We all are working on improving our lives. It’s one of the constants in life. Being better than we were yesterday, striving for that next goal. We got the promotion, now we need the house, then the car. I’m sure if I asked you what you would be doing if you had more free time, you’d list off at least three things easily.
There’s nothing wrong with improving, the only thing holding us back is time. Because it never seems like there is enough of it and actually feels like it’s speeding up more and more every day.
There are ways to keep improving in your life, and all it involves is putting in a little effort and optimizing your free time.
I have to say that my list of things I want to be doing every day never fails to get a little bit bigger. Working out, being at work for 8 hours, spending time with family, keeping my puppies entertained and squeezing in homework all tends to leave me feeling overwhelmed. Like insanely overwhelmed and I reach burnout at lightning speed. So how do we avoid burnout while finding enough time for these things?
Be Willing To Put In The Effort
To be honest, if you aren’t willing to put in the effort then there’s no point to keep reading. In order for any change to happen, it starts with you. You put a plan into action. Instead of saying ‘I wish I had more time for this’ you just start including it into your day. Since you are reading this, there is a part of you that wants to improve! That’s a huge step right there. You’re putting in the effort, and the next step is putting it into action.
Finding time for things you want to be doing every day is not difficult. When we are mentally and physically drained from a long day at work, the only thing that sounds nice is a glass of wine and an episode of The Office. And yes that sounds incredible, but there is so much more time in the day to be improving.
Something I have learned with adopting a new puppy into my life is with training him, you should only spend 15 minutes working on a new trick because their attention span fades quickly. While integrating this into my own life, I realized that using 15 minutes on a project is usually all I need in order to see improvement!
Write Down Everything You Want To Do
Write down a list of everything you want to be doing during the day. You can even include in there how you want to be feeling. Some examples are: work-out every day, have continuous motivation to workout, become a morning person, learn to play the trumpet, write a book, train new puppy, etc. The best way to see something come to life is to start with writing it all down and seeing it out in front of you.
Our brains can get so cluttered with information and even when it seems we are thinking clearly, there are things that get lost in the jumble. Writing things down so that they are out in the real world instead of your mind will help your plan come together much easier. It will also help you stay organized and consistent. Checking off items on the list will become addicting after a while, and you’ll start to want to do more on the list!
Once you have everything written down, go through and number each item on the list. Starting with the first thing you’d like to work on and putting that as number one. This seems pretty self-explanatory, but again it’s all about you physically doing it. This is how you gain an understanding of what is most important to you!
It’s also ok to have a large number of items on that list. There is no limit to how many things you can put on there.
Find the top three things and write them in another list off to the side. These are the items you are going to be focusing on for the next three weeks. Three weeks may sound like a long time, but I’ve noticed that the best way to stick to something is to take it slow and be consistent.
Chances are that you want to jump right into to doing all 20+ items on your list. You definitely can, but if you are struggling at all with sticking things through, I’d suggest following the ‘slow and steady wins the race’ method. Getting used to three new things in your life is a good challenge to start with. Especially if your items include working out, saving money, or learning a new skill. These are things that take time and patience because they don’t come with instant satisfying results.
Treat Your Schedule Like A Budget
This might sound weird, but it’s effective. When we are trying to save money, we have apps that track every single penny. When was the last time you tracked every minute of your day?
From giving your pet his food in the morning, to driving to work, start tracking it. Don’t worry, this isn’t required for the rest of your life. Just for a week or so, until you can see where your time is going. If tracking every minute seems extreme, try tracking every ten. Paying attention to the clock will be important in this step.
My main reason for telling you to do this is because I believe we all underestimate where our time is actually going. We think by the time we get home from work that it’s instantly dinner time. Then there’s only an hour left for TV before bed. What about all those moments in between? When we are checking our phones and scrolling through Facebook?
Those are the specific moments I want you to track. Because these are equivalent to Starbucks coffee stops when you are trying to stick to a budget. If you are dedicated, this won’t be too hard. And, you can add in time for social media/entertainment in addition to the other items. Of course there needs to be time to relax, too!
Do Something On The List Right When You Get Home
A tip for when you get home from work or school is to make it a priority to take care of yourself for 15 minutes. Throw on your running shoes and run for a consistent 15 minutes. Write two pages of your novel. Put in headphones and practice a new language. Put yourself first, because you have had to put other people and your job first for the last 8+ hours.
Focusing on taking care of your needs instantly once you come home is very important. It’s so easy to ignore the urge to go out for a walk and instead sit on the couch and zone out. But, working on yourself for 15 minutes a day will start to have a big impact on your life.
Work towards your aspirations. Start improving today. Being forced to be at work all day can really drain us. We already are putting in our energy in being on our A-game and being productive for our jobs every day. It makes sense to want to shut it all off once we get home.
But, if we don’t make an effort in setting aside time for ourselves, the risk for burnout doubles. And that’s when our relationships start to suffer. We get irritated more easily, and we don’t have enough to give to others because we aren’t giving enough to ourselves.
So start today! Even if you are reading this at 8pm, do one thing on your list after this. 15 minutes is really nothing!