Are you having a mini panic right now because the year’s running away at a scary pace? Me too! Blink and time disappears — in a flash! It’s why I’m more incentivized than ever to embed strategies and routines into my day to make me more productive and effective.
These 7 strategies are working for me — and I believe they could help you create more time and momentum in your life too.
Do dive in…
1. Listening to books on Audible
I’ve had an Audible account for YEARS (and my library is pretty full too), but I’ve rarely tuned in.
I put it down to my programming; because reading is better than listening, right?
Actually NO! If you’re an auditory learner, then spoken books are BRILLIANT! Audible is also a powerful tool that can help you maximize your time. For example, I’ve been exploring listening to books while prepping food or tuning in with my earplugs in the evening rather than watching trashy TV.
I’ve also started listening to one of my favorite books on a loop during my morning walk. I found that my thought loops were getting to repetitive. Listening to a book shakes my thinking up and is helping me embed more empowering ideas and philosophies.
Right now, I’m listening to Todd Herman’s The Alter Ego Effect, it’s pretty darn good. Check it out…
2. Power walking after the school run
I’m a writer and that means I spent a LOT of my time sat down. Thank goodness for my Apple Watch which beeps to remind me to stand up – otherwise I could easily sit for hours and not even notice.
To help me get more active, I’m now adding a power walk after the school run. Just 30-minutes – walking as fast as I can is making a big difference. I like getting this routine ‘out of the way’ first thing in the morning. This is a good trick that can help you clock up an early win to make you feel more accomplished. It’s also easier to add the walk to a time in my day when I’m already out of the house. I just know if I tried to do it later, I’d find some excuse to stay put!
As well as helping to enhance this fitness, this walk doubles as quality thinking and learning time too. I enjoy listening to audio books (see habit 1). I also enjoy the chance to think. When I’m moving, I’m much better able to process ideas. Somehow, the physical act of moving stops stuff getting stagnated.
Prioritizing daily movement is helping me be more productive too. I don’t feel so mentally sluggish so it’s helping me get more done.
3. Daily gratitude practice
When you’re a multitasking mom who’s juggling a ton of stuff, it’s not unusual to have a head full.
It’s not unusual for me to look at my to-do list in the morning and feel so ‘ARGH’ I struggle to get started (sound familiar?)
It’s why I start my day with gratitude.
It’s so simple… I just write down three things I’m thankful for and allow the feelings of gratefulness to flood through my body. I can’t help but smile and feel good when I recognize all the joy in my life. Somehow, gratitude switches on a shot of positivity, which helps me get more done.
Gratitude also helps me to keep my mind in check. On those days when my workload or commitments raise the stress levels, gratitude helps remind me of what I’ve already got. Suddenly everything feels ok again.
4. Plan out my day
I have too much going on to try and manage my day in my head alone.
Rely on your memory, and you’ll almost certainly forget stuff, drop the ball, or rock up in the wrong place at the wrong time!
A simple way to free up bandwidth and feel in control — regardless of how much is on your plate — is to plan your day using your BuJo or favorite planner.
I love my SELF Journal for this. I especially love the 30-minute timeline. It’s perfect for getting really granular with your minutes to ensure you don’t waste any needlessly.
With a clear timeline for my day it’s easy to see if you’re on target or falling behind. A plan also helps you get motivated. When you know what you need to get done (and by when), you’ve got more incentive to get your head down and crack on.
Then there’s the celebratory fist bump at the end of the day when you realize you did it! Make the day happen, and you notch up that bit of grit and determination to do it all again.
5. Daily journaling
I’m loving spending the first 20-minutes of my working day (after my power walk), journaling.
I write anything – how I’m feeling, what I’m working through, what I want to achieve, what I’m struggling with – anything goes.
There’s something magical about writing your way through your thoughts. Somehow the tangles unravel, and you find your way back to clarity. I love how this practice gives me a clear head so I can get on with the rest of my day.
It’s also helping me to be more creative. We don’t often notice our thoughts in any detail. We have thousands a day but they rarely get explored and processed. Instead, thoughts circle and get stuck — until you write them down.
When you write, you can tease things out. You can explore deeper, make fresh connections, and solve challenges and road blocks. It’s one of the most powerful habits I’ve started in recent months and I feel it could be powerful for you too.
6. Cooking from scratch
I’ve always told myself I’m too busy to cook. When there’s never enough time, you invariably rush something up! It’s not productive and it’s not good for your budget or shopping list either!
Recently, I’ve been spending more time cooking food.
I did it to get healthier.
But as I’ve got into the flow, I’ve actually enjoyed the process. I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to be creative — I don’t always follow a recipe. I’ve also enjoyed the downtime. When you’re focused on cooking, your mind can switch off. It’s often a welcome relief.
I make the most of this time. Sometimes my kids help out (so it’s a good chance for a conversation). Other times I’ll listen to an Audible favorite, tune into a Podcast, or watch a TED Talk.
I’ve tried meditation on and off for a long time. It’s a practice that so many people recommend, but I’ve frequently struggled with.
It’s not easy when you have a busy, overactive mind that doesn’t want to switch off!
Also, meditation always felt like a means to an end. For me, it was painful to sit in the silence and do nothing when my to-so list was calling! As you can imagine, with that kind of thinking going on, my meditation wasn’t massively successful.
Until I changed my goal…
I now meditate lying down – often at the end of the day. Instead of trying to quiet my mind, I listen out for what my body and subconscious is trying to tell me. I use this time to release tension, feel into the niggles, and let stuff go.
It seems to be working for me — which reinforces the idea that while it’s useful to discover what other people do, you’ve always got to find what floats your boat.
ONE MORE THING!
Just to say I am FAR from perfect!
There are definitely times when I slip off the wagon! For example, a couple of rainy days and a poorly son last week meant I skipped my power walk and a particularly busy work day meant I never got around to my daily journaling.
But on the whole I do what I can to stick to these habits.
After all, habits make us who we are 🙂
So if you’re looking to start some new habits this month, maybe some of these seven could work for you.
Let me know in the comments below if you decide to try any (or if you’re committing to something different).
P.S. Remember, if you fancy getting your hands on a SELF Journal, you can save 15% with code SJ15. Check it out here.