10 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Day
BY KIMBERLY CARROLL, MA, LPC, LADC
November 5, 2016
1. Good sleep! Start on a good note by getting proper rest the night before. Got kids? Your planning may need to be more strategic. Where the National Sleep Foundation still recommends young adults up to older adults still need 7-9 hours of sleep per night, you may have to figure out your best way to accomplish this and your tasks in a way that works best with little Jimmy’s sleep patterns; if you are a night-owl maybe this means scheduling a single specific task and allotted time frame after your kiddo falls into dreamland, before you kill the lights and do the same. If you are a morning person, maybe this means getting your darling into bed a little sooner and then waking up a little earlier yourself.
2. Schedule proper, healthy meals. When I say proper, coffee doesn’t count as a healthy meal, despite how delightful it can be, no matter how much you would like to believe it comes from a bean and you add dairy product and sugars to it! If this is you, don’t forget to add something on the side. Quick meals from the leftovers in the fridge could be a way to tackle this. Still struggling? Keep a loaf of bread (or package out a few slices in sandwich bags) and keep them in your car or desk along with a jar of peanut butter, and a butter knife. It is quick in a pinch, but still allows you to nurture your body. Apples and oranges can also be great, long-lasting fruits for those busy days. Want something warm and low-cost? Try leaving some microwavable soups in your car or office; even for the frequent traveler, gas stations are kind enough to loan their microwave to the passing civilian.
3. A little exercise. Okay, on the note of busy schedules, everyone has at least 5 minutes to step out and take a stroll or could complete a 5 minute workout of their choice, physical abilities, allowing. What about doing Warrior Pose on your elevator ride or a power stance? Not only is exercise and these things good for your body, flexibility and muscle toning, but it is actually wonderful for the brain. Feeling stressed, down, anxious? Leave it at the doorway, even if you need to say this to yourself and get to moving out of those emotions.
4. Set a few goals. A few is my way of saying, “let’s be realistic” because goal lists could go on and on. So which one’s should you do now? Well let’s start with one year from today. What would you like this to look like? Then, six months from today, three months from today and this week.You will start to notice that these chain together and you could actually schedule in 2 items per week starting now, to reach your longer term goals. Put them on a checklist and cross them off when you have completed them. Ohh, doesn’t scribbling those suckers out feel rewarding! “Gone and done! I freaking rock!”. Yes, you got this!
5. Identify your priorities to gain accomplishment. Ever work really, really hard and still feel like the day sucked? Yep, well what if you chose one thing in each of your busy days and added it to your to-do list, something you find meaningful and can prioritize a certain amount of time to. Give it some focus and attention. Being accomplished is an internalized thing; you could complete everything your boss said, but if you know there are other priorities that would make your life easier or better, make a point to do it. At the end of the day, you are still the person who must walk away and decide whether the day was worth it. For some people this may be a 5 minute long conversation with a valued customer, problem-solving an issue you know a lot about or completing a task you are invested in. Need more time with your kids and family? Schedule a family walk, and outing or put all the electronics away and add these into your daily goals.
6. Make Time for Yourself. While family is often our top priority, the old saying goes that you cannot pour from an empty cup, so give yourself 10 minutes to take that walk down the road, to turn up the music on your way home, not babble into your phone or Bluetooth device, read something enjoyable or respond to a friend. Not sure what to do, try different things until it feels rewarding!
7. Become Flexible. Because the only person you can control in this big world full of over-sized children, sometimes called politicians, screaming children, slower than normal cashiers, long lines and crappy drivers, is your response to these. Knowing you will run into a lot of these you can plan how to roll with the waves. Flexibility means to understand whether or not these things really impact you or those around you (you may be thinking of children or listening to them here), to be able to be positive in these situations and plan accordingly (which can be hard to do if you are always late). So write in your appointments 15 minutes before their actual time, and remind yourself to take a big deep extra breath and let the crap all go out with your exhale.
8. Make time for positive people because life is too short for negative people to break you down and steal your energy. Positive people in your life can help remind you of all those positive attributes and push you to continue self-betterment. They care about you, not what they can get out of you. Feel someone is a time-suck and emotionally draining? Set some boundaries to improve your relationship, reduce the negativity and increase time spent around like-minded people.
9. Don’t Over-schedule It. With only so many minutes in a day for work, family and you, be realistic with life. You are not a robot, and even us Superheroes need our sleep and R&R. Stick with your realistic goals each day and remember that a crisis or lack of planning on another person’s part does not constitute an emergency on yours!
10. Re-evaluate and reflect at the end. Spend 5-10 minutes at the end of each day. Smile at what you have crossed off. Feel okay with what you didn’t. Reevaluate the importance of each task and move things over into the next day’s to-do list or goals if necessary. Write a daily gratitude list, remind yourself where you are going and how you did so awesome at doing what you did today and perhaps enjoyed feel more accomplished!