Time Management (How to Do It All)

Hey guys! Hope you had a great weekend. Mine was really relaxing – Mike had to work on Saturday so I took the opportunity to clean and organize around the house a little (throw out and donate stuff). We tried a new-to-us sushi restaurant in Burke on a co-worker’s recommendation Saturday evening and were both really impressed by the quality of the fish and sushi!
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We might have found Mike’s new favorite sushi restaurant on the east coast :)

I didn’t feel like going to church on Sunday, but was so glad we did – I loved Mercy’s sermon on the Power of the Cross; one of her main points was that we can’t gain spiritual traction and grow closer to God and His heart if we’re still satisfying the desires of the flesh (our sinful nature), which she compared to jogging while eating a donut – what an amazing illustration! I know there are plenty of times that I allow pride, greed, anger, laziness, etc to rule my thoughts and actions, and Mercy’s point really made me think about how counter-productive all of that is to the goal of living a God-first life. She also talked about how although we can’t control the actions of people who hurt or offend us, it is our choice to hold onto or let go of that hurt/ offense/ anger. I’ve heard this plenty of times before, but on Sunday I needed the reminder because I realized I had been holding onto my irritation against a co-worker, and it was definitely time to forgive and let it go. It gave me a lot more peace going into this week!

Warning: If the word “schedule” makes your bile rise or if your blood pressure goes up at the thought of a to-do list, you might want to skip this next section!

Tips for Effective Time Management

I wanted to share some ways that I’ve been staying organized lately. This has been one of the busiest years I’ve ever had because I’m balancing more “activities” than I have before: work, school, training, travel, blogging, along with the usual chores/ tasks that go along with running a household. I’ve always been the sort of person that likes to focus on one or two things exclusively, but as I was planning out this year I realized that even though I knew a full-time job and two classes a semester would keep me plenty busy on their own, I didn’t want to drop my training schedule or abandon my blog without at least trying to make it all work.

So I began to schedule my time more efficiently, tried different tools and tactics to stay organized and ahead of the game, and over the last couple of months, I’ve learned what works and doesn’t work for me. To my surprise, I’ve been able to balance everything with less stress than ever, as long as I’m realistic about my expectations (i.e. don’t try to schedule double workouts multiple times a week, and don’t plan to wake up at 5 AM to finish a homework assignment before work). Here are a few tools/ thoughts that have helped me stay sane and stick with it all!

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1. Schedule your time: I’ve started scheduling blog/ workout/ study times/events on Google Calendar, and it has made a huge difference because it shows me how much time I have each day to get other stuff done. I set up the schedule for the week ahead on Sunday to get an idea of how busy I’ll be and cancel / move things around as necessary. I’m a big fan of color-coding events as well (gray for studying, yellow for workouts, blue for church stuff, red for important events, etc)!

2. Be realistic about what you can get done: I write down all the little things I have to do like going to the post office, buying plane tickets, clipping Kitty’s nails, etc using Google Tasks and then I assign just a few of them to each day. I really like this method because instead of an endless to-do list, I just have a few to tackle each day (no more than 3!). I like using Google Tasks because you can add it to your Google calendar and see everything at once.

3. Plan ahead of time: I’ve been using Evernote to plan out blog posts and then work on them when I find some time. I also use it to clip recipes while browsing blogs, save meals to make for the next week, and build a food shopping list well ahead of my trip to the market on the weekend. All stuff I can work on when I have a few minutes here and there (while commuting, waiting for a meeting, etc).

4. Prioritize what’s important: While I do want to get EVERYTHING done, I’ve realized that it’s not helpful to think of everything as equally important. If I have to work late at work, is it more important to study or get my run in when I get home? This goes to point #5…

5. Contrary to the title of this post – be okay with not getting everything done: I’ve learned to let go of my anxiety when something takes longer than expected so I can’t cross off everything on my to-do list or an activity drops off my plate that day (or week). A few weeks ago, I had a final and mid-term due so I deleted blogging sessions that week to focus on studying and sleep. There are plenty of weeks where I have 6 workouts scheduled and I only make it to 4 or 5. That’s okay and normal! I’d rather be relaxed and be 70% successful than super-stressed and 100% successful.

6. This is probably the most important thing I’ve learned – have downtime! I intentionally leave some evenings each week open and try not to schedule more than a couple things each weekend so that I have time to relax and recharge. I’ve learned that scheduling every waking minute of each day puts me on the fast track to burn-out.

I’ll be back tomorrow with my first week of half marathon training using FIRST! So glad to be running again.

Do you use productivity or organization tools/ apps?

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