Making Better Use of My Time

College will teach you a lot of things, but one thing it will teach you for sure is how bad you are at managing time.

I have a tendency to procrastinate. I always have a justification excuse as to why I can put the task off, and then I end up ten times more stressed than I was originally. Once I got married, my time management spiraled even further out of control. I made half-hearted attempts to get on track but soon fell right back off.

Recently, however, I decided that I was no longer satisfied with the way I was doing things. This came about mainly because I started doing more of the things I love. Some of the podcasts I have been listening to – specifically Happier – as well as a book I’ve been reading (10 Time Management Choices That Can Change Your Life by Sandra Felton and Marsha Sims) have greatly inspired me to lead a more productive life and have given me practical ways to do so.

What I have learned is that there is no one-size-fits-all strategy for time management. I’ve tried out several strategies, taken some on, discarded some, and tailored others to fit my needs better. Keeping that in mind, I thought I would share some of the strategies that I use:

  • The one-minute rule: if there is a task that will take you less than one minute to do (for example, hanging up your coat or putting a bag of chips back in the cabinet), go ahead and do it. By doing it right away, you are eliminating having to deal with several little things that will have piled up.
  • A categorized to-do list: I break my to-do list into four quadrants: housework, homework, other work (such as going to the bank or going to the gym), and leisure (like reading, writing, Netflix). For me it helps to see my to-do list broken down into specific types of work.
  • Scheduled housework and workouts: knowing what you need to do on any specific day of the week saves a lot of time and energy. My schedule looks like this:

 

Housework Gym
Sunday
Monday Vacuum Exercise bike & arms
Tuesday Clean bedroom & office
Wednesday Cross-training elliptical & core
Thursday Clean kitchen
Friday Clean bathroom Treadmill & legs
Saturday Clean living room

Some tasks like sweeping and laundry vary depending on need (though I do sweep             every-other day to keep up with dog hair), but they still go on the schedule. And, sometimes things just don’t get done because life happens. When this happens, I just stick them on the schedule for the next day!

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These are just some time-management techniques that I use to lead a more productive, happy life that utilize wisely the resource of time that God has given me.

What are some time-management strategies that you use?

Photo Credit: Cathryn Lavery

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Doing More of What I Love

Sometimes life seems to be an endless repetition of tasks: wake up, eat breakfast, get ready, go to class, eat lunch, do housework, do homework, go to work, eat dinner, sleep, and repeat.

Honestly, life often is a series of repeated tasks, but that doesn’t mean we have to let our lives become boring and stale. Recently I’ve made it a goal to do more of the things that I enjoy. Some of these include:

  • I go to the gym three times a week. That may not sound like an enjoyable thing, but to me it is. I enjoy how I feel after, and I enjoy seeing how hard work results in progress, even if the progress is slow. It also requires a lot of discipline, and being disciplined in this area of my life helps me to be disciplined in other areas of my life (“Discipline” is my word of the year, so bonus!).
  • I read everyday. I’ve made it a point to read something everyday in addition to my Bible reading. I prefer to read a mixture of fiction and nonfiction everyday, but I’m satisfied if I get to read one of the two.
  • I listen to more podcasts. I take advantage of long care rides by listening to some of my favorite podcasts (which include Happier, Uniquely Woman, Cultivating the Lovely, and Mosaic).
  • I write everyday.  Just like with reading, I’ve made it a goal to write something everyday. I love to write – obviously, hence the blog. I have been an avid writer since I was in first grade and participated in the Young Author’s Convention (so if anyone ever asks, my first book was really Sammy the Toothless Shark). For years a lot of my free time was spent writing or daydreaming about stories I wanted to write. Because of school, work, life, and excuses I haven’t spent much time in the past few years writing much other than blog posts (which I definitely love writing). I’m getting back into writing fiction which fills me with so much joy.

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Life often is a series of repeated things to check off of the to-do list, but these tasks can be made much more enjoyable by pairing them with the things you love (for example, listening to a podcast while cleaning). Your days will also become more enjoyable if you schedule in time for activities you love; the things I’ve listed are things that are put on my to-do list. I carve out time among my daily tasks to do things that bring me joy. Why? Self-care is important: take time to relax and do enjoyable (and creative!) things without feeling guilty because you think you should be doing something else.

So that is my challenge to you: make time in your schedule to do things that you love. You’ll be happier for it!

Photo Credit: Jacalyn Beales

Health{ier} Living

I turn twenty in 72 days (what?! how is that possible?!) Since I started college nearly two years ago (again, what?!), I’ve grown up quite a bit. I work, I pay bills, I’m planning my wedding (again, I strongly emphasize WHAT?!), I make my own choices. I’m an adult and I have to make my own choices now. I have to be responsible with my money, my time, my life.

Now, this post is not about how I’m aiming to become a size x or how I want to only eat x amount of calories a day. This post is about making choices and how I’ve decided to aim for a healthier lifestyle all around.

First off, I joined a gym. Me. Yeah, I’m surprised too. But I figured I’m more motivated to use something if it’s taking money out of my bank account every month. So I’ve started going to the gym. I hop on the elliptical and watch Netflix for 30-45 minutes. It’s not so bad. I’ve also started watching what I’m eating. Notice I didn’t say calorie counting or eliminating carbs or whatever. Those things are fine, I’ve just decided to be more conscious about what I eat, choosing almonds over chips, water over soda.

Aside from the changes in my physical lifestyle, I’ve changed other aspects of my life, too. I’ve started watching what thoughts I let enter my head. I have a problem with blaming myself for things that aren’t my fault, with anger, with depression. So, when I have thoughts that are critical or negative or hurtful towards myself or others I stop them in their tracks; I choose to think differently. It was a difficult thing to do at first, I mean, I thought, how do I stop myself from thinking? But it starts with paying attention to what you think about and when something raises a red flag, don’t entertain it. Put an end to it then and there.

Additionally, a change I’ve made is starting and ending my day well. I start with a healthy breakfast – if I wake up in time to make one (I’m still struggling with waking up on time… 🙂 ) and I read my Bible. I will sacrifice doing my hair and makeup as long as I have time to read my Bible; if I don’t start my day in Scripture, it shows. I listen to worship on the way to work and I’m always looking for new songs so that they aren’t just becoming routine, but I can genuinely worship. I end my day, even if I don’t get home until midnight, with reading my Bible. I also journal at night. There’s a pretty famous quote by Flannery O’Connor that says, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I have to say.” It is so true. If I’m dealing with a particularly stressful issue, I write about it, and I can vent and be honest and a lot of times that’s where God reveals something to me or just brings me comfort. Sometimes I just write about my day, even if it was just an ordinary day; it gives me time to reflect.

So I haven’t set outrageous goals. I just want to be a healthier me. God didn’t create us to live miserable lives that are weighed down by an unhealthy physical or mental state. When you’re healthy physically, you feel better. When you’re healthy mentally, you feel better. The two go hand-in-hand. Since I’m nearly twenty and am adulting, with the freedom to make my own decisions, I’m doing my best to live at least a little bit of a healthier lifestyle.

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Photo Credit: Autumn Goodman