Saturday, April 5, 2014

How I get things done

Recently, I was chatting to two friends about life stuff and they asked me the magic question: "How do you find time to do everything?". Sincerely, the answer is quite simple : planning.

Let's start with what they meant by 'everything'.

I have a full time job. My hours are flexible and if you are a workaholic too, you know it generally means long days. It is true that since I got really close to exhaustion two years ago, I keep overtime to a minimum. Still, I am not the kind of person who can easily 'turn off' together with the work laptop.

Work look

Outside office hours, I dedicate as much time possible to my passion. Fitness is a very important aspect of my life and it embraces much more than the time spent in the gym. It is the morning cardio, the food preparation in the weekend, planning workouts, etc.

I also love networking, social media, I collect Dollfies (beautiful Japanese dolls), love gaming, do house stuff, have long calls with my mom who lives in Brazil, have a cat and spend time with my other half. It is true that I do not have kids, however I am not the kind of person who can sit still for a long time anyways. 

So how do I do it?

First of all, I have my priorities. Focusing in 'one thing at a time' allows me to get more done with quality than I would by just jumping back and forth. It is true that things come up here and there, but you have to keep in their importance in mind. Evaluate the situation. OK, it might be urgent, but do you really have to drop the email you are writing? Or can you even do it later today? Sometimes, asking such a simple question can facilitate your planning a lot.

Secondly, I free my head by noting absolutely everything I must know or do. I may use colors or symbols as visual aids, but I do keep a record of the smallest appointments and set reminders whenever necessary. Having it all in my head would only increase the chances of missing 'something' and tire myself in the process. For the most part, I keep an electronic calendar, but I also have a small notebook in case of emergency (battery of smartphones generally goes down when we most need them). Try to have it in one place: grocery shop, to do list, bills to pay, etc. No need to waste time looking for anything.

Finally,  I am realistic about my day. I would love to restart running (it has been 3 years already!!), go back to Japanese classes and train BJJ again; just to mention a few. Unfortunately, a day only has 24 hours and I must sleep for at least 7 of those if I want to function properly the day after. While the first point was related to prioritizing your to dos and activities, this last one is about your life in general. So many times we allow our calendars to be double booked even though we know that we cannot be in two places at the same time. Don't do it with yourself.

Saturday bulk cooking: trying a new recipe

Take time to reflect about your schedule and evaluate how you can implement these steps on a daily basis. After that, it is time to choose a means to keep track of schedule. Do you prefer a paper agenda or do you choose to keep things electronically? Do you want to separate your private from your professional appointments? Would you like to share it with someone else, like your partner? Plan it in your head. Do not focus on how others do, but find a system that fits you best.

And then comes the moment of putting it all into practice...

Remember to save yourself some free time. We are not machines, we need down times to recover. The more rested you are, the more productive you will be. In addition, expect the unexpected. There are only a handful things we can totally control in life. The rest, just happens. You can leave home on time to go through your emails before a meeting, but get caught up in traffic. You do not take your gym bag with you thinking that you be able to stop home first, but then a call takes longer than planned. The weather is really nice outside, but you have to hit home earlier because you just brought one meal with you. These are obvious obstacles, but there is also getting sick (or having someone sick in the family), a last minute appointment, or anything else that might force you change your plans.

Accept that you are not in charge of every single atom of the Universe. Get organized with the things you can control and be flexible with the rest. Enjoy the time that will free that you will find by managing your time better.

Fitness is a passion to me, but there's more in life than training.

Do you also plan your days ahead? How do you do it? Share your tips and feel free to share your comments and ask questions. I would love to hear from you too!

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