One of the most common questions I’m asked ALL the time when I tell people I blog and have a full-time job is ‘How do you fit it all in?’.
It is easy to be convinced those people who are productive are not totally human, like Beyonce or something (is Beyonce human? I’m still not convinced she isn’t a demi-goddess - but that is another blog post, for another day).
The truth is, I an not always as productive as I would like. I do fit blogging in, however, because I prioritise what is important to me (aka, this blog). It isn't always easy and since Matt started working normal hours again (RIP Trade Me - we will return to you one day!), I need to pay him attention for 18 hours a week more than I previously used to, which has actually been quite an adjustment. Now I could waffle about theories of productivity and life/work balance for ages, as I’m sure I’ve done in blog posts in the past. But today, I wanted to get REALLY practical to give you kind folks some actual tips about HOW I get through the really busy patches in life. For example, in August I covered Wellington On A Plate, The New Zealand Film Festival, and flew to Auckland a few times.
So what should you do when you’re really busy and need to streamline your life? Here are my honest to God tried and true tips. Take what is useful and leave the rest - but give them all a go!
1. Embrace iCal and ‘touch it once’
I used to be a notepad and pen kind of girl. I’d love a good diary (my stationery fetish started at a young age when I would change price tags over at Whitcoulls so I could afford the ‘good’ inky pen for a biro price - this is before they had to scan - and I was wracked with guilt over my fraudulent behaviours). I never used electronic calendars of any kind before I blogged. However, things change so much that now I ALWAYS schedule into my iCal as SOON as I get an invite to something. ‘Touch it Once is an idea I learnt from Marie Forleo. As soon as something comes in, deal with it. This doesn’t mean responding immediately to every single email but when you sit down to answer your emails or make appointments, add them to your iCal immediately. That way, you never forget a coffee, no matter how minor. Bonus tip: sync your work and personal calendar so that you can see when you have work events that clash with anything else.
2. Simplify, But Don’t Sacrifice, Your Eats
When I’m busy, it is eating that falls apart first - and that's when I really see the cracks in my energy, health and stress levels. Our cupboard is bare because no one has time to do food shopping (why hello 2-year-old Quinoa) and we end up going to eat dinner at McDonald's more than once in a blue moon. I find that eating badly really affects my mood and productivity. I get sluggish, stressed and emotional. This is why I am SO thrilled that UberEATS has finally launched in Wellington this week for those times I’ve come home late from an event and have blogs to write still. Obviously, I won’t be using it every day because I got bills I gotta pay (though the idea is tempting). BUT it is an absolute heaven sent miracle as far as getting food that is diverse, fast, delivered to my home and will fill me with energy so I can keep slaying. Wellington has so many great restaurants and now heaps deliver via UberEATS. They make your food and an UberEATS driver collects it and drives it to your house. Simple.
UberEATS is so easy to use - you just download the App and you’re away. I’d recommend trying the Old Quarter (Dixon Street - owned by the guy who started chow so expect epic Asian fusion foods), Oikos (my favs, the Greek Food Truck, set up this Miramar Greek restaurant), Mad Mex (don’t get me started on how much I adore their grande melt) and Gelissimo as a beginner (these guys are close to my work and so I consider my homies). Sometimes the most important thing is taking care of yourself, and that includes making sure you eat a proper meal, so make sure you don’t reach for drive through and instead reach for UberEATS.
3. Go To Sleep
Over the years, I’ve learnt the hard way that sleep is one thing you can’t sacrifice when you’re busy. If you do, you’ll end up getting crabby and stressed and end up crying about next to nothing. A good sleep has been shown to dramatically improve mental health and is key to being confident and productive. Skip the exercise this week (your butt will be fine), say no to going out, but don’t sacrifice your zzzz’s. Magnesium helps as a supplement to get to sleep, as does having eaten properly and not drinking.
4. Be Efficient and Make A Plan
Whether it is using your lunch to make a phone call instead of reading Stuff.co.nz, or asking someone to meet you near your work for coffee instead of running across town, remember to stop and think, “Could I be spending my time more productively?” Don’t skimp on quality (i.e. I need to meet people in person to blog about them and always take my own photos) but maybe you don’t need to go and meet your mum this week if work has you bogged down or you can leave that administrative or less important job until later. Will people really care if you don’t do it or do it later on? You need to prioritise and then work out how to most efficiently use your time. Another pro tip? Use your time walking to work or on the bus to answer emails, clear your inbox or do other administrative tasks.
If you don’t know where to start, sit down and write a list of everything you need to do and by when. When you get it all down on paper it really helps, I find, to clear your head. I also use ‘Reminders’ on my iPhone. I don’t always check it but it helps to be able to clear things off my list when I do them. Once something is checked off, I can feel like I’m progressing.
5. You need family and friends - schedule time for them
When you’re busy it is very easy to ignore family and friends. However, it is also the most important time to seek support. When you get busy you can get anxious and turn to drinking more or isolating yourself. Even though it might be hard, try and communicate and explain that although you’re busy, you’d really like to spend the next hour just catching up or spending quality time together. If you try and work and spend time together, you’ll do both badly. When you focus on just that person, you’ll be able to switch off and properly have a break. I find I am guilty of trying to work and hang out with Matt at the same time, so I have to watch that I communicate what I need to do, when, why and when I think we should spend our time together. That way, he knows what’s on my plate and generally is pretty accommodating. It also pays not to distract yourself on YouTube while you are ‘working’ as you’ll only cut into your quality time later. Bring your attention back to the task at hand in front of you. Then, when you’re together again, talk, cuddle, laugh and do things that you can enjoy as a friend or couple or family. Remember, people are the secret sauce to happiness in life.
There are so many ways to procrastinate, but luckily, you can beat them with a few lifestyle adjustments. Remember, everyone is busy! But no one should feel anxious and stressed out to the point where the are crabby and unpleasant. Make sure you eat (now with UberEATS you have zero excuses), rest and most of all, make time for friends and family and YOURSELF. Then, when times are a bit quieter, appreciate that you got this! Now go kill it!
* This blog post is sponsored by UberEATS but as usual all views are my own.