Sometimes it feels impossible to get it together. You dash through getting dressed only to still arrive for work five minutes late. That movie you wanted to see with friends was great; only you showed up halfway through the previews. You’re always rushing, but you never quite get anywhere on time, and it’s leaving you feeling dragged out, overwhelmed, and maybe even a little like a failure. And you can’t figure out why the rest of the world seems to have no trouble at all with being on time when you would likely be late to your funeral.
So how do you change from always being the last one to arrive at being on time?
1. Acknowledge the problem. It’s so easy to make excuses for being late. But there comes a time when you have to realize that that’s all they are – excuses. If you’re frequently running behind, then you’ve got a problem. The first step then is to accept that, so you can move on and do something about it.
2. Ask yourself why you’re late. Are you trying to avoid something you don’t want to do? Do you maybe like people waiting for you to get there? Are you always trying to do that ‘one last thing’? Knowing why you’re late will help you identify the triggers and then move past them. For example, if you’re avoiding something, then maybe that’s something you shouldn’t have committed to in the first place.
3. Stop trying to do so much. Grabbing that last errand, that last chore, or doing that last thing will derail you every time. Multitasking never works. Let the little things go. You can always grab them later.
4. Plan for the future. Lay out your clothes for tomorrow. Set out your gym bag if you want to exercise in the morning. By preparing now, you won’t get caught in the trap of hunting for things when you’re already short on time. If you’re ready tonight, then you’re set to go tomorrow.
5. Expect things to go wrong. Build extra time into your appointments. What if there’s traffic or something else that delays you? Having more time than needed is always better than not having enough time right from the start.
6. Get real. Honestly, how long does it take you to get to the airport? Don’t underestimate the distance you need to travel, or the time it’ll take to get there.
Time management doesn’t have to be impossible. With a little planning and a different mindset, it’s fully possible to change ‘late’ into ‘right on time.’ What’s the worst that can happen? You might wind up with time to wait if you’re early which you can use for something else – like reading or just gathering your thoughts for what comes next. That’s a win-win situation for sure!
Invest Time in the Self-Care Habit
Being productive is a wonderful thing, but too often we get so caught up in doing that we forget that the person doing the thing is every bit as important as whatever we’re trying to accomplish, if not more so.
For most people, this is a difficult concept. We tend to be results-oriented that we skip meals, stay up late, and work through breaks. We push to keep going, thinking that we’ll accomplish that much more if we do. The truth of the matter is, we’re not only hurting ourselves but reducing our output significantly.
How? It’s common sense when you think about it. If you’re exhausted, it takes longer to perform simple tasks. Low blood sugar makes for fuzzy thinking. And if you have too much on your plate, you’re not able to dedicate your attention to where it’s needed most. In short, you’re sabotaging yourself, which is why taking the time for self-care is so incredibly important.
Taking care of yourself is important, and you can start by putting a few simple habits in place.
1. Learn to say no. Setting boundaries are one of the most important things you will ever do to save your productivity – and your sanity. By knowing when to say ‘yes’ – and more importantly – when to say ‘no,’ you reserve your energy for what’s important. That means you’ll also free up some of your time to enjoy more self-care.
2. Remember to rest. Pulling an all-nighter is only cool when you’re young enough to snap back easily the next day. The hard truth? As we age, the quality of our sleep tends to go down, so you’re going to need more of it. Even more importantly, maximize the sleep you do have. A cool dark room is best for REM sleep, as is doing things to turn off your mind before bed.
3. Reward yourself – but not with food. Sometimes we all need that little extra oomph to get us through that project. Rewards give a nice little bump of happiness to get you through the day. So treat yourself to a few minutes of that game on your phone or a movie out when you finish that big project.
4. Celebrate success. Recognizing your accomplishments gives a nice jolt in the self-esteem, right where you need it. So what if the project completed seems small? Every step forward is a step in the right direction and worthy of acknowledgment. Celebrate yourself and every little win.
5. Fuel your body. Eating well gives you the energy you need to get through the day. Add in exercise, and you’ll build that staying power you need to accomplish great things.
If you want to be productive, you must first start by making sure your body is capable of that productivity. Taking care of yourself is that first step toward a happier and healthier you. If you worry about taking too much time for yourself, remember that not taking care of yourself will make you spend more time on the projects you do have. Self-care is just that important.