Updated: Nov 2, 2018
My daughter is getting married. We are full-on DIY-ers. And we love it. But it is a L.O.T. of work! Coupled with the fact that I have taken a new turn in my career, have two teenage boys that engage in various activities, a husband I enjoy spending as much time as possible with, extended family in the area, and friends I want to see, I've been busy.
Sound familiar? It's kind of the way our society works. And yet, I seem to get the question "How DO you do it?" quite often. So, I thought I'd share a little bit of my everyday practices that help me keep my sanity through it all.
Just Kidding. Though I do find such joy in drinking a good cup-o-joe, I think what helps me most days are the things that join me and my coffee throughout the tasks I face.
1. A good morning and evening routine.
I'm not the best at a bedtime routine because I've broken the super-healthy rule of not having a TV in the bedroom. But, I do have a cup of herbal tea most evenings and get in bed in time to get a full 7 hours of sleep or more. After getting a good night's rest, I start the morning right!
I was one of those people who didn't eat breakfast for quite a while. Having babies changed that some, but it wasn't until I started eating a healthy breakfast every morning that I really noticed a huge difference in my energy level. It's worth the time it takes to make healthy food, and the sacrifice of a few minutes less of sleep to do it!
There are mornings I feel like turning on a bit of news before people start heading out the door, and others I keep the house quiet and simply help my boys get off to school clothed, fed and happy(ish)–they leave by 6:45. No teenage boy is fully happy at that hour. You don't have to be rigid about the routine, but be aware, engaged, and present.
2. Exercise and Meditation.
For me, it's yoga. If your thing is running, we may never fully understand each other's choices, but we can share the practice of consistency. Carving out 30-45 minutes, 3 times a week is a must for me. Whatever the exercise of choice is (even walking–one of my faves!) commit to it.
Prayer and meditation/mindfulness goes along with my morning routine many days, but other times I schedule it at different intervals to keep things fresh. Because some days I know my schedule needs a 10-minute quiet time right before a nerve-racking meeting or stressful public engagement. I may not be intentional with this every day of the week, but it's something I try to commit to at least 4 times a week, and fully conscious of throughout my day. Breathe. Release. Focus. It can be as simple as that.
3. A healthy diet.
Diet is a relationship! I haven't been one to try every diet that comes around, so I can only speak from my experience of having a decent relationship with food for as long as I can remember. Some food sensitivities and an active lifestyle have kept me to a very moderate appetite and ongoing desire to learn about food and the human body.
With that being said, I love the Whole30 diet. I try to do it once or twice a year as a "reset" to keeping most of the food in my life whole. Trust me, I eat cookies and am thrilled that a Thanksgiving feast awaits us in a few short weeks! But, most of my meals consist of whole, non-processed foods on a daily basis. Whatever works for you to keep your relationship with food healthy, embrace it, and continue to devote awareness and time to it!
4. Time blocking.
I'm not as digital and detailed as Amy Schmittauer, but I love her quirky videos on YouTube! She explains the concept of blocking out time for your digital calendar in How To Plan. She has tons of tips on staying organized, so check out any of her videos for tactics that may work for you.
Schedule EVERYTHING. But really. I have a menu of meals I plan to cook during a week (and the times I plan on not cooking, including listing "every man for himself" or "leftovers") on one side of a given week's page, and the exercise I plan to do on the other. My to-do lists look like little blocks of time devoted to specific tasks. If something pops up, I schedule it. I began doing this even when I worked in an office including intentional pauses for movement or activity to refresh me and bring myself to the next job on my list.
Set alarms or reminders. I don't generally use an alarm to wake up in the morning, but I use my trusty iPhone alarm-with-label to tell me what activity I need to focus on. Unless I'm engaged in writing a consuming fiction story, my focus limit is usually around 25-30 minutes. I don't have my alarm go off every half hour, but I use my alarm strategically to keep me from letting distractions take me away from what I need to get done.
This one might not sound like a big deal to you, but studies prove that music makes us more productive. Even now, I have my choice of classical music playing in the background while I write. Some things need to be done in silence, for sure, but music awakes the mind and soul in ways that nothing else can.
Don't forget to add a playlist! Create your playlists for specific duties, and see if your productivity changes.
Well, that seems contradictory! I just told you to schedule everything. And I think you should if you want to be as productive as possible when you are super busy. But, things change. My dad would say: "Life is what happens while we're making plans." And he was someone who got things done, but never seemed flustered when plans would change. I loved that about him.
If I let you peek at my calendar of last week's to-do's of wedding prep and doctor's visits, meetings and deadlines, you'd see a pretty jumbled mess of exes across portions and arrows drawn of this thing being switched to that, because we are a family of five and things get BUSY and really turned around when one person's schedule changes. But everyone likes a happy mom, so I try to take things as they come and not stress when just about everything is different than I originally planned (weeks ago!). I've learned to pencil in the adjustments, and we move on.
I'm sure there are more things I could think of that help me stay calm and sane throughout the daily grind of many different people's expectations of me. But, whether it is planning a day at home, or being more intentional about getting a task list done at work, I had to come to the realization that I have to be a healthy me if I am going to be able to get things done for the people in my life!