Life is tough — there’s so much to do and so little time to do it. It’s as if it’s all one big joke; we’re given 24 hours in a day, but are forced to sleep away anywhere between 25-33% of it. Don’t get me wrong; I love sleeping just as much as the next guy, but when you have things that you have to get done, as well as having to make time to slow down and do some brain maintenance, clearing your mind, then you have little to no time left for anything else.
So is it that we have no choice but to live a life lacking fulfillment? Are we to give in to the seeming impossibility of having our cake and eating it too? Nay, I tell you! If what we want in this life is an impossibility then there would be no point of living it. There is always a way to get what you want as long as you’re smart about it.
There are ways of getting all that you want out of your day, out of your life — you just need to know what you want, to plan ahead and to be open to integration. The first and most important step is figuring out exactly what it is that you want. Take out a pen and paper and write down all the tasks that you have to accomplish on a regular basis.
There’s no need to get down to specifics, such as the tasks that you have to do at work — those tend to differ, if not from day to day, then from week to week. Write down all your tasks from most important to least in descending order. Having a visual — a to do list that isn’t exclusively in your mind — will force you to see your activities in a physical form, allowing you to move things around with less stress, never having to worry about forgetting something.
It is important to prioritize your tasks; giving no more importance to one task than another is inefficient. If for whatever reason you do find yourself short on time, you of course want to make sure that you accomplish those tasks that are most important to you and not those of less personal significance.
We are all forced to balance our work, our social lives, our exercise regimens and our down time — if not more. Giving the correct importance to each piece of the puzzle that makes up your life will guarantee that — in the worst case scenario — if you cannot do all that you wish to do, you will at least do all that of which is the highest priority, minimizing your discomfort and maximizing efficiency.
Calculate the amount of time necessary for the tasks on the top of your list. These ought to include the time that you need for sleeping, the time that you spend at the office working, the time needed for exercising, the downtime that you need in order to stay sane and the time you need for your social life.
You may have a different set of most important priorities, but I would recommend reconsidering if yours don’t match mine. The one thing that I have learned is the importance of keeping a regular, healthy sleep and exercise schedule as well as the importance of making downtime in order to allow yourself to relax and get back in touch with reality, the physical world. Focusing on these activities and scheduling the rest of your life around them will undoubtedly maximize your performance in all remaining tasks.
Now that you have your key activities scheduled, it is time to put the rest of the pieces in place. Again, start with those of highest priority and move your way down the list. If you find yourself struggling, the only thing to do is to integrate your tasks. This is not to say that you should multitask — multitasking will end with you getting less done or getting everything done with lesser quality, not to mention that your IQ will suffer for it.
Try to integrate your social life into other parts of your life. Maybe it’s time to get a workout buddy? Maybe you can bring a friend to that networking event? Perhaps you can do some cleaning while you watch your favorite TV show? There is always a way to be more efficient as long as you stay creative.
If you prioritize, integrate and take control of your schedule then you will be more in control of your life and the direction you are heading. At first the task may seem larger than you can handle — so sit down, relax and plan your schedule slowly and creatively. There are those that prefer not to live their lives according to a schedule.
In my experience, these people usually have enough time on their hands that it doesn’t matter when, how and in what order they complete activities because they know they will find time to do them later. This is a great way of living if you enjoy it and can afford to live it in such a way. Most of us, however, lead very active lives and would be much better off looking at things from the outside, scheduling ahead of time, rather than doing our best to figure the day out as it goes. The choice is yours.
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