thanksgiving week in Dallas at my parent’s house…I’ll share a little recap of it soon, because we seriously had the best holiday. No, I mean it! I think it was our best Thanksgiving to date. I love this family of mine like crazy, and I cherish every memory I get to make with them.
Today, I wanted to share this thing I’ve started doing lately. It has made me feel so much calmer and more in control of my calendar. I thought it could be helpful for some of you, too!
(Not that I never get stressed. I totally do. But my time management skills are lightyears ahead of where they were a few years ago, and I know this trick has to do with it.)
I’ve always loved packing my days full and taking on new challenges. It’s how I like to live my life! I’ve accepted that I’ll probably be filling my days to the brim all the way until my dying day, because that’s just how I feel happiest.
BUT…I’ve often been a bit scatterbrained about it. I scramble to fit it all in, feeling my shoulders inch closer and closer to my ears. Some days I’m having fun, and some days I’m thinking “damnit Kelsey, you did it again…you bit off more than you can chew.”
My favorite trick that has improved my time management
I want to give credit where credit is due…but I can’t remember where I got this. (I know that a lot of people recommend similar concepts!)
I listen to a lot of time management /self development podcasts, and I read a lot of books about the same topics, so it could have come from a few different places, but I’m pretty sure I initially got this concept from….
Michael Hyatt’s Free To Focus (which is an excellent book!) or from Brooke Castillo’s podcast. Either way, here it is:
>> At the beginning of the week, I don’t just schedule in the things I need to do…
…I schedule in time that I’m going to relax. <<
If that seems trivial, then you’re probably much better at relaxing than I am. But I’m guessing there are at least a few of you who are with me on this…you get to the end of your week and you got a bunch done, but you also feel like you never stopped to breathe.
And maybe your focus time was a bit…frazzled.
Here’s the funny thing: when I schedule time to relax, I actually work so much more efficiently during my focus hours.
There’s something about knowing that you have 45 minutes scheduled into your evening to read a novel that makes focusing for 3 hours at your desk a lot more productive.
I use my calendar app to schedule appointments, meetings, stuff with Nate and the boys, but when I just want to schedule my own work/to-do life, I use this Erin Condren planner that sits on my desk:
I’ve found that the energies/feelings that I receive from the objects around me play into my overall happiness, productivity, and outcome, so I love using things that make me feel happy when I look at them. That’s why I love these planners!
(PS: I just grabbed my new one for 2022. The Erin Condren Black Friday sale is always AMAZING and this year it’s no exception. It’s the time to shop every year! Prices will go up at the New Year when everyone is shopping for 2023 planners, so definitely grab one at 30% off now if you plan to get one.)
I’m not going to share my entire schedule, but here’s what it looks like for me to pencil in my free time:
^ Saturday afternoon: per my schedule, boys are napping, so I’m reading my novel from 1-2:30 in front of the fireplace.
Again…I know that there are some of you who are shaking your heads and saying, “why can’t you just relax whenever you feel like it?” But I’m telling you…as someone who loves to work and achieve, it’s more common than not for me to get to the end of the week trying to fill every nook and cranny with work.
(And the problem with that? My time management isn’t at its highest level when I’m forcing myself to gogogo at 100% speed 24/7. It just doesn’t work.)
Planning ahead for my rest time has made my time management SO much better.
2 reasons why this trick improves time management:
I WORK when I say I’ll work. I don’t dilly-dally or waste time. Oh, I have exactly 45 minutes to write this blog post before I’m going to enjoy an hour of free time today? Ok, I’d better focus and write!
A rested brain = an efficient brain. It kind of reminds me of what my high school swim coach would say when we were working on improving my reaction time off the starting blocks: “relaxed muscles react faster.”
I was supposed to make my body as calm and relaxed as possible on the “on your mark,” and then when the starting gun when off my muslces would fly off the starting block. When I tensed up, my reaction time was slower.
A brain that has had the time to relax, have fun, play, and not think is better able to focus when the time comes.
Have you ever tried this? I’ll admit….it feels a bit extra at first. Like, seriously, I’m going to pencil in “sit on the couch and watch tv for 60 minutes” into my calendar? For real??”
But just try it! It’s amazing how much more I’m able to get done during my working hours and how much more FREE I feel in my weekly schedule when my down time is going to happen.