I’d listen, envious, while people talk about how they would get up an hour or two earlier in the morning to exercise, or get some work done, or just simply enjoy a leisurely breakfast. I’ve often harboured fantasies about waking up with the sun, pulling on my running shoes, and setting off into the misty morning for a few quick miles before work.
Unfortunately, when the alarm clock jolted me roughly from sleep, I would, consistently, hit the snooze button repeatedly until I’d snoozed away all chance of extra early morning productivity. I simply can’t bring myself to leave my cozy, comfy, warm bed in the morning. Nothing could rouse me from my slumber.
I spent a long time lamenting this feature of my behavior, I didn’t understand why I couldn’t do what came to other people so naturally.
I’m not productive in the morning, so I’m better off spending that time sleeping peacefully, instead of hitting the snooze button every ten minutes for an hour. These days, I spend my nights being productive. I actually spend about an hour and a half getting ready for bed, doing all of the things I would’ve forgone in favour of “ten more minutes”.
I make my lunch, I make my breakfast (to take to work with me), I pack my workout bag so I can run on my lunch break, I lay out my clothing for the next day. Anything that allows me to sleep in a little later.
It’s working! Since I’m sleeping in later, I can stay up later. I spend a good 45 minutes of that hour and half before bed catching up on blog admin, scheduling my week ahead, and jotting down any ideas, thoughts, or to do’s in Evernote. This decompressing process I’ve started going through has helped me sleep so much better, since I have fewer thoughts running around in my mind when I finally lay my head down, it’s all written down.
Some people might think I’m lazy, some people might think “yeah, getting up sucks, deal with it.” Personally, I think I’m just finally in tune with my most productive times of day, instead of trying to force my ideal of when I should be productive. I’m most productive in the evening, so now I’m giving myself a chance to benefit from that.
By using your productivity peaks and valleys to your advantage, you can be so much more productive in a given day. For example, I generally run out of steam at work at around 3pm. I could have laser focus on a project all day, but once 3pm rolls around, things just sort of fall apart. I have trouble focusing, and I feel the need to get up and walk around or change tasks.
So, since I’m not being productive anyway, I take this opportunity to take my lunch hour and go for a quick run.
Exercising does the trick at getting me out of my funk, and I usually have enough energy left over to finish up the day’s work and prepare for the next day before heading home. Low points in energy levels, will power, or productivity don’t have to be loses. They can be turned into benefits by scheduling in relaxing activities, or, in my case, exercise.
Everyone has strengths and weaknesses when it comes to the productivity cycle of a day. For me, I’m bad in early in the morning, good throughout the day, another bad spell at 3pm, and then pretty good in the evening. By scheduling my day around these strengths and weaknesses, I’m able to work with my natural habits, instead of against them.
About four years ago I would be what you would consider Jack Johnson’s biggest fan. lol! No seriously.
I’ve seen him…oh about ten times live (both paid and free shows), and used to be on his old website’s forum daily. I even made a few “real life” friends through the forum.
My obsession has since decreased (although I still really like him), but all of his CD’s still sit in my car, which I pop in whenever I need a little anti-road rage music.
And whenever I feel myself running around like a chicken with my head cut off, I always sing this line from Brushfire Fairytales…“slow down everyone, you’re moving too fast…”
There are so many reasons to “slow down,” because one way “moving too fast” really affects me are financially.
In just this last week, there are three different times that moving too fast has cost me money.
1. Parking fees. I was going to a yoga class last Wednesday and was trying to squeeze a million things in before I had to leave. If I would have left earlier, I could have driven around an extra five minutes or so to find free parking. Instead I parked at a meter.
2. Gas. Being in a rush once again and not planning ahead of time, I wasn’t able to make it to the cheaper gas station, so I had to go to the more expensive one near my house, just in case I ran out of gas. And if you’ve been to California in the last month or so, you know how expensive things got around here.
3. Convenience food. On several different occasions I was too busy and distracted to take the time to know what I already had in my kitchen and pantry, so I made stops for more food that I didn’t need that was quick and easy when I got home. If I would take a little extra time, I would know what was in my kitchen and come up with a meal from there.
