How To...Balance a Hectic Schedule
Far too many times I get asked the same question (in different forms)…that question is “How do you do all that you do?” Between working a full time job, coaching cheerleading, being active in my sorority, being active in my church, and running my own business…sometimes I have to ask myself how do I balance it all? Especially when I know the importance of self-care, mental health routines, and well deserved “me time”. Well today during #ThoughtfulThursday we are going to discuss exactly how to balance a hectic schedule to be as effective as you possibly can.
1. Eliminate the “I don’t have time” excuse
The very first step in balancing a hectic schedule is to completely eliminate the “I don’t have time” excuse…refuse to accept it from yourself. In most cases, it’s not the issue of not having enough time just that we’re not strategic with the use of our time. Don’t believe me? Do some basic math and see exactly how much time you have left:
7 days x 24 hours = 168 Hours = 168 hours remaining
8 hours of sleep /day = 56 hours = 112 Hours remaining
10 hours of work/day = 50 hours = 62 Hours remaining
So…You’ve slept for 8 hours (which 6 is more than enough but fine!), worked (most people work 8 hours with a commute), and you still have 62 hours left. If you have other obligations fine, but be honest about those time constraints and see how much of your time is left. You’d be surprised. To see a more realistic example here’s my breakdown:
7 days x 24 hours = 168 hours = 168 hours remaining
6 hours of sleep/day =48 hours =120 hours remaining
13 hours of work/day = 65 hours = 55 hours remaining
Cheer practice 3 days/week =9 hours =46 hours remaining
Church & Devotional Time = 5 hours = 41 hours remaining
Want to know how I do all that I do…I am EXTREMELY particular with how I spend my time and am very careful not to waste the remaining 41 hours I have left. I will work on my business during my lunch break, I will stay up later than I feel like to get some work done, I wake up earlier than necessary to get things done, even on the airplane…I’m working while in airplane mode. If you’re going to say things like “I don’t have time” just understand it’s simply an excuse and learn to say “I don’t want to do it”. Because at the end of the day…numbers don’t like. What could you do with your “extra” time?
2. Create a schedule and stick to it
Just because I am saying “I don’t have time” is an excuse doesn’t mean I don’t recognize that time is limited. Getting strategic with your time is the only way you’re going to be able to balance a hectic schedule while maintaining your sanity. That time exercise works with saying yes to things just as much as it goes to saying no to things, which I’m working through now. There have been other things come up that I’ve wanted to involve myself in and understand that if I’m going to be successful and manage my mental health, I’m going to have to understand where my limits lie. In order for me to say yes it has to align with my purpose and my calling. I am able to make those distinctions in large part because I understand my schedule and I know what all I’m currently juggling.
When I was first getting used to my schedule and learning how to balance everything I had my days scheduled down to the hour. I knew when I was going to cook and how many days of leftovers I needed, I knew when I was going to work on my business, I knew when I was going to workout, and when I was going to have my sabbath. Every Sunday I looked at my schedule and evaluated what was on my schedule and when I was going to get my tasks done also. Time is just like money…if you don’t plan for it someone else will plan it for you. Make a plan for your time and stick to it!
3. Schedule your self-care
I am just as particular with my self-care time as I am with my productive time. It’s a necessary step towards maintaining my productivity, and because I know that I plan for it in my schedule. Once a week I have a day full of rest and I refuse to do anything out of obligation. We were made in the image of God and He took a sabbath…and so should you! We were not designed to work 7 days a week, you cannot maintain that long term while still functioning at your prime. Unplug from the world, focus on yourself for a bit, and simply recover from everything. Don’t feel like you “can” take time for yourself, especially not a whole day? Start small! Schedule a 1 hour massage once a month, go to the movies by yourself, sleep with your phone turned off, start your mornings with quiet time, or do whatever it is that you feel you need to unwind.
For me, knowing that I have a sabbath coming gives me the motivation to keep pushing and working sun up to sun down (literally). My days start as early as 4:30am and end as late as 10/10:30, and the time spent in between is very often hectic and sometimes overwhelming. However, knowing that I have something to look forward to helps because it allows me to appreciate the rest that much more. Because I know there’s going to be rest coming, I can work that much harder. And when I do get overwhelmed I look at my countdown app that reminds me of what exciting things I have coming up. Whether that’s a vacation, massage, or just a day off!
I feel like I need to say this for those who feel like having time for themselves is unnecessary, impossible, or optional...you cannot pour from an empty cup. You have to take care of your needs 1stin order to take care of the needs of those around you. Think about how it would work if you were breastfeeding but not eating yourself. Sure your child will be getting food, but will the food they’re receiving be nutritional if you’re not getting your nutrients? You MUST care for yourself 1st!
4. Use every minute of your time wisely
This is the very thing that will separate those who are motivated and those who just say they are. How are you using your free time? How long does it take you to get out of bed in the morning? Where can you make cuts in your schedule? How could you be more productive with your time? What could you be doing while you’re watching your favorite tv show? You may think “It’s only 10 minutes”…but on your list of things to get done can’t you accomplish something small to save your time for the big things later? Or even if you began working on the bigger tasks and broke them down into smaller ones. You may not get it finished but you’re further along than you would’ve been otherwise.
I’ve always been a very productive person, sometimes a bit too productive (I literally have to remind myself to relax). Ever since high school I’ve been involved in a billion different things that keep me busy, but what I’ve learned is when you always have something to do it requires a different sense of productivity. Even when I’m falling into an unproductive state I very often ask myself “what can I be doing right now?” which triggers a glance at the to-do list. If you are not using your time wisely it will very easily sneak away from you and you may not even notice it has passed.
5. GET ORGANIZED!
We’ve discussed this time and time again, but it’s really that important. It is virtually impossible to balance a hectic schedule if you refuse to take the time to organize yourself. I know it takes time to get organized, I also know that not everyone is naturally organized, and I am fully aware I’m adding one more thing to your to-do list. However, getting organized means taking one step back so that you’re prepared to take multiple steps forward. You’re able to use your time more efficiently if you’re focused and strategic with the things you need to accomplish.
*Bonus* Whether you think you can or you think you can’t…you’re right!
What you say to yourself or about yourself is ultimately what becomes the reality, whether you believe it or not. If you feel like you can accomplish something, you will begin to create that reality within your universe. However, if you say, think, or feel like you cannot…the universe will begin to create that reality for your as well. Be very particular about how you speak about yourself, and also how you speak to yourself because it absolutely makes a difference.