7 Tips for Finding Time to Create a Healthier and Happier You
There are two universal truths I think we can all agree on:
1. Our health is our wealth.
2. Time is finite; we all have the same amount of time in a 24-hour window.
However, put these two truths together and you’ll typically hear something like ‘I don’t have time to exercise’ or ‘cook healthy meals’ or ‘meditate’ or any other number of time poor excuses.
But your health is your wealth, right? It is (or should be) our number one priority. And at certain times it is, especially when someone you know has a health scare or is diagnosed with a potentially fatal illness, which puts things in perspective. Then we promise ourselves we’ll adapt healthier habits, which we either keep for a few days or a few weeks until we fall into our old ways of thinking and habits believing we just don’t have time.
And haven’t we all heard of that amazing person who gets so much more done with her time. Maybe she has a demanding job and busy family home life but still finds time to eat healthy, do triathlons, charity work as well as enjoying time with friends, pampering herself (you get the picture). She has the same amount of time as the rest of us. Now, I’m not saying we should all be this person, but what is she doing differently with her time when most of us can just about get through a day’s work, get dinner on the table then crash on the couch (and I’ve been there, believe me).
How you spend our time defines your life
How we spend our time defines our life. When you think of it in this way, it’s pretty powerful, isn’t it? If we want to be healthy, we have to spend time being healthy. So, what can we do to ‘find’ more time? As a self-confessed time waster and serial procrastinator, I want to share with you what I’ve learned and implemented into my life based on lots of reading, research and advice from some very wise people – all of which is really quite life changing:
1. Are you spending time in line with your values and goals?
I worked with a guy who very casually said to me one day “my priorities are as follows: 1) family 2) friends 3) exercise 4) work”. It blew my mind. I would have put work higher on the list, and I probably wouldn’t have included exercise…this was just something you squeezed in, right? The thing is, he was really good at his job and had found this magic formula that worked for him based on his values. So, ask yourself if how you’re spending your time is in line with your values. Once you approach things from this place, you’ll find the time for the important things and drop the faffing around on less value driven activities.
2. Think of time as if it’s a person:
If you kept blowing off your friend, being late and not respecting him, do you think he’d continue to show up for you? Probably not. You need to treat time the same way. Respect it. If you say you’re going to do something, do it. Write it down, put a reminder on your phone, write it on the back of your hand…whatever it takes.
3. Pay attention to distractions:
You know you need to get a task or project done but instead of getting on with it you’re checking facebook, getting sucked into the email vortex, eating even though you’re not hungry. Note down what your key distractions are and put a plan in place to counter them. Put your phone in another room while working. Don’t open your email’s until you’ve completed a set time on your project. Once you become aware of your weak spots, you can put a plan in place to protect yourself against them.
4. Chunk it down:
There’s nothing more overwhelming than looking at your long to-do list and feeling that rising sense of panic. Our brains can only handle so much information at once without exploding. I find breaking things down into time chunks really helps. Pick one task to work on for 1 hour (or whatever length of time works for you). Don’t check emails, answer calls, eat (i.e. get distracted!) for that hour. Set a timer. When the hour is up, have a break and then move on to the next task.
5. Stop saying “I’m so busy”!
By constantly reinforcing that you’re busy, you’re adding to the overwhelm of the long to-do list. Focus on what you enjoy about what you do so you don’t feel so bogged down by it all. When you approach all you have to do in a relaxed manner, deciding that you live a life that is interesting and exciting, and communicate that, then you’re less anxious and can get more done in less time. And you’re happier. Win win.
6. Ask for help
We all know this old chestnut, but do we really ask for help when we need it? And I’m not just talking about delegating some tasks to a team member or getting the kids to load the dishwasher (which are important). I’m talking about those times when you spend weeks or months trying to figure out how to eat healthy, doing fad diets that just add to your stress load and anxiety – and ultimately don’t work for you. Or when you need to re-organise your home office but just feel overwhelmed by the whole process. Get a professional. Working with a pro will save you time and money in the long run.
7. Relax and do things you enjoy
If you believe that taking time for yourself is selfish or that everything will collapse around you if you’re not there, is simply not true and is an unhealthy mindset. If you don’t prioritise time to take care of yourself, your body will eventually make you take time off by getting sick, injured or burnt out. Aside from becoming sick, what’s the point if you’re not enjoying life and having some fun. How do you want to look back on your life when you’re 90? Will you regret not spending more time at work, or being stressed and worn out? Don’t think so. But you’ll never regret spending time on things that make you feel good and light you up.
Margaret Kavanagh Nutrition works with busy professionals suffering with low energy and fatigue helping them make the switch from exhausted to energised so they can win at work and thrive in life.
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