So your schedule sucks...let's fix that!
How to make your schedule work for you, not against you
Holy smokes, it’s almost October! I know this time of year can be chaotic. Between work, getting kids back into their school routine, and holidays just around the corner, I bet you feel like your life is unraveling at the seams at times. So today I wanted to talk about TAKING BACK CONTROL OF YOUR SCHEDULE!
Guys, we only have one life. I used to spend my time going through the motions, not really enjoying my job and feeling like my tank was completely empty by the end of the day. In other words, I was doing myself a total disservice by allowing my schedule to run my life, and not the other way around. I was UNHAPPY. I was carrying excess stress weight, and it took everything in my power to pull myself out of bed some mornings. Sound the alarm! It was time to take back control of my life and create a schedule that worked for me, not against me!
Run your schedule, don’t let your schedule run you
Most recently, I have received a ton of messages from clients and followers asking for advice on how to fit everything in (exercise, meal planning, eating slowly, work, quality time with family, self-care, etc.) when there just doesn't seem to be enough time in the day to even take a break for lunch! Here is the good news - there is almost always a chunk of time in the day where we are not utilizing our time as effectively as we could be.
Take me for example. I have taken on several new work work projects, and because of that, my stress levels have been through the roof (I just found my first gray hair…well actually my husband did, and he found it quite amusing to say the least). What I realized is that I was running around trying to make everything work, but I was left feeling exhausted by the end of the day. Again, my schedule was running me, not the other way around.
And if you are thinking, “Well this seems to be a pattern in your life, Sally,” then you would be correct. HOWEVER, sometimes these things have to happen in order for us to realize that change is necessary. By the way, studies have shown that it isn’t necessarily all stress that is causing problems, it is the kind of stress (aka, bad stress) and how we view and manage stress that can result in adverse health issues. As Daniela Kaufer, Associate Professor of Integrative Biology at UC Berkeley puts it, “Some amounts of stress are good to push you just to the level of optimal alertness, behavioral and cognitive performance.”
Therefore, if you look at the stress in your life as a positive, growing experience, it can actually be a phenomenal thing! Just be careful, there is such a thing as “bad” stress. Things like saying yes to all commitments, leaving little to no time for yourself, constantly working more than 12 hours per day, etc., can have adverse effects on your health, like depression, heart disease, obesity, and an increase in anxiety. This is what we call chronic stress. Steer clear from it!
Unfortunately, it is on you to determine what a healthy dose of stress is versus too much stress! And at the end of the day, it can be very humbling to acknowledge that you are not superwoman/man. It’s okay to take a step back, ask for help and say, “this just isn’t working for me anymore!”
Reevaluate your schedule and set boundaries
I recently had to take that step back which prompted me to take some action towards fixing my schedule. I set aside 60 minutes to look at every piece of the puzzle. I laid everything out, work-related items, personal tasks, self-care to do’s, everything that needed to get done as well as tasks I defined as priorities. I picked up a cheap calendar to jot down all the fitness classes I had to teach, my scheduled phone call meetings, time needed to respond to messages, when to post on social media, when to check-in with my online group, when I myself would work out, prep food, etc. Yes, it took me the full 60 minutes to map out my “perfect” schedule, but when I finished I felt extremely liberated.
This activity enabled me to find a few holes in my schedule where I wasn't being as efficient as possible. Due to longer work days, I would often run at the chance to sit on the couch and mindlessly watch 1 to 2 episodes of my favorite Netflix shows. Don't get me wrong, there is absolutely a time and a place to just chill and relax, but I discovered if I set a limit to social media scrolling and tv watching, I actually felt better, was more energized, and made time to work out in the evenings. You know the feeling you get when you have watched too much tv or realized you just spent an hour scrolling through Instagram? Yeah, it doesn't feel great!
My point is, sometimes you have to set aside time to figure out how to balance your work life and personal life. It is completely normal for this to happen several times throughout your life, because we are constantly growing and changing. It would be odd if your schedule stayed the same forever…not to mention boring!
You know the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?”
Well if it is, for the love…FIX IT!
So if something isn't working, pinpoint the problem areas and map out a workaround. It doesn't have to be perfect, and some days will certainly be busier and more stressful than others. However, you have the power to set your own boundaries. Yes, you do! It can be easy to slip into the idea that you can’t communicate with your boss, your kids, your friends, your spouse or your partner what YOU want. But don’t forget that YOU are in charge of your life. Set boundaries where you can, and don’t be afraid to communicate this with the folks in your life!
I want you to try this activity if you have been struggling making your schedule work for you. What are your non-negotiable items that must get done each day? Separate these into work and personal, self-care items. For me it looks something like this:
Non-negotiable Monday Work Tasks (example):
Respond to client messages
Text message check-ins
Teach 3 fitness classes + 1 personal training session
Social media content
Trainer Tip Email Draft
Lesson plans for Family Nutrition Course
Daily Self-care, Non-negotiable Tasks (example):
Wake up no later than 6:30 am (which means getting to bed between 10pm and 11pm)
30 minutes of reading the news, my devotional or my book (6:30am)
15-20 minute morning walk with the dog + podcast (7am)
30 minutes (minimum, I strive for 60 minutes during the week) of outdoor time (walks with the dog/husband, working out, evening river hike, etc). Nature is so healing, and I highly recommend getting outside as much as possible!
Some form of physical activity every single day (workout, mini circuits, yoga, walks, etc.)
At least 2 meals with veggies or mixed greens (I usually plan out 2-3 days worth of either roasted or raw, chopped veggies, so I always have something to grab)
No phones during meals or after 8pm
Create a life you love and deserve
No matter how busy my day is, I aim to make sure everything gets done on those lists. I say AIM, because I am not perfect, nor do I try to be. Life happens, so just do your best and aim for better each day. Consistency is what drives success and keeps us feeling our best, even when we are not motivated to do so.
Lastly, by no means should you follow my schedule! We are all unique beings and operate differently. However, I do encourage you (if time management has been a challenge) to set aside at least 30 minutes to look at your schedule and see where improvements could be made. You may be surprised with what you find!
If this tip resonated with you, let me know what you have been struggling with. Make a list of non-negotiables, and comment below with what you discovered. So when the going gets tough, don’t be afraid to make some changes. It’s worth it.
"I know it can be intimidating to make changes to your life, but what if you took the first step today? What if I told you I have been right where you are and have the ability to change your life forever? Accountability is one of the most important keys in succeeding and achieving your goals, and that is why I started Sally Mae Fitness. I know what it takes to make real, lasting changes and I will be with you every step of the way. Schedule your FREE consult to discuss your goals and concerns. I will share my personalized recommendations to help you achieve your healthiest, strongest and most confident self! Finally create the life YOU DESERVE!"