1. Being late for something, so you drive too fast and get a speeding ticket.
2. Having to pay late fees because you got distracted and didn’t pay some bills on time.
3. And as odd as this may sound, being in frenzied mode means you’re more at risk for injuring yourself. I’m notorious for bumping into walls when I’m in a rush, and knocking over and breaking dishes.
4. Not taking the time to comparison shop, so you might be buying a more expensive version of an item.
5. Not making your lunch or coffee because you’re too rushed in the morning, so you end up buying them instead.
I know life is hectic, believe me, but I think there are things we can do in those moments of frenzy to re-center ourselves and not just rush, rush, rush.
1. Can it wait? I often find myself squeezing one last thing/email/phone call in before I need to leave to go somewhere. But more often than not, I can do it when I get back. Resisting that urge in the moment can save me a lot of time and money in the long run.
2. Breathe. So simple and obvious, yet how often do you just take a few moments to take a few breaths to gather yourself?
3. Stay organized. I could save myself a lot of time if I took a few moments the night before to put my keys where I know I can find them, or my bills that need to be mailed by the door. Or if you work in an office to pack your lunch the night before.
4. Staying present with where you are at in the moment. Have you ever read blogs (it might be this one) where you start to pass over whole paragraphs and maybe just get to the end part? (Guilty!) I think that’s just become a norm in our society because we are so busy all the time. Make a habit of trying to slow down and absorb what you are trying to read. If not you might miss some important details.
5. Alleviate distractions, especially while driving. Raise your hand if you’ve ever checked your email at a stoplight, or even sent a text? You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know how potentially dangerous this could be. It’s not worth even a minor repercussion like hitting the back of someone’s car to do this. Or getting a ticket.
6. Find a mantra that works for you to slow yourself down when you need it. You can even borrow mine!
This is a guest post from the lovely Tonya. T.L. is a freelance video editor and blogger living in Los Angeles. She enjoys movies, running and playing beach volleyball. You can follow her personal finance journey on her blog at Budget & the Beach, and follow her on twitter at @beachbudget.
Between working 45 hours at the office every week, taking 12 credits in my MBA program this semester, blogging and doing homework, I don’t have a lot of free time.Then you also have to through in the fact that I have a house and it doesn’t clean itself. Oh and my dogs can’t open the backdoor or take themselves for a walk.
Even with all of this, I love my life. I like to be busy but once my life slows down after this summer (I’ll be done with my MBA program), I will definitely enjoy the tons of extra free time that I will have. Yes of course I’ll still have work, but getting back around 25 hours a week from not having classes and homework will be nice!
When I’m done with my MBA, I know for a fact that I’ll still find ways to keep busy. There are so many things I want to do around my house, and possibly start another blog.
Also, I still find plenty of time to enjoy life. Yes, I may not have as much time as before, but I never feel like I’m crazily running around (except right now of course since finals are starting soon). The BF helps a ton around the house also, so this helps balance everything as well.
Lately, I have also been trying to go to bed earlier, and waking up 30 minutes earlier than I usually do so that I can have more personal time in the mornings. Not having as hectic mornings has definitely helped out. I don’t get a ton of sleep, but instead of going to sleep around 1:30 am, I now try to be bed by 12 to 12:30 am. This is something that I can definitely still improve with though. But right now it’s hard since I don’t get home from class until around 10 pm, so it’s hard just to go to bed right after I go home.
I’ve also been trying to schedule my posts ahead of time. Usually I just type it up the night before, but on Sunday I managed to type around 2 weeks worth of posts. It was all stuff on my mind and it seemed like the ideas couldn’t stop flowing!
Limiting my time online is also another big thing. I spend way too much online. I’m addicted, it’s sad. I can’t stop reading blogs and looking and Pinterest. Lately I’ve just been setting the computer down far away from me and surprisingly that has been working.
Here are my tips to have a successful work-life balance: