We’ve all heard it before, and at one point or another have probably said it ourselves: I don’t have enough time.
Between working 40+ hours a week, balancing a social life, and making it to the gym – it’s natural to feel like time is a scarce resource, and that you’re just way busier than everyone around you. On the other hand, when you view time across the board, we all have 24 hours in a day. It’s what we choose to do for those 24 hours that result in how much we can get done.
I can’t deny it and I won’t – but I was a victim to the “lack of time lifestyle”, especially during the first year of my career. I felt as though I had barely any time to focus on the things that were important to me. However, as I got accustomed to the 40-hour work weeks, and realized that this was what my life would look like for the next while, I knew I needed to figure something out. I needed to change what I was doing with my time. I began to incorporate daily habits that allowed me to become more productive, essentially giving me more time in a day. Keep reading to learn more!
1. WAKE UP EARLIER
Now, this may come to a shock for those who know me well because there’s no doubt that I was the girl in university who loved sleeping in. The thought of waking up early would make me cringe (and let’s be real, 8:30 am classes were never my thing). However, once I started working I began to notice something. So long as I had a decent amount of sleep the night before (at least 6 hours), I was most productive in the mornings. I was more focused, had more energy, and loved being awake while the rest of the world was asleep.
Waking up earlier allows me to get much more done in a day – whether it’s getting a quick workout in, fueling up with a huge breakfast, or working on my blog, those couple of hours make a huge difference in my day. And this includes weekends too. My ideal Saturday is being up by 7 am, workout complete, showered, breakfast was eaten, and the day started by 9 am. How times have changed from the days I’d be up until 3 am on a Friday! I mean, #noregrets – but I much prefer this lifestyle now.
2. MAKE A TO-DO LIST
Making a to-do list is the basic tool you need to well, figure out what you need to do (duh). Creating a daily to-do list will help you organize what all you need to get done and by when. It helps you see what your day comprises of at-a-glance, allowing you to allocate your time accordingly.
I’m someone that likes to change it up depending on how I’m feeling, so my to-do lists will vary, from being color-coded and organized in an agenda, or a simple checklist on a sticky note. And there’s really no right or wrong way to organize yourself. Choose a method that works for you. The point is to get yourself organized, and start checking off what you need to do!
3. PRIORITIZE YOUR TIME
When I first started working full-time, I was struggling to prioritize my time and what was important to me. It was nice to have a steady income so I could finally do “fun things”, but it didn’t take long to catch up with me. Gone were the days I could party 2 nights on a weekend, and have a productive week come Monday. A lot of my weekends were wasted, pretty much recovering from the night before. This didn’t allow me to focus on the things I enjoyed most – spending quality time with loved ones and working on my personal goals. Now I’m not saying I don’t go out at all anymore. I definitely enjoy a night out or some patio beers every now and then, but again – not my top priority. The way I see it, everything in moderation.
If your priority at the moment is binge-watching all seasons of Grey’s Anatomy – there’s no problem with that. Just know that other things you may want to be focusing on may take a hit as a result. Just like to-do lists, there’s no right or wrong way to prioritize your time. Priorities boil down to what you want to spend your time focusing on, both short-term and long-term. Figure out what it is that truly makes you happy, and take it from there.
Now for those of you that hate the thought of exercise, I know what you’re thinking. Exercising just takes up more time in my day. How can that possibly make me more productive?
Believe it or not, being active for just 30 minutes a day can significantly increase your productivity levels. When you’re working out, you increase blood flow to the brain, which increases awareness and sharpness, allowing you to focus more. Exercising also gives you energy, while releasing endorphins – improving not only your physical health but your mental health as well.
If I miss a workout for 2 days or more, I can feel my energy and productivity levels declining immediately. I feel lethargic, less motivated, and overall much “slower” both physically and mentally.
5. LEAVE YOUR DOWN-TIME FOR THE END OF THE DAY
There’s nothing like coming home after a long day at work, ready to crash on the couch with some Netflix. Downtime first, other stuff later. That method may work for some people, but it has never worked for me.
The moment I “turn myself off” there’s no coming back. In other words, if I lie down for a nap, or start watching a show – it’s very unlikely I’ll be getting anything else done that night. Now not everyone may operate like that. I know people that prefer to have some down-time first, but for me, it’s a lost cause. If I have things I know I need to get done, I won’t reward myself with downtime until it’s complete. Might sound a bit crazy, but by operating this way I’m able to get everything I need to get done, they have some real downtime.
Living a productive lifestyle goes a long way. You have the ability to maximize the amount of time in your day and make the most out of 24 hours. Incorporating a few daily habits can help you become more efficient and focus on what’s most important to you. Do you have any other habits that help you live a productive life? Share them down below in the comments!