These small changes will help you make time for what matters – and not just at Christmas.
There’s no better feeling than surviving the pre-holiday frenzy so you can finally get to the good stuff: Spending time with your family and friends, eating incredible food, and getting your zen on.
It really makes you wonder why we only do this once a year, and all in the name of tradition. I mean, if there weren’t these designated holidays in place, would we stop and take a breather? Would we take the time to double-check our priorities? Or would we just continue on, completely oblivious to the stress spiral we’re imposing on ourselves?
Here are 19 lifestyle tweaks that will help you make time for what’s important to you – and not just because you’re supposed to:
- Wake up earlier. As someone who was a full-blown night hawk before making the switch, trust me: This one lifestyle tweak changes everything. Everything. You know, as long as you use the time for what you want to do and not what you “should” do.
- Use common ground to your advantage. Instead of constantly having to flake on friends because busy this and responsibility that, get things done together you’d be doing anyway. For example, grab a few things at the grocery store or walk your dogs together.
- Don’t use days off to catch up. We skip out on doing the dishes and other Cinderella crap during the week to squeeze in just one more episode of Grey’s, and spend our days off catching up. This leaves us with no time for what we actually want to be doing – like nothing, for instance.
- Keep a list of loose ends on hand that take five minutes or less to do. Then when you’re waiting on a call, making coffee, or sitting in traffic, you can use those moments of epic boredom to tie them.
- Look over everything you do in a day: What can you scale back on? For example, instead of checking the mail daily, can you check it weekly? Instead of doing your bookkeeping every Friday, can you do your bookkeeping on the last Friday of every month?
- Cut back on errands by shopping online, having your groceries delivered, or having your common staples mailed to you automatically as you’re about to run out.
- Put things away. Why put off bulldozing the kitchen counter or clearing the coffee table when you can do it now? Or, take some time before bed to declutter so your home’s in fully functioning order for the morning.
- Don’t make plans. At least, not all the time. Nothing’s going to make you hyperventilate into a paper bag faster than realizing you don’t get a weekend to yourself for six months. Make the time, take the time, and use it to do whatever you feel compelled to do in the moment.
- Don’t get sucked into the vortex that is your inbox. Create set times to check it and make the most of that time. Open each e-mail, and decide what to do with it right that second. You’ll be surprised at how much time this frees up!
- Say no. It’s fun.
- Use procrastination to your advantage. When you’re feeling scattered and can’t focus, use that time to organize something – anything. It’ll give your brain a refresh so you can get back to your regularly scheduled programming.
- Write it down. Before bed, write down any loose ends that would otherwise make you toss and turn for fear of forgetting about them by morning.
- Go tech-free. Give yourself a cutoff time at the end of the day to turn your phone off so you can legitimately wind down for bed. Otherwise, you won’t be able to get off the “just one more thing” hamster wheel.
- Promise you won’t become that woman who always puts herself on the back burner. Choose a minimum of two non-negotiables – for example, never sacrificing your sleep or never sacrificing Shondaland – to get into the habit of making “me time” a priority.
- Give yourself “just five minutes” to work on something you’ve been putting off or dreading. More often than not that five minutes will push you right through to the finish line.
- Clean and run errands during the week so you’re not doing chores on weekends – but don’t overwhelm yourself. Designate each day of the week for cleaning a certain area of the house and rotate.
- Batch your work tasks together into similar themes. When you switch from one thing to another – a call here, an e-mail there, research here, filing there – you exhaust your brain and waste oodles of time.
- Focus on completion, not perfection. Funnel your energy into the aspects of your life that are your top priorities, and learn to be okay with just maintaining the rest.
- Health first. Do everything you can to not skimp on sleep, exercise or healthy eating. Everything else can wait.
How do you make time for what’s important to you?
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Image: Majo’s photos