Oh, I know this feeling all too well….. working on a to-do list that never shortens, stealing a few hours sleep only to watch the clock ’til dawn, and running on emergency mode much more than the desirable odd day.
If this sounds eerily similar to your daily routine, you could be headed for burnout. With this month’s dedication to self-love and the intention to #LoveYourSelfEnough, I wanted to touch on something the modern woman seems to be struggling with non-stop. Time management, work/life balance and lifestyle habits play important structural roles in your life, as well as determining your attitude towards it.
(Are you ready to generate more energy from the inside out? Try the Lisa Raleigh Elimin8 Programme)
Here are some of my most important tips to consider if you want to maximize your productivity without compromising your happiness (or your sanity!):
If the majority of your day is spent tackling non-creative work tasks, troubleshooting or performing under pressure, you need a creative outlet. Exactly what this means is unique to you – it could be playing an instrument, working on a craft project, updating your blog or reading fiction. Anything that demands your full focus without stress is an excellent way to unwind while still stimulating your mind. Determine your favourite creative outlets and make time for them at least a few times a week.
Build a support system
The most effective systems and structures are usually community-based. Whether you need to emotionally offload to a trusted friend, or hand over work to a more capable colleague, understand that asking for appropriate help or support is important. It may mean a few instances of returning the favour, but giving time to your strengths and asking assistance with your weaknesses means more productivity and fewer headaches.
Be a realist
Denial, procrastination, or refusing to identify your problems/weaknesses means you’re setting yourself up for failure. Putting off a daunting work task, or not acknowledging why you don’t want to spend time with a family member or friend only leads to ambiguity and little result. Facing problems transparently and without fear may feel difficult, but it’s the fastest and most effective way to overcome them.
Make ‘happy’ your default setting
An increase in positive thoughts has been proven to build resilience and your ability to be solution-focused. Working to remain positive in stressful situations, to bite your tongue when feeling annoyed, and to mindfully acknowledge each negative thought and follow it immediately with a positive one are all tools to becoming more constructive. This is an important conditioning tool that can take time to implement, but the long-term benefits are worth it. Affirming to yourself that ‘happy’ is your usual state, and any deviations are short-term goes a long way towards making it true.
Rise with the birds
If you’re hearing this one often, it’s because it’s true. Your idea of rising early might be 7am versus someone else’s 5am, but waking up at least 45 minutes before your alarm usually goes off is the key here. The main benefit of this is waking up alone – where you have only your own needs to meet. This allows for more clarity of purpose, as well as productivity, allowing you to focus on what you want to achieve out of your day.
Write it down
Documenting your to-do list is the best way to make sure it gets done. This applies to your personal life as well as work. Smartphones make it easy to keep long-running and amendable to-do lists, serving as reminders for everything from groceries you need, errands you have to run and even personal goals to reach. Visual reminders are the most effective ways to remember important tasks.
Value your time
Listen to a few interviews of successful individuals on any platform. You’ll see that they all place a high value on time. For one week, keep a journal and record every action you make on a daily basis, and how long it took. At the end of the week, tally up how much of your time was spent performing mundane or low-skill tasks, and find ways to remove them or hand them over to someone else. Things as small as planning your outfit the night before you wake up for work could save you half an hour each day.
Eat for energy
- Rice cakes and peanut butter/cheese
- Boiled eggs
- Veggie sticks with hummus *Nice idea: line the bottom of your travel mug with hummus and stick your veggie crudités into it vertically before sealing up.
- Home-made trail mixes using a combination of raw nuts, dried berries, toasted seeds and bran flakes
- Roasted pumpkin seeds: surprisingly high in protein, ½ cup offers 14 grams
- Lean biltong
- Healthy powder mixes: make your own protein shake ready to mix with water. Whey protein powder, almond milk powder, raw cacao powder and FutureLife are all great ingredients to include
- Cheese and grape mini-skewers
- Roasted chickpeas: simply toss them in the oven with
- Single yoghurt portions with granola
- Single serving tomato juice cans
- Sliced banana with peanut butter
- Crackers with hummus
Exercise for energy
Much of our energy – whilst also influenced by diet, lifestyle and fitness levels – relies heavily on brain function. Exercise plays a huge role in this, from stabilising your mood and organizing your thoughts to destressing and boosting energy levels.
- If you need an instant boost in energy and brainpower, try some of the following exercises:
- A brisk 10-minute walk is the best place to start. This not only provides an instant energy boost, but the effects will last for up to 2 hours.
- Hit the trampoline! Rebounding is an amazing way to boost energy levels, improve blood flow, and it gets your heart pumping – whilst sparing your joints any hard impact.
- Practise inverted yoga poses. The famous downward facing dog pose is excellent for getting blood and oxygen to the brain. Start on your hands and knees, curl your toes so you’re resting on the balls of your feet, and slowly rise into an inverted ‘V’ position. Keeping your eyes on your toes, exhale as you push your heels closer to the ground. Hold this position for a few moments to reap the benefits.
- Shake up a steady-state cardio routine with interval training. Bursts of 1-minute sprints followed by 3-minute recoveries help you burn fat rather than carbohydrates – your precious energy supplies.