Generally speaking, I've taken pride in being one who works extremely well under "last minute" pressure. It gave me great satisfaction to stretch the timeline on most tasks 'til their elasticity was just about to give out. No, deadlines did not trigger any sort of anxious mechanism. They were simply letters and numbers on a piece of paper. A virtue, since most things CAN be put off.
There was only one problem. Recently, I began feeling as though the hours in my days didn't suffice. 24?!? Try 36, at least. What on earth triggered this sentiment? The more things started to pile up, the worse I felt. A simple example: after 2 years, I didn't have any visual proof that I was legally bound to the married life. The disappointment set in once my parents and in laws stopped inquiring due to the lack of importance I had given it. The time had come to sit and be honest with myself. How could I make the most of my day without feeling as thought the hands on the clock were out to get me? Welcome to adulthood, I told myself.
I have much more going on today than I did a few years back and my responsibilities continue to increase with each passing day. Slowly, I have begun implementing a few habits that make me feel increasingly more productive. Here a few of the things that help me keep my sanity on a daily basis:
Get your sleep on.... I work three shifts weekly, which are 13 hours long and and don't get home until midnight. I have no problem falling asleep on these evenings, sleep like a baby and wake up feeling refreshed. I've learned that going to sleep consistently at the same time each night has enabled me to achieve a more restful sleep pattern. Now I go to bed around midnight on the evenings I don't work too. Getting a good night's rest has a great impact on my level of performance the next day. I've found six to seven hours of sleep is sufficient for me, but realize others may require a different amount. I suggest finding your individual rest requirements and staying consistent with them.
Be an early bird. This is easier said than done. Most of us are addicted to pressing the snooze button. Who can blame us? One thing I've learned from early risers is that you're gaining more time by waking up early. Not only is there a sense of accomplishment (yes, getting up IS the accomplishment), but you're more inclined get the move on and make the most of your day. My alarm is set for 6:50 am and I roll out of bed at 7:00 am. I go to the gym (not before washing up), shower, eat a healthy breakfast, then I'm energized for a day full of productivity. Rising early every day allows me to accomplish my personal and professional goals. The early bird gets the worm folks, don't forget it!
Prioritize...Keep in mind that you are only one person with one set of hands and can only do one thing at a time. So, what's it gonna be? For some reason, on days off I felt this utter need to do rounds. By rounds, I mean hop in my car, drive to Homegoods, Target, Ross and TJMaxx-which are all conveniently located within a 2 mile radius from my home and 0.8 mile of one another. I felt the need to go and make sure I was up to date with their latest inventory, even though I knew I didn't have any intentions of purchasing anything. Instead, I've taken that time and spent it wisely. I make sure that laundry is completed, meats are marinating, dogs are walked and any other pertinent errand is run. Hey, listen, I want to have as much fun as you, but whether you do those things now or later, you'll have to do them eventually. So, focus.
Do one thing you really love. This statement can easily be transitioned into taking some time out of the day and spending it on yourself. For me, it's the gym. Once I've completed my workout, I immediately feel better and equipped to take anything on! So, maybe for you its a little yoga, or reading a few chapters in a book. Whatever the case, treating yourself will ease your mind from the ongoing lists of errands we are constantly bombarded with! Have some coffee or tea to get your energy level peaking and get started with the most important task of your day. You got this!
When possible, use a timer. I really hate cleaning. By the same token, I love to live neatly and see everything in its respective spot. I have an 11 year old boy and 2 dogs who shed. I'm forced to constantly be picking up, otherwise the mess will consume me! I'll let you in on my secret. I use the timer on my iPhone to get this dreaded task done. I allot a certain amount of time per room (i.e. guest bathroom, living room, kitchen) and set the time according to the amount of cleaning needed for each room. I've turned it into a game to beat my own time and made it a little more exciting. Music blasting, timer on and it's GO time! No stopping for this or that, until the job is completed. What a sense of satisfaction when it's all completed! No better reward than gaining some time.
Limit your time on social media. Ah! My achilles heel has been brought to light! To think I wasn't even on social media a few years back! It's quite easy to get caught up and spend hours looking at pretty pics and interacting. I love meeting new people and being social, but I MUST put the phone down in order to remain productive. I always felt a slight bit of guilt doing this and wondered what my cyber friends would do. Now I realize they should do the same thing too. Get the important things done first. Instagram can wait! Paying those bills can't!
Appreciate what you've already done. This mainly applies to those that are totally disorganized and whose purses look like garbage cans (just like mine). Pat yourselves on the back if you've so scratched one thing off your TO-DO list today! It's a big accomplishment and you should be kind to yourself. Every little thing done today is one less thing you have to do tomorrow. You'll feel great at the end of a productive day. Last year, I was behind on all my check-ups (I know, nurses are the worst). This year I made all my appointments in January and it felt so good getting them behind me! Phew! I'll make sure to do the same thing next year.
Chances are I'll always be the type to leave some things to the last minute. Hey, that's who I am. By improving my daily performance and staying focused I'll relieve many of the stress brought on by responsibilities. Some things shouldn't wait and the more you do, the less burdened you'll feel. If you've done everything you can today, then there's always tomorrow. What are some of the secrets that help you get stuff done?