4 Min ReadSelf 20 May 2020
Time is our most valuable resource, yet how many of us secure our calendars in the same way we secure our homes? You wouldn't leave home without locking the door, but we often leave the house without knowing exactly what we're doing that day and when. This lack of intention with our time can lead to disorganization and even more stress, once you realize how much time is wasted. I know many professional women who only use their calendars to stay on top of work-related events, such as meetings or coffee with a client, but fail to see that scheduling life outside of work would do wonders, too.
This lack of intention with our time can lead to disorganization and even more stress, once you realize how much time is wasted.
Keeping a strong personal calendar will not only keep you on task, but will also make sure you prioritize time with friends and family, too. Scheduling date nights or drinks with friends in your calendar may seem a little Type-A. However, think about the intention behind it: you are devoting your time to that person, with the promise of no distractions. That's why when friends ask me to grab lunch, I say "Absolutely!" and ask them to send me a calendar invite.
A calendar invite makes both parties both acknowledge the commitment, serves as a reminder on the day-of, and allows you to transition into a new headspace once you get the calendar reminder on your phone that lunch is starting in ten minutes. For me, it also means I can focus fully on my friend to maximize our hour or so together, because I know there's nothing else I'm "supposed" to be doing. Incredible intimate relationships aren't built in a day, but consistently over time, so make a habit of being present together with the ones you love on at least a weekly basis. Make it a recurring calendar invite to help you keep the habit, or find a weekly planner you love and write it down. Put your phones away during this time and just be.
I started practicing this habit in 2017 after realizing I wasn't focusing on my relationships enough. Even when I was physically with the people I love, I was distracted. There's a term from Nir Eyals' book Indistractable that really impacted me: "residual benefactors." It's something you don't want your friends or family to become. Basically, it refers to a person that gets the leftovers of something once all of the other priorities have been taken care of - AKA, what friends and family become when they only get what's left of you after a long day, week or month.
When we're not intentional with our time and energy, we accidentally make the people we care most about residual benefactors. We overbook ourselves with work and don't book times in our calendar for our relationships which means the people we are working so hard for, get the leftover crumbs from our lives. Scheduling your time intentionally ensures that people you love get the best of you.
Don't feel guilty about scheduling your relationships, either. It's not a bad thing to literally "pencil in" date night or put a sticky note in your planner to "call mom." Just remind yourself that friendships and relationships don't end in a day; relationships are starved to death through lack of time, energy and focus. They cannot thrive and the connection gets lost. You are doing yourself a favor by being a little Type-A, and putting time with someone special in your calendar doesn't symbolize that they aren't important enough to remember otherwise - rather, it demonstrates just how valuable they are to you.
For example, before I became a scheduling-aficionado, I recall a time when I went back to my hometown of Belfast, Northern Ireland to visit my mother. I had a few professional acquaintances who wanted to meet for lunches and dinners, and I gladly accepted their calendar invitations. At the end of my visit, my mother pointed out that I didn't have lunch with her but once. I hadn't even realized it, but I was penciling people in because all I saw was open space in my calendar. Without purposefully scheduling time with her, she became a residual benefactor. This was the opposite of what I wanted as she is the most important person to me.
When we're not intentional with our time and energy, we accidentally make the people we care most about residual benefactors.
I think many women can relate to this struggle. Between work, making dinner, events, the kid's activities, emails, errands and walking the dog, our time gets eaten up with day-to-day tasks. Often, we might go through a whole day without distraction-less, intentional time with the people we love. Our calendar is a reflection of our values and priorities. Create a habit around intentionality in your relationships, and make yours the best reflection of you.
This article was originally published December 26, 2019.
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3 Min Read
With a lack of certainty surrounding the future, being and feeling healthy may help bring the security that you need during these unpredictable times.
When it comes to your health, there is a direct relationship between nutrition and physical activity that play an enormous part in physical, mental, and social well-being. As COVID-19 continues to impact almost every aspect of our lives, the uncertainty of the future may seem looming. Sometimes improvisation is necessary, and understanding how to stay healthy and fit can significantly help you manage your well-being during these times.
Tip 1: Communicate with your current wellness providers and set a plan
Gyms, group fitness studios, trainers, and professionals can help you to lay out a plan that will either keep you on track through all of the changes and restrictions or help you to get back on the ball so that all of your health objectives are met.
Most facilities and providers are setting plans to provide for their clients and customers to accommodate the unpredictable future. The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C. An enormous amount is on the table for this coming fall and winter; if your gym closes again, what is your plan? If outdoor exercising is not an option due to the weather, what is your plan? Leaving things to chance will significantly increase your chances of falling off of your regimen and will make consistency a big problem.
The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C.
Tip 2: Stay active for both mental and physical health benefits
The rise of stress and anxiety as a result of the uncertainty around COVID-19 has affected everyone in some way. Staying active by exercising helps alleviate stress by releasing chemicals like serotonin and endorphins in your brain. In turn, these released chemicals can help improve your mood and even reduce risk of depression and cognitive decline. Additionally, physical activity can help boost your immune system and provide long term health benefits.
With the new work-from-home norm, it can be easy to bypass how much time you are spending sedentary. Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity. Struggling to find ways to stay active? Start simple with activities like going for a walk outside, doing a few reps in exchange for extra Netflix time, or even setting an alarm to move during your workday.
Tip 3: Start slow and strong
If you, like many others during the pandemic shift, have taken some time off of your normal fitness routine, don't push yourself to dive in head first, as this may lead to burnout, injury, and soreness. Plan to start at 50 percent of the volume and intensity of prior workouts when you return to the gym. Inactivity eats away at muscle mass, so rather than focusing on cardio, head to the weights or resistance bands and work on rebuilding your strength.
Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity.
Tip 4: If your gym is open, prepare to sanitize
In a study published earlier this year, researchers found drug-resistant bacteria, the flu virus, and other pathogens on about 25 percent of the surfaces they tested in multiple athletic training facilities. Even with heightened gym cleaning procedures in place for many facilities, if you are returning to the gym, ensuring that you disinfect any surfaces before and after using them is key.
When spraying disinfectant, wait a few minutes to kill the germs before wiping down the equipment. Also, don't forget to wash your hands frequently. In an enclosed space where many people are breathing heavier than usual, this can allow for a possible increase in virus droplets, so make sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Staying in the know and preparing for new gym policies will make it easy to return to these types of facilities as protocols and mutual respect can be agreed upon.
Tip 5: Have a good routine that extends outside of just your fitness
From work to working out, many routines have faltered during the COVID pandemic. If getting back into the routine seems daunting, investing in a new exercise machine, trainer, or small gadget can help to motivate you. Whether it's a larger investment such as a Peloton, a smaller device such as a Fitbit, or simply a great trainer, something new and fresh is always a great stimulus and motivator.
Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine.
Just because you are working from home with a computer available 24/7 doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your entire day to work. Setting work hours, just as you would in the office, can help you to stay focused and productive.
A good night's sleep is also integral to obtaining and maintaining a healthy and effective routine. Adults need seven or more hours of sleep per night for their best health and wellbeing, so prioritizing your sleep schedule can drastically improve your day and is an important factor to staying healthy. Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine. This can help the rest of your day feel normal while the uncertainty of working from home continues.
Tip 6: Focus on food and nutrition
In addition to having a well-rounded daily routine, eating at scheduled times throughout the day can help decrease poor food choices and unhealthy cravings. Understanding the nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy can help you stay more alert, but they do vary from person to person. If you are unsure of your suggested nutritional intake, check out a nutrition calculator.
If you are someone that prefers smaller meals and more snacks throughout the day, make sure you have plenty of healthy options, like fruits, vegetables and lean proteins available (an apple a day keeps the hospital away). While you may spend most of your time from home, meal prepping and planning can make your day flow easier without having to take a break to make an entire meal in the middle of your work day. Most importantly, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
Tip 7: Don't forget about your mental health
While focusing on daily habits and routines to improve your physical health is important, it is also a great time to turn inward and check in with yourself. Perhaps your anxiety has increased and it's impacting your work or day-to-day life. Determining the cause and taking proactive steps toward mitigating these occurrences are important.
For example, with the increase in handwashing, this can also be a great time to practice mini meditation sessions by focusing on taking deep breaths. This can reduce anxiety and even lower your blood pressure. Keeping a journal and writing out your daily thoughts or worries can also help manage stress during unpredictable times, too.
While the future of COVI9-19 and our lives may be unpredictable, you can manage your personal uncertainties by focusing on improving the lifestyle factors you can control—from staying active to having a routine and focusing on your mental health—to make sure that you emerge from this pandemic as your same old self or maybe even better.