How to squeeze out more me time
Ask the next person you meet how they are and these days the typical response is 'busy!'. And it’s no wonder – juggling the responsibilities of paid work, housework, family, friends and errands while trying to carve out time to exercise and prepare healthy meals can make it seem like there’s never enough time in the day to get everything done. While you can’t create more hours, here are some strategies to help you make the most of them.
Be wise and prioritise
When it comes to prioritising which jobs you should tackle first, sort the items on your to-do list into four categories:
- Important and urgent,
- Important but not urgent,
- Urgent but not particularly important to you,
- Not at all urgent or important.
Put the important and urgent tasks at the top of the list (though it’s worth deciding if any can be delegated) and think about rescheduling the important but not urgent tasks to a less-busy time. As for the urgent but not important tasks, see if any can be deleted or delegated to your partner or children. Group together whatever’s leftover and allocate an hour to power through them, only devoting five to 10 minutes of your attention, to each.
Delegate when you can
Delegation is a workplace buzzword that can also be applied to your personal life (hello house cleaner!). As a general rule of thumb, if someone can complete the task to 70 per cent of your capability, delegate it.
All in the timing
Understanding your natural energy levels and, more importantly, when you’re functioning at your peak, can help you gain time. So if you’re a morning person, get the jobs that require the most concentration out of the way then, rather than trying to tackle them in the afternoon when you normally experience an energy slump.
Do the best you can
When you’re staring down the barrel of a super-busy day or week, try to cut corners where you can. Entertaining friends, but your home is a disaster zone? Put all the mess in one room and shut the door; wipe the important surfaces down; check the bathroom’s presentable, and then consider suggesting a healthy takeaway rather than cooking a meal from scratch.
Time management strategies for…
Around the house
- Focus on doing one job at a time. You’ll get things done faster rather than bouncing around between jobs.
- For the times of day that are typically chaotic, such as first thing in the morning, develop a routine where everyone in the family has a clearly defined role and knows what they have to do.
- Remember that you don’t have to do everything yourself. Put up a chart on the fridge to remind your family of their expected contributions.
In the kitchen
- Keep your pantry and freezer well stocked.
- Make double the recipe quantities when cooking soups, stews and pasta sauces.
- Frozen vegetables can be just as nutritious as the fresh types.
- Be in the moment wherever you are. There’s no point being at work and focusing on what’s going on at home, or being at home and thinking about work.
- While spontaneity can be great, some forward planning, like making a dinner reservation, may save you from wasting quality time together.
- Instead of catching up with friends and family over a meal at a pub or cafe, exercise together.
- Break up 30 minutes of exercise into two lots of 15 minutes.