My weeks fly by far too quickly. Working and running life’s errands seem to eat up most of my days. This is OK with me as I enjoy what I do and feel best when I stay on top of things but I do like to find as much time as possible for life’s richer offerings-friends, family, and time spent on my own hobbies. Over the years I’ve developed a few tactics for maximizing my time that I think work well given my career as a nurse practitioner. The New Year is the perfect time for us to to reflect on and improve the way we plan to spend our time in 2015.
Working odd hours in the emergency department leaves me with limited evenings to spend dining with friends or lounging on the couch watching TV with my husband. So, I try to organize my week in such a way that I am able to create as much leisure time as possible. Here’s how I do it.
1. Group activities and tasks
Thinking through my week ahead of time allows me to group activities in such a way that I can complete them as efficiently as possible. If I know I have a lot of writing to do for the blog, I set aside an entire day when I know I won’t be distracted to type away. With my more thought intensive activities out of the way, I then block an entire afternoon devoted to running errands.
Switching from task to task takes time. So, group similar activities to avoid wasted mental and physical energy, not to mention the time spent bouncing between unrelated endeavors.
2. Think ahead about meals
I spend a lot of time eating. I spend a lot of time thinking about eating. Don’t judge. You do too. Getting three square meals prepared everyday takes time, especially if you have a family.
Plan your meals ahead to save time. This eliminates the midweek trip to the grocery store after work to refresh your pantry. I even go so far as to chop veggies and prep ingredients on Sunday afternoons so dinners are quick and seamless all week long. Check to see if grocery stores near your home have pick-up or delivery programs for added time savings.
3. Make weekly goals and a plan for achieving them
Planning each and every hour of your day may seem rigid, but it helps ensure you will get things done. Every Sunday I get a plan in place for the coming week. I jot down my work schedule, plan our weeknight dinner menus, and outline what needs to be done and what I want to accomplish. As I complete each item I cross it off my list. Crossing something off a “To Do” list is, after all, the ultimate feeling of accomplishment.
My daily and weekly schedules can sometimes be a bit too ambitious- I don’t always finish everything on my list. I’m learning to make my lists appropriately achievable. But, having a plan for my week keeps me on track even through days where I feel less motivated. Any deviation from the plan is purposeful and for good reason- a dinner invitation, to name one.
4. Exercise every morning
It seems counterintuitive, but taking 30 or 45 minutes a day to exercise will make you more efficient. Mogul Richard Branson even names is his number one “secret” to productivity.
I’ve been accused of bordering on a fitness commercial when I discuss the benefits of exercise with friends, but I swear it will revolutionize your life. For me, exercising every morning gets my day started on the right foot. It serves as the ultimate motivator. If I neglect my physical body, a mental fog creeps in and the afternoon blah’s consume far too much of my day. Starting the day with a little sweat wakes up my brain helping me to work more efficiently. It ignites my motivation whether my goal be to make it through a 12 hour shift or get my house in order.
5. Less is more
The more stuff you have the busier you will feel. The larger your yard, the more time it takes to mow. The more clothes you have, the longer it takes to choose an outfit. The bigger your home the longer it takes to clean. Even if you delegate these activities to say, a cleaning or lawn care service, the more you have the more it costs (i.e. longer you have to work) to maintain your life and possessions.
By no means do I live that simply. Admittedly, my closet is currently bursting at the seams. But, the less is more value is something I am in the process of embracing (just not when it comes to shoes…). Getting a little more minimalist when it comes to my possessions has so far been a freeing, time-saving experience.
How do you make the most of your time during the work week?
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