There is one thing that I am more obsessed with than health and nutrition. I bet you didn’t think that was possible! Although I have a health blog and am always talking about nutrients, hormones and functional lab work, I absolutely love to research life hacking.
My definition of life hacking is finding the most stress-free and streamlined process for everything that you do during the day. What’s makes you feel the best and operate the most smoothly? What allows you to produce specific focused results without entering a state of stress? What helps you have the time left over in the day to be with the people that you love or take time to refuel with a good book or a jog.
When I work with busy moms, one of the most life and health changing concepts (once actually taken to heart and put into action) is scheduling time for themselves first. It is easy to end up last on the list and sometime this is even worn as a badge for the good mom award.
The problem is that, as the stewardess will gladly remind you, if you don’t put the air mask on yourself first you aren’t going to be much help to your children. A hormonally imbalanced, overtired mom who is constantly battling the kid’s latest cold is not going to be able to bring their best self to their family, their job or their passion.
Here are some of my favorite life hacks.
Schedule time for yourself: I schedule everything that is important to my health. I schedule my exercise first. Having an appointment with a trainer also adds the accountability factor. I schedule time for grocery shopping, time for meal prep and time for cooking. I also schedule time with my family and friends. My hours to work are 9-4 (with the occasional evening call or webinar) and then I am done. I even schedule time for social media, time for clients and time for working on bigger projects that require a block of time to focus.
Technology Blackout: When you are working on a project, turn off your phone or put it in airplane mode. Turn off the ding that notifies you that you have a new friend or a new comment. Pick a time (that is on your schedule!) to use social media or surf the web and give yourself a limit. After that, remove yourself from the addictive drip of social media.
Multitasking: Don’t do it. Enough said. You don’t know how excited I was to finally be reading books and research about how much time we lose in the process of switching from one task to another. I have never been a good multi-tasker and had always seen it as a flaw but now I have a different view. In The One Thing by Gary Keller (I highly suggest this book if you haven’t read it!) he says that “multitasking is a lie”. He later goes on to explain how we think that we are doing two things at once but that our brain is actually bouncing back and forth between the tasks, “people can actually do two or more things at once, such as walk and talk or chew gum and read a map; but, like computers, what we can’t do is focus on two things at once. Our attention bounces back and forth.” And as Steve Uzzell says “multitasking is merely the opportunity to screw up more than one thing at a time.”
Batching: Batch activities together that are similar and do them all at once. If you get emails that you need to answer every 20 minutes save them until the end of the day and answer them all at once. This also applies in relation to food and cooking. When you return from the grocery store, try washing and preparing your vegetables all at once before you put them away. Cook double or triple batches of staples in your house and then keep some in the freezer to easily pull out in a pinch.
Streamlining & Upgrading: I have to thank my old supervisor (well he isn’t actually old at all but you know what I mean) for insisting on constantly improving the process flow of our design work. We were required to take 10-15 minutes at the end of each project to upgrade something for the next time. We used an excel spreadsheet and checklists so that if one engineer made a mistake or learned a lesson we would be sure to pass that knowledge onto the others. When you find yourself doing something more than once it is time to look for a system. How many times have you sent a similar email or make the same grocery list? Create a template that you can pull from and update or personalize as needed.
Everyday I am changing my workflow to see what is most efficient. It is a never-ending process of upgrading and tweaking that I really enjoy. Finding your flow will leave you energized at the end of your day or project instead of depleted. When we feel unorganized and pulled in many directions we are living in a state of dis-ease.
I would love to hear what tools and strategies that you have found work best. Please share them in the comment section!