A too-busy schedule was the name of the game in my life up until 2019 when I left my Corporate America job to pursue blogging full-time. Before then, I was working 80 hours a week AND training for the Boston Marathon. To say that was a busy time is one massive understatement.
Looking back, I think I was able to do it because I knew there was a finish line – both professionally and athletically. My goal was to leave Corporate America, and I knew I just had to get through the hard season. However, in retrospect, I wish I had been stricter at prioritizing my schedule because there were days of pure misery in there, not to mention panic attacks.
I had to work really hard to create habits, especially in that 80-hours-a-week season, to keep my head above water. And since having Thomas, I am learning how to navigate a different kind of busy schedule. These days, I think everyone feels like their schedules are too busy, but busy does NOT always equal productive. Learning to manage your time and your schedule well will help you enjoy a full life without feeling like you have too much going on, all the time.
There are a few things that help me manage a busy schedule, even as the definition of that changes over time, and that’s what I’m sharing today.
How To Manage A Busy Schedule
Managing your schedule will help you feel so much more efficient and productive, which in turn, will help you feel less scatterbrained and anxious. Finding the ideal schedule can take some trial and error (especially since what’s ideal will change as life circumstances change), but it’s well worth the effort.
4 Tips for Managing a Busy Schedule
1. Be specific with your goals
When your schedule is too busy, be clear about your goals. Set defined and measurable goals (can you hear my corporate side talking?). You need to look at your life and see if you really have time to do all of the things you’re trying to do. Think about how much time everything takes (work, getting ready, eating, grocery shopping), sleep, driving, when you plan to reach the goals, etc. What you’re defining will vary depending on your goals but put some numbers behind them. That’s a good starting point.
In 2019, I knew my goals were to (1) leave my corporate job and (2) run a PR at Boston. That meant making sure I really had the capacity to work 80 hour weeks while working with a running coach and training hard. I had to really figure out if it would be feasible and what my life would look like to do it, week after week. In 2019, I knew my goals were to (1) leave my corporate job and (2) run a PR at Boston.
There’s no point in setting yourself up for something that isn’t achievable or that you cannot make work, no matter how much you want to. So, make sure your goals are outlined and clear, and that there’s a plan to follow.
2. Be ruthless with your prioritize and prepare to sacrifice
If you’re going for big goals, you’ll need to be ruthless about prioritizing the things you must do to reach them. List the top three things you’ll need to do to reach your goals. For example, if you have income goals, you’ll need to prioritize strategy, income producing tasks and growth activities. If you have running goals, you’ll need to prioritize running, sleep and nutrition.
Next, accept that other things will will get sacrificed. Unfortunately, for me this meant I sacrificed time with my husband, friends, and personal tasks. Thankfully, my husband and I both knew that this season had a finish line, both literally and figuratively 😉 so we were committed to seeing the goals through. Long runs took precedence over sleeping in or working took priority over having a lazy Sunday morning or watching TV at night.
You WILL have to sacrifice things in order to prioritize others. That’s just the truth. So make sure the sacrifice will be worth it. Tommy and I both knew it would be for us – and it was! Now I am able to be a work-from-home mom, who is present with Thomas but also in a career that I love. The juice was worth the squeeze.
So, something’s gotta give, but you choose what that something is. When you’re analyzing your goals and what you’ll have to sacrifice to get there, you might realize that it’s not worth it, and that’s okay too.
3. Plan Plan Plan
You know the old saying, “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail”? It’s true.
If running or getting in shape is a big priority for you, look at your day and see where you are spending time that isn’t necessary. I often map out hour-by-hour what I am doing each day. Schedule in time for your workout treat it like an appointment. And then show up. Don’t hit snooze. Don’t make excuses. Just show up.
The same goes for healthy eating. If your goal is to eat a clean meal every day for lunch, then you will have to take some time out of your day in order to make it happen. Whether that means meal prepping on Sunday, or spending 30 minutes more a day making lunch. And if you have a professional goal, write down EXACTLY when you’ll work on that goal and what you will doing during your work time. I even list how long I think something will take and then note how long it actually takes so I can learn to plan better in the future (things almost always take longer, start to finish, than you expect).
I highly suggest the Power Hour method, which I use for work, personal life and fitness, which is a dedicated hour to getting yourself ready for the week.
4. Take care of yourself
There were days that my anxiety got really bad when I was working 80+ hours. A few things that really helped me were turning off social media at night or pausing my inbox (sometimes those DMs would really get me heated), little things like laying my clothes out the night before a run, reading a book, or big things like seeing a therapist regularly. I wish I’d known about Equilibria back then!
Best Time Management Tools
The Notes app is built into your iPhone Free, and totally useful. This is a great place to start with an online to-do list. You can set it up with check boxes so they are easily trackable, and you can put each note into specific folders. I like that my notes are synced to my phone and computer, so I always have them. This is the most basic way to keep track of goals and tasks, but it’s really helpful if you’re willing to stay organized.
Toggl is a time-tracking plugin for your web browser. It’s great for tracking the amount of time you spend on each task, and you can go back and look at your records to see what any given day looks like. I used this when I had part-time employees to track their hours, but it can also work well for personal use if you are growing a business. You can also export your reports to send to your boss, accountability partner, or for your personal records. The cheapest version is $8 a month.
Asana is how I run my entire business. It’s a task management workspace, so Hannah and my other employees are all on the same work dashboard. I create and schedule tasks from there and map out our content calendar. You can also connect Toggl so any time spent on Asana tasks are tracked.
It does take a while to learn how to really use all the features, but if you’re willing to put in the time and want a high-quality project management tool to work with, it’s worth it. I wouldn’t say it’s the best for personal management, but if you need to manage any big projects with others involved, I’d use Asana. Another popular one is ClickUp but I haven’t used it extensivey.
I use TeuxDeux for my personal task management and to stay on top of my top 3 work priorities each day. (Again, that’s something I outline in my Power Hour.) It’s on my laptop and phone, and I like it better than the notes app because I prefer the day-by-day planning feature. If I don’t put my to-do on TeuxDeux, it won’t get done. I love this thing. The best part is that any unfinished tasks roll over to the next day.
I use Voxer for my Beautycounter team and my A Foodie Stays Fit team. It’s an app where you can send voice memos and they all save, so you can go listen anytime you want. You can also text in it, but I treat it like voice memo conversations since it’s so much more efficient. I LOVE Voxer because I can listen and respond to the thread in the car, on a walk, at an appointment, etc.
A piece of paper
Don’t underestimate the power of a paper to-do list! If there are tasks my husband and I both need to work on (like installing baby safety gates or chatting with our realtor), I use a notepad on the kitchen counter and we review it during dinner each night!
Okay, your turn! What are your top tips for time management or favorite apps?
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