Time Management Hacks for (Non) Runners
24 hours. So little time and so much to do. This blogpost is all about making most of your day and being productive - or - making most of your free time and actively not being productive at all.
To be completely honest with you - I used to be a big mess when it comes to planning, scheduling and being on time. I forgot classes, workouts, meet-ups and really never showed up on time. To a point where I was borderline annoyed of my own behavior and decided I needed to change, hence I started reading and practicing time management (and I am not done yet - still so much room for improvement!).
So here are my favorite tips and routines, how I manage Ironman training, running a business, studying two degrees, traveling 30 places a year, maintaining a healthy diet, maintaining 6 languages and taking care of friends and family at the same time.
Let's start simple: You have a thing to do, you write it down and schedule a time and duration for it. Repeat with everything you have in mind. Not too bad in theory, right?
1. Crucial: Proper sleep
I failed with this for SUCH a long time. If you do not sleep sufficiently or your sleep quality sucks, there is no way of getting up early and feeling ready to smash the day. To the contrary, on these days I binge watched Netflix and had tons of cookies.
Set an alarm for your desired sleeping time. Stick to it an be strict about it. Limit your screen time during these evening hours and don't have caffeine after dinner. Personally, I also need a tidy sleeping room to be able to sleep well (chaos really bugs me so much when falling asleep) and practice my good night routine.
Things that improved my sleep quality:
Having my sleeping room completely dark. I installed window blinds for the first time in my life to be more independent of daylight
This fancy sleeping mask that spares out eyelashes - I hate the usual "cheap" sleep masks as they press my lashes into my eyes (fake lashes haha) which hurts. This sleeping mask is really super comfortable and gives my eyes some space (if that makes sense haha)
Pretty basic, but my puppy is snoring and earplugs are so necessary. Not to mention that we even share the same pillow and sleep nose-on-nose every night.
Using a weighted blanked. It has several psychological benefits and is scientifically proven to improve sleep quality. I got a cheap one from amazon and cannot live without it anymore - be aware to match your size and weight!
Do not have any daytime naps (As tempting it might be, being a student or self-employed haha). You will not be super tired at night anymore!
Having a water bottle next to my bed & opening the windows before sleeping. However, I keep the windows closed at night as I live on a main street at it tends to get noisy at night.
Develop a routine for the "little things" like stretching, practicing a language on Duolingo, drinking more water and reading/educating yourself. It is just some minutes a day with so much impact in the long run.
2. Old fashioned planning
Writing down stuff personally helps me so much. Have this one place (a notebook, an App, a note on your phone,..) where you store your thoughts whenever they pop up and write everything down immediately.
This pure collection of things and thoughts is then translated and structured into my rosé gold visually appealing personal organizer. This is so important - learn to love your processes and structures, otherwise you will not stick to using them.
When scheduling your tasks, add breaks and sufficient transfer time. Nothing is more annoying than being in a rush the whole day! Also, use "empty time slots" like trains, airport hangouts or doctors appointments either for to-dos or active relaxation.
3. Do less
Again - so hard! Say no and delegate as much as possible. If a business opportunity is not paying off the $$$, decline. If there is this one friend that keeps stealing your time without significantly adding to your amusement, entertainment or self-esteem, decline.
If it does not add value, structure, knowledge, money or a good mood to your life, decline.
Your hourly rate is 90$ and a cleaning lady is 15$? Hire one. Stick to your priorities and goals, make time for family and friends and decline anything else which is just time consuming and not adding any value into your life (Speaking of candy crush, Netflix, scrolling through social media, doing tasks only because you want to be liked and anything else you love when procrastinating).
4. Join the 5 AM club.
That was a joke. Don't do that. Getting up super early might work for the morning folks here, but it is not for everyone, rather make sure to catch enough sleep for a great start into the day. If your productive hours are late at night, arrange your day around that, it is as easy as that.
You feel like trying it anyway? Go to bed earlyyyy (and we are talking 9PM early), rest well and take your time for a slow morning with your favorite tea/coffee, a quick stretch and a clear to-do list.
5. Nothing new, but efficient: Eat the damn frog
And it really helps. Your mood will significantly improve when having the most annoying thing off the list. In my case: Messy bun, strong coffee and marathon playlist on - there is nothing I cannot handle in that state of mind haha!
6. Create a 30 minute playlist for annoying, but unimportant tasks
You cannot delegate it, it has to be done but it is not top priority and does not need 100% focus? Use a short playlist full of tunes you really love and do it. Be done before the playlist is. Great for cleaning up the house, for instance.
7. Workouts? Frogs!
Ever woke up to a scheduled 30k run feeling super motivated and energized? Me neither. For that reasons, I do my workouts in the morning. Early morning. I put on my running gear before I go to bed and prepare my hydration backpack in the evening (keys, water, energy bar, 20 Euros, toilet paper). More importantly, I include running and workout friends. Set your alarm 10 minutes before leaving the house, get up, brush your teeth, leave. Do not EVER snooze.
You will be out there in the cold, chatting with your friends before your brain realizes what you are up to. You will have done the first 5k before you even check your Garmin - just 25k to go!
Ideally, your social circle has the same goals and interests as you. Use that! It is so easy and fun to combine socializing with things you are doing anyway like cooking healthy and working out. Meet your new colleague for a lunch time run, your bestie for trying out a new recipe and invite your Mum to your next race to cheer on at the finish line! Double the fun using only half the time!
9. No Multitasking
I suck at this so hard. Try to separate tasks and finish off one after another, it really IS EASIER than doing everything at once and failing at 90% of it. No e-mails while studying, No WhatsApp voice messages when working. Try to keep distractions as low as possible and make use of that flight mode on your phone when needed.
How I manage my life: 80/20. Take 20% of time to finish off 80% of your tasks, because the remaining 20% take 80% of your time.
Some people really tend to be annoyed by that (perfectionists mostly), but this technique ticks off things of your to-do list real quick and THINGS WORK. This was the most valuable lesson of my past years when starting my first business: I tried to have everything perfect and at maximum, no matter if we are talking about building a website or editing your first catalogue.
Having clients who sometimes complain about a missing feature or detail is so much better than having no clients at all because you never finished your product.
Same in life, relationships and school - PARETO WORKS LITERALLY EVERYWHERE.
PS. Yeah - that implies I am not a perfectionist at all, I want things to work and be done, that's it.
What are your most valuable time management tips and time savers? Let me know in the comments